Certification Criteria

We offer three levels of certification:
Silver, Gold & Platinum

During your Site Assessment, the Technician will help determine which elements are right for you and your yard. Then, work toward higher certification levels in years to come and enjoy the array of wildlife your yard supports.

Our Certification Criteria is available as a downloadable PDF here: CERTIFICATION CRITERIA – 2016.

Invasive Weeds

Invasive Weeds

Weed introductions often alter ecosystem processes, creating a domino effect throughout the rest of the ecosystem. The weeds on our list have been identified through local ecologists and botanists as causing or could cause environmental and economic damage.

Remove all invasive weeds listed under the certification level you’re working toward. All criteria of previous levels must be met before moving forward.

Silver

  • Evergreen & Armenian Blackberry (Rubus laciniatus & Rubus armeniacus)
  • Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata)
  • Giant Hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum)
  • Ivy (all cultivars, Hedra spp.)
  • Knotweed (Polygonum spp.)
  • Orange Hawkweed (Hieracium aurantiacum)
  • Pokeweed (Phytolacca americana)
  • Policeman’s Helmet (Impatiens glandulifera)
  • Purple Loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria)
  • Scot’s Broom (Cytisus scoparius)
  • Spotted, Meadow & Diffuse Knapweeds (Centaurea spp.)
  • Spurge Laurel (Daphne laureola)
  • Traveler’s Joy (Clematis vitalba)
  • Yellow Archangel (Lamiastrum galeoblodon)
  • Yellow Flag Iris (Iris pseudacorus)

Gold

  • Butterfly Bush (Buddleia davidii – all varieties)
  • False Brome (Brachypodium sylvaticum)
  • Hedge Bindweed (Calystegia sepium)
  • Italian Arum (Arum italicum)
  • Japanese Butterbur (Petasites japonica)
  • Lesser Celandine (Ranunculus ficaria)
  • Pampas & Jubata Grass (Cortaderia ssp.)
  • Robert Geranium (Geranium robertianum)
  • Shining Geranium (Geranium lucidum)

Invasive Trees – under 20ft

  • Black Locust (Robinia pseudoacacia)
  • English Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna)
  • English Holly (Ilex aquifolium)
  • Norway Maple (Acer platanoides)
  • Tree-of-Heaven (Ailanthus altissima)

Platinum

  • Creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia)
  • English & Portuguese Laurel (Prunus spp.)
  • Fennel (Foeniculum spp.)
  • Large & Small-leaf Periwinkle (Vinca spp.)
  • Reed Canarygrass & Ribbon Grass (Phalaris arundinacea)

Invasive Trees – over 20ft

  • Black Locust (Robinia pseudoacacia)
  • English Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna)
  • English Holly (Ilex aquifolium)
  • Norway Maple (Acer platanoides)
  • Tree-of-Heaven (Ailanthus altissima)
Native Plants

Native Plants

Ninety percent of all insects are specialized, meaning they share an evolutionary history with native plants and rely on them to survive. Since animals directly or indirectly depend on plants for their food, the diversity of animals in a particular habitat is very closely linked to the diversity of plants in the habitat.

Tallamy, Douglas. Bringing Nature Home. Portland: Timber Press, 2007.

Be sure to take advantage of the huge discounts at our exclusive native plant sales! Also note, our program focuses primarily on the use of locally native plants, as outlined in the Portland Plant List.

Silver

  • Naturescape at least 5% of available property with locally native plants*
  • Include at least 3 out of 5 vegetation levels

Gold

  • Naturescape at least 15% of available property with locally native plants*
  • Include at least 4 out of 5 vegetation levels

Platinum

  • Naturescape at least 50% of available property with locally native plants*
  • Include all 5 vegetation levels

Vegetation Levels

  1. Overstory Canopy
    30 feet or higher | Examples: Oregon White Oak or Western Red Cedar
  2. Understory Canopy
    Less than 30 feet | Examples: Vine Maple or Cascara
  3. Large Shrub Layer
    5 to 20 feet | Examples: Indian Plum or Serviceberry
  4. Small/Medium Shrub Layer
    Less than 5 feet | Examples: Salal or native ferns E. Ground Layer Examples: Inside-out flower or Western Red Columbine
  5. Ground Layer
    Examples: Inside-out flower or Western Red Columbine

 

*to verify and select locally native plants please use the Portland Plant List

Pesticide Reduction

Pesticide Reduction

The use of pesticides (insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, etc.) can be very harmful to wildlife, pets and people. Planting well-chosen native plants can create wildlife habitat, conserve water and reduce the need for pesticides and fertilizers.

For Backyard certification, use Metro’s Grow Smart, Grow Safe searchable interactive directory to find the least hazardous products and practices for a productive, safe and healthy yard.

 

Silver

  • Use only YELLOW or GREEN zone chemicals if necessary, according to an IPM strategy
  • No use of RED zone chemicals
  • For searchable lists of red, yellow, and green zone pesticides see: www.growsmartgrowsafe.org

Gold

  • Use only GREEN zone chemicals if necessary, according to an IPM strategy
  • No use of RED or YELLOW zone chemicals
  • For searchable lists of red, yellow, and green zone pesticides see: www.growsmartgrowsafe.org

Platinum

  • Use only GREEN zone chemicals if necessary, according to an IPM strategy
  • No use of RED or YELLOW zone chemicals
  • Take the Metro No Pesticides Pledge

Stormwater Management

When it rains or snows in urban areas, water washes over streets, roofs and other surfaces picking up dirt, chemicals and oil along the way. Stormwater management in your yard can mimic nature by allowing runoff to soak into the ground, helping to filter out pollutants and decrease or eliminate runoff from your property.

Stormwater options are different for every property. Research the most appropriate strategies for your site before implementation.

Silver

Choose One:

  • Large canopy tree over 30ft (cannot be nuisance species)
  • Disconnected downspouts where appropriate
  • Raingardens,where appropriate
  • Remove impervious surfaces and/or grass 500ft or more
  • Ecoroof according to City specifications
  • Increase naturescaping 10% higher than your certification level requirement
  • Restore soils (i.e. leave the leaves)
  • Water conservation (i.e. eliminating lawn irrigation, water in morning and evening only)
  • Adopt eco-friendly maintenance practicies (i.e. petroleum-free yard care, use landscapers from Backyard Landscape Directory)

Gold

Choose Two:

  • Large canopy tree over 30ft (cannot be nuisance species)
  • Disconnected downspouts, where appropriate
  • Raingardens,where appropriate
  • Remove impervious surfaces and/or grass 500ft or more
  • Ecoroof according to City specifications
  • Increase naturescaping 10% higher than your certification level requirement
  • Restore soils (i.e. leave the leaves)
  • Water conservation (i.e. eliminating lawn irrigation, water in morning and evening only)
  • Adopt eco-friendly maintenance practices (i.e. petroleum-free yard care, use landscapers from Backyard Landscape Directory)

 

Platinum

Choose Three:

  • Large canopy tree over 30ft (cannot be nuisance species)
  • Disconnected downspouts, where appropriate
  • Raingardens,where appropriate
  • Remove impervious surfaces and/or grass 500ft or more
  • Ecoroof according to City specifications
  • Increase naturescaping 10% higher than your certification level requirement
  • Restore soils (i.e. leave the leaves)
  • Water conservation (i.e. eliminating lawn irrigation, water in morning and evening only)
  • Adopt eco-friendly maintenance practices (i.e. petroleum-free yard care, use landscapers from Backyard Landscape Directory)
Wildlife Stewardship

Wildlife Stewardship

The Portland-Vancouver region sits at an incredible ecological crossroads. The confluence of two great rivers, the Columbia and the Willamette, and is located along the Pacific Flyway for bird migration.

For example, of the approximate 500 bird species found in Oregon, 209 use the Portland-Vancouver region for some portion of their lifecycle. In addition to birds, it’s also critical to support beneficial insects and our native pollinators in our gardens.

 

Silver

Choose One:

  • Wildlife water feature (natural source, maintained bird or bug bath)
  • Bird or bat nest boxes (appropriate to native species)
  • Pollinator and beneficial insect nesting habitat (i.e. rock piles, bundles of stems and branches, mason bee house)
  • Snag or nurse log
  • Reduce outdor lighting during bird migration (March-May, Sept-Nov)
  • Reduce bird window collisions
  • Native pollinator meadow which bloom through the growing season

 

Gold

Choose Two + If you have a cat, you must have a strong plan in place that reduces its negative impacts on wildlife:

  • Wildlife water feature (natural source, maintained bird or bug bath)
  • Bird or bat nest boxes (appropriate to native species)
  • Pollinator and beneficial insect nesting habitat (i.e. rock piles, bundles of stems and branches, mason bee house)
  • Snag or nurse log
  • Reduce outdor lighting during bird migration (March-May, Sept-Nov)
  • Reduce bird window collisions
  • Native pollinator meadow which bloom through the growing season

Platinum

Choose Three + If you have a cat, it must be kept inside or in outdoor enclosures 100% of time:

  • Wildlife water feature (natural source, maintained bird or bug bath)
  • Bird or bat nest boxes (appropriate to native species)
  • Pollinator and beneficial insect nesting habitat (i.e. rock piles, bundles of stems and branches, mason bee house)
  • Snag or nurse log
  • Reduce outdor lighting during bird migration (March-May, Sept-Nov)
  • Reduce bird window collisions
  • Native pollinator meadow which bloom through the growing season

Education & Volunteerism

Take things to the next level to achieve Platinum status. Become invested in the community by learning and sharing your knowledge with others.

Silver

Optional, none required

Gold

Optional, none required

Platinum

Choose at least two from the list:

  • Recruit 2 neighbors to signup!
  • Allow site to be showcased in a yard tour
  • Volunteer for the Backyard Habitat Certification Program
  • Attend continuing education classes (i.e. EDRR Weed Watcher)
  • Participate in OSU Extension Master Gardener Programs