Garden Habitat Certification

Plant the Natives!

Why Plant Natives?

Pollinators need native plants! Check out Backyard National Park, a concept explained by Douglas Tallamy in his book, Nature’s Best Hope (2019).

“What if each American landowner made it a goal to convert half of his or her lawn to productive native plant communities? Even moderate success could collectively restore some semblance of ecosystem function to more than twenty million acres of what is now ecological wasteland…If we restore the ecosystem function of these twenty million acres, we can create this country’s largest park system…Because so much of this park will be created at our homes, I suggest we call it Homegrown National Park.”

(page 62 of this inspiring book)

NWF’s tips

The numbers of the majestic monarch butterfly continue to decline. But there are steps we can take to help when they arrive this year from the arduous migration. 5 steps to help the monarch butterfly this year.

  1. Dr. Doug Tallamy’s newest book, February 2020, is “Nature’s Best Hope – A New Approach to Conservation that Starts in Your Yard”
  2. CWF partners in Colorado with National Wildlife Federation to participate in NWF’s acclaimed certified wildlife habitat/garden program. You can help protect pollinator populations and other species by creating a wildlife habitat garden – for pollinators, birds, etc.
  3. Certify your garden!
  4. The 2021 virtual Landscaping with Native Plants Conference is February 27.
  5. And the 2020 Landscaping with Native Plants Conference was great as always. We were a sponsor and exhibitor.
    Link to presentations and information.

"In my garden I plant natives such as nodding onion, wallflower, firecracker pentagon, pasque flower, blanketflower, harebells, beebalm, and butterfly milkweed. The showy milkweed has spread onto my property from other properties and I am delighted each year to see an increased number of these plants for monarch butterflies. I intend to supplement my existing natives this spring. I must continue to be vigilant this year – almost all year – to remove promptly any unwelcome thistle such as Canada and musk thistle, and Russian olive sprouts from stumps that I painted in past years."
— Suzanne O’Neill

Colorado Wildlife Federation CWH Affiliate

To certify your garden, go to

This wonderful program provides official recognition for gardens that provide these 5 key elements:

  • Food
  • Water
  • Cover
  • Places to Raise Young
  • Sustainable Practices

Certified Wildlife HabitatsREV

The program can recognize a garden in your yard or balcony container garden. You will be helping to replenish resources for pollinators and other wildlife in Colorado. Certify today!

Find available native plants:

Here is an interesting resource: “Shade Flowers for a Forest Garden.”

Here is a video from NWF re “10 Ways to Nature Play at Home”

City and County of Denver has certified as a community habitat in 2021 via NWF, and in partnership with Colorado Wildlife Federation, Denver Water and Denver Public Schools. When individuals and homeowner/neighborhood associations in the City and County of Denver certify their gardens, this contributes to the points required for Denver to reach community certification status.

Former Colorado Governor & Current US Senator John Hickenlooper declared June Colorado’s pollinator month.

“Bees, and other pollinators, are crucial for our ecosystem and the starting point of the food chain that serves countless species, including humans!  The out-sized work of bees makes them truly fantastic creatures.”

Colorado Resolution 1029 designated first Pollinator Highway  — Interstate 76. It directed Colorado Dept. of Transportation to coordinate with local governments , willing landowners and other groups to use Integrated Vegetative Management strategies to develop pollinator habitat where appropriate — maintenance needs of pollinator habitat are very low.

Idea for water features:
  • Place a hanging basket in the water feature. I found last year that so long as a shade annual in the basket receives constant water in the water feature it has thrived.
Here are links for resources and also to learn how to certify your habitat garden.
Impact of Certified Wildlife Garden Habitats
Resource links:


For anyone who is unfamiliar with cheatgrass, here is a photo so you can identify this invasive scourge that spreads quickly and ruins native habitat.

It now has spread to 100 million acres in western states. If you see it in a small patch and seeds have not disbursed, pull it out by it shallow roots.

Want to plant bulbs that squirrels will not dig up?  For fall planting try Allium and Daffodils. Perhaps you can hide a few tulip bulbs inside a group of Allium and Daffodils but no guarantee that will work.

Go to NWF’s Facebook for a video interview of naturist David Mizejewski who gives tips on providing water for wildlife during summer and how to have a wildlife water feature while eliminating mosquitos.

See the Denver Zoo’s new pollinator garden, The Pollinator Pathway. This became National Wildlife Federation’s 200,000th certified wildlife habitat!

Here is a link to the CBS news story about honeybees wearing tiny backpacks to try and solve the mystery of why worker bees permanently leave their hives.

showy milkweed

Showy Milkweed (Asclepias speciosa)

© Suzanne O'Neill

Its life zone in Colorado is from the plains to the montane. It is a host plant to the Monarch butterfly – milkweed is the only plant that Monarch caterpillars eat.

Colorado has four native types of milkweed.

Pollinator Pathway at the Denver Zoo – installed spring 2016- is NWF’s 200,000th certified garden habitat!

You can see the colorful Blanketflower (Gaillardia aristata).  This Colorado native grows well in the foothills and montane zones. It blooms from June through early fall.

Pollinator Pathway

A closeup of the above Blanketflower (Gaillardia aristata).

Woodhouse’s toad (Anaxyrus woodhousii) in its garden habitat in the Front Range.

Woodhouse Toad

A white-lined sphinx moth (Hyles lineata).