Tired of Doing Yard Work? Let Your Lawn Rewild and Register It As a “Certified Wildlife Habitat”

May 12, 2018 at 12:17 am

Looking for an excuse to leave your yard messy? Stick one of these signs in it and tell your neighbors to relax… you’re just doing your part to save endangered species.

Most American yards serve no purpose other than a status symbol. The greener our weedless grass, the more successful we imagine ourselves to be in the eyes of our neighbors.

But, other than aesthetics, what good does a lawn do? It requires so many herbicides and synthetic fertilizers, you can’t even play, sit or lay on it without getting a rash or exposing yourself to cancer-causing chemicals.

Not only are lawns not useful to humans, they’re not useful to countless other species of animals, who’re going extinct because they’re losing more and more habitat to lawns and corn.

So why not transform your yard — front and back — into a wildlife habitat that provides food for you, insects and other animals who want to live in harmony with us?

“Wildlife need our help,” it says on the National Wildlife Federation’s website. “Human activity has eliminated habitat, locally, and on the global scale.”

You can make a difference, the organization says, by inviting birds, bees, butterflies and other wildlife back into your yard.

Whether it’s a prairie or forest garden, choose native plants that provide food for pollinator insects, birds, frogs and other small animals.

Remember, what feeds the birds and the bees, also feeds us.

If you need help figuring out where to start, the National Wildlife Federation provides a step-by-step guide:

1. Food: Choose native plant species to restore native wildlife habitat. Focus on plants that provide nectar, seeds, nuts, fruits, berries, foliage and pollen. Feeders can supplement natural food sources.

Even dead trees can provide food by attracting insects, mosses, lichens and fungi.

2. Water: All animals need water to survive and some need it for bathing or breeding as well. Build a pond, fill a small pool or even a bird bath.

3. Cover: Wildlife need shelter from bad weather and places to hide from predators or stalk prey.

Shrubs, thickets, brush piles and dead trees and bird houses provide great hiding places.

4. Places to Raise Young: Some species have totally different habitat needs in their juvenile phase than they do as adults.

Provide spaces for wildlife to engage in courtship behavior, mate, and then bear and raise their young, such mature trees, meadow or prairie, nesting boxes, host plants for caterpillars, dead trees, dense shrubs or a thicket, ponds and burrows.

5. Sustainable Practices

NWF recommends using as many of the following practices as possible:

  • Soil and Water Conservation: Create a riparian buffer, capture rain water, use a drip or soaker hose for irrigation, reduce erosion with ground cover, use mulch
  • Controlling Exotic Species: Practice integrated pest management, remove non-native plants and animals, reduce lawn areas
  • Organic Practices: Eliminate chemical pesticides and fertilizers, use compost

When you’re done, apply with NWF to make your garden a certified wildlife habitat. They’ll sell you one of these nice little signs (save $10 until May 31 for Wildlife Month), so you’re neighbors will think you’re awesome instead of crazy: