What to Expect

By signing up today, you’re joining thousands of urban residents who are transforming their gardens to create healthier cities, for people and wildlife.

“I’m experiencing a fairly dramatic increase in the number of species of birds and pollinators who frequent my garden and this makes me think about how, if more people on a larger scale do what I’m doing on a small scale, that we will be increasing the habitat throughout the Columbia River region.  We’re all in this together!”

Janet, Platinum Certified 2014

 

Apply

Your yard does not have to be planted for you to join the program. We welcome everyone, from “blank canvases” to “certifiable forests.” Sign up now to take advantage of the discounts and resources that the program provides.

There’s a one-time $35 application fee that will be used to support you in your journey and help the program grow. The discounts and coupons that we provide offset that fee.

Site Assessment

Once you apply, a Backyard Habitat Technician will contact you to set up a site assessment visit. The Technician will walk through your entire yard – not just the backyard. They will identify the weeds that must be removed, listen to your goals and desires for the space, and make recommendations based on your conversation. Following that visit, you’ll receive a Site Report document via email with recommendations and recapping the steps that you have to take to reach certification. That is your homework.

**Please note that while we try to schedule site assessment visits as soon as your application comes through, it may take up to 4 weeks for us to visit you during the busy seasons.

Get Dirty, Get Discounts

We provide a number of benefits, resources and discounts to help you transform your yard. Participants get a personalized site report with tips on how to naturescape (to plant at least 50% locally native plants in the planting beds) so you can reach certification. Have questions about your “homework?” We are here to support you and we have a vast network of program supporters able to help you too! Need inspiration for your garden? You’d be invited to our Garden Tour. Need help with some design ideas or heavy lifting? No problem. Check out our program-approved Landscape Professionals.

Certification

How long will it take you to get certified will depend on how much work is involved, and how much time and energy you have for it. Some people reach certification in a few weeks while others may take years. We are here to support you reach your goals as soon as possible.

When you’re ready to certify, contact us and a trained program volunteer will schedule another visit with you.

Once certified, you’ll be rewarded with a beautiful yard sign! Next optional steps may be to get your neighbors involved, get your whole block certified, to be a resource for them. The possibilities are endless.

Certification Renewal

Certifications expire after 3 years. Renewing your certification is as easy as replying to a questionnaire that we will send you close to the expiration date.

Many program participants enjoy working toward the next level of certification – an upgrade. We’d be thrilled to revisit your property to upgrade it just like we did for your first certification. Contact us and we’ll ask a trained volunteer to coordinate an upgrade visit with you.

Testimonials

We have thoroughly enjoyed being a part of the Backyard Habitat Program.  From the initial site visit, to follow up plans, the plant sales, and our final certification, it has all been such a wonderful experience. We love our new yard! It has done so much more than make our space beautiful and relatively care free - we have developed a whole new appreciation of how all of nature works together to create this beautiful Oregon that we love.

Sandy, 7/10/18

2018-08-27T12:39:35-08:00

Sandy, 7/10/18

We have thoroughly enjoyed being a part of the Backyard Habitat Program.  From the initial site visit, to follow up plans, the plant sales, and our final certification, it has all been such a wonderful experience. We love our new yard! It has done so much more than make our space beautiful and relatively care free - we have developed a whole new appreciation of how all of nature works together to create this beautiful Oregon that we love.
One thing that I wanted you to know is that your program has really made sense to me and created a whole other level of meaningfulness for me in my work and in my own garden. My first experience of becoming aware of nature was in a neighbors pond garden where I use to catch tadpoles. I was around 6 years old and would be totally mesmerized for hours. They also had a grape arbor and bamboo grove and even though it was a small development and all the houses were the same this oasis was truly like walking into a magical space and took me incredible places. The reason why I added a pond is because of this memory and the associated positive feelings. It is my hope that by helping folks with their own wildlife sanctuaries they can conjure incredible connections to nature and their own inner wilderness.

Leslie, 6/21/16

2018-08-27T12:51:23-08:00

Leslie, 6/21/16

One thing that I wanted you to know is that your program has really made sense to me and created a whole other level of meaningfulness for me in my work and in my own garden. My first experience of becoming aware of nature was in a neighbors pond garden where I use to catch tadpoles. I was around 6 years old and would be totally mesmerized for hours. They also had a grape arbor and bamboo grove and even though it was a small development and all the houses were the same this oasis was truly like walking into a magical space and took me incredible places. The reason why I added a pond is because of this memory and the associated positive feelings. It is my hope that by helping folks with their own wildlife sanctuaries they can conjure incredible connections to nature and their own inner wilderness.
I get permission to see other people's yards, which means I see their imaginations in action as they break away from conventional ways of approaching nature. I get to see a lot of courage, persistence and vision--people are so heroic for taking on that laurel, those blackberries, the concrete, and the lawn. I get to talk gardening, birds, insects and of course plants, plants, plants with impassioned, curious people. I get to be a small part of something important: remaking the urban landscape for human/nonhuman coexistence rather than perpetual combat.

Phil (Certification Volunteer), 6/15/16

2018-08-27T12:53:53-08:00

Phil (Certification Volunteer), 6/15/16

I get permission to see other people's yards, which means I see their imaginations in action as they break away from conventional ways of approaching nature. I get to see a lot of courage, persistence and vision--people are so heroic for taking on that laurel, those blackberries, the concrete, and the lawn. I get to talk gardening, birds, insects and of course plants, plants, plants with impassioned, curious people. I get to be a small part of something important: remaking the urban landscape for human/nonhuman coexistence rather than perpetual combat.
Our most exciting habitat news to share is that while I was planting our vegetable garden on mother's day, there was a mama hummingbird building her nest overlooking our garden and directly in view from our dining room window.  We are over the moon.  So exciting - we couldn't stop talking about it for more than a week.  Mama bird is a local celebrity.  Can't wait to see a new little hummingbird poke its head up over the edge of the itty-bitty nest.

Jessica, 6/3/16

2018-08-27T12:59:06-08:00

Jessica, 6/3/16

Our most exciting habitat news to share is that while I was planting our vegetable garden on mother's day, there was a mama hummingbird building her nest overlooking our garden and directly in view from our dining room window.  We are over the moon.  So exciting - we couldn't stop talking about it for more than a week.  Mama bird is a local celebrity.  Can't wait to see a new little hummingbird poke its head up over the edge of the itty-bitty nest.
I really enjoy participating in the program. I realized by learning more about native plants for my garden, that I can better identify them in nature as well when we go hiking. It gives me a better sense of place for living in the Northwest (I moved to Portland from Germany 13 years ago) and I enjoy that.

Barbara, 4/22/15

2018-08-27T12:59:48-08:00

Barbara, 4/22/15

I really enjoy participating in the program. I realized by learning more about native plants for my garden, that I can better identify them in nature as well when we go hiking. It gives me a better sense of place for living in the Northwest (I moved to Portland from Germany 13 years ago) and I enjoy that.
When I committed myself to this project, I had not envisioned combing every square inch of an acre and a half on my hands and knees, but that is what I have done to the tune of at least ten pick-up truckloads of non-native plants going to a recycler.  It is finally finished (nearly me, too), rid of ivy, vinca, blackberries, bamboo, holy, wild strawberry and anything else suspicious. The bamboo was especially challenging as I used loppers to cut down over one thousand of the poles.

Lou, 6/1/14

2018-08-27T13:00:24-08:00

Lou, 6/1/14

When I committed myself to this project, I had not envisioned combing every square inch of an acre and a half on my hands and knees, but that is what I have done to the tune of at least ten pick-up truckloads of non-native plants going to a recycler.  It is finally finished (nearly me, too), rid of ivy, vinca, blackberries, bamboo, holy, wild strawberry and anything else suspicious. The bamboo was especially challenging as I used loppers to cut down over one thousand of the poles.
I had already known a fair amount about natives/naturescaping, but I learned a lot more about those as well as streambank erosion control, invasives and the process of grant writing.  I hope to put my newly expanded knowledge into action soon, but even if other projects are the ones chosen I will still be doing whatever I can on my own and with whatever help I find to make this little stretch of Vermont Creek a native sanctuary for wildlife and people.

Tom, 3/2/14

2018-08-27T13:01:29-08:00

Tom, 3/2/14

I had already known a fair amount about natives/naturescaping, but I learned a lot more about those as well as streambank erosion control, invasives and the process of grant writing.  I hope to put my newly expanded knowledge into action soon, but even if other projects are the ones chosen I will still be doing whatever I can on my own and with whatever help I find to make this little stretch of Vermont Creek a native sanctuary for wildlife and people.
Dave and I are pretty happy to have been certified, a sense of accomplishment after working hard and long … a very significant benchmark for us in this great adventure. The rewards of transforming the yard have been delightful beyond our expectations. By having this easily accessible space to appreciate nature we feel that has taught us to see with better eyes the parks we visit thus, enhancing the experience. It’s a fantastic class room where there is always so much going on. The Backyard Habitat Certification Program has served as useful guidelines and tools in the exploration of the natural rhythms, an invaluable resource of information, plants and great friendships.  😉  We feel very fortunate to be part of the program.

 

Lorena, 4/23/13

2018-08-27T13:02:23-08:00

Lorena, 4/23/13

Dave and I are pretty happy to have been certified, a sense of accomplishment after working hard and long … a very significant benchmark for us in this great adventure. The rewards of transforming the yard have been delightful beyond our expectations. By having this easily accessible space to appreciate nature we feel that has taught us to see with better eyes the parks we visit thus, enhancing the experience. It’s a fantastic class room where there is always so much going on. The Backyard Habitat Certification Program has served as useful guidelines and tools in the exploration of the natural rhythms, an invaluable resource of information, plants and great friendships.  😉  We feel very fortunate to be part of the program.  
Just have to let you know how much pleasure we are getting from our yard as the landscape matures (!) and the birds are coming through. This morning we had a townsend's warbler—first time I've ever seen one. Also have had red-breasted sapsucker, downy woodpeckers, black grosbeak in addition to pine siskins, varied thrush (just came back, loves the leaves we gathered and spread around), goldfinches (lesser and american), yellow rumped warbler, Anna's hummingbirds (they'll rest 3 feet from us now), juncos, jays, house finches, flickers, etc. Also have mushrooms sprouting and our snag is quite the attraction for squirrels to sit on (a friend brought in a 6 foot cedar stump from centralia. We planted it in the backyard and attached moss and licorice fern. Quite handsome.)

Rex, 12/5/12

2018-08-27T13:03:34-08:00

Rex, 12/5/12

Just have to let you know how much pleasure we are getting from our yard as the landscape matures (!) and the birds are coming through. This morning we had a townsend's warbler—first time I've ever seen one. Also have had red-breasted sapsucker, downy woodpeckers, black grosbeak in addition to pine siskins, varied thrush (just came back, loves the leaves we gathered and spread around), goldfinches (lesser and american), yellow rumped warbler, Anna's hummingbirds (they'll rest 3 feet from us now), juncos, jays, house finches, flickers, etc. Also have mushrooms sprouting and our snag is quite the attraction for squirrels to sit on (a friend brought in a 6 foot cedar stump from centralia. We planted it in the backyard and attached moss and licorice fern. Quite handsome.)
I think that the opportunity to get a metal sign is a good addition to the already amazing program that you have.  Seeing it on a neighbor's fence not only gave me the opportunity to actually meet those neighbors, but got us engaged in good discussion around what we are and will be doing with our yards. Having my sign up now spurs me to think of a timeline for my yard and to get back to work on the invasives along my back fence.

Morgan, 9/1/12

2018-08-27T13:04:10-08:00

Morgan, 9/1/12

I think that the opportunity to get a metal sign is a good addition to the already amazing program that you have.  Seeing it on a neighbor's fence not only gave me the opportunity to actually meet those neighbors, but got us engaged in good discussion around what we are and will be doing with our yards. Having my sign up now spurs me to think of a timeline for my yard and to get back to work on the invasives along my back fence.
I thoroughly enjoyed the Plant Propagation class and hope that you will be able to organize more. Not only does the content provide the audience with tools to improve their native gardens, but it keeps participants interested and broadens their scope. With deeper understanding, participants can share their knowledge with passerbys in their neighborhood thereby spreading the concept of the value of native.

Anonymous, 11/10/11

2018-08-27T13:07:14-08:00

Anonymous, 11/10/11

I thoroughly enjoyed the Plant Propagation class and hope that you will be able to organize more. Not only does the content provide the audience with tools to improve their native gardens, but it keeps participants interested and broadens their scope. With deeper understanding, participants can share their knowledge with passerbys in their neighborhood thereby spreading the concept of the value of native.
Since being part of the Backyard Habitat Certification Program, the variety of bird species visiting our yard or nesting here has increased dramatically. We also enjoy less maintenance that leaves more time for the areas we use for food growing and just socializing. Our backyard stays cooler and grassy areas greener with strong canopy.

Beverly, 7/28/18

2018-08-28T14:22:12-08:00

Beverly, 7/28/18

Since being part of the Backyard Habitat Certification Program, the variety of bird species visiting our yard or nesting here has increased dramatically. We also enjoy less maintenance that leaves more time for the areas we use for food growing and just socializing. Our backyard stays cooler and grassy areas greener with strong canopy.
Having a backyard habitat has significantly increased the numbers of birds, bees and butterflies in my yard. It is so exciting to see these creatures come without having to feed them with feeders. And the yard is so easy to maintain - no excessive watering! My favorite native plant combo is sword ferns, bleeding heart and oregon oxalis. I also love maidenhair fern and deer fern together in the shade.

Ladine, 7/29/18

2018-08-28T14:23:27-08:00

Ladine, 7/29/18

Having a backyard habitat has significantly increased the numbers of birds, bees and butterflies in my yard. It is so exciting to see these creatures come without having to feed them with feeders. And the yard is so easy to maintain - no excessive watering! My favorite native plant combo is sword ferns, bleeding heart and oregon oxalis. I also love maidenhair fern and deer fern together in the shade.
I’d like to maintain my property in an “au natural” quasi wild state. The property abuts an area that was designated as “sensitive lands” because it is a wildlife trail down to the north side of Lake Oswego. The wildlife is abundant and inspirational. The antics of fawns playing hide and seek with boundless energy on the hills and bedding down on the lawn — towhees, junkos, multiple species of hummingbirds, nuthatches and yesterday a pileated woodpecker. The flickers used the snag 2 years but I think squirrels found their nest this year. Downies and sapsuckers protect my trees. Chickadees used a cherry tree snag this spring. Screech owls hunt the mice drawn to the bird feeders. This spring I heard a barred owl for awhile. A chipmunk lives in the rock wall by the deck. It’s wonderful!

Marlene, 8/25/18

2018-08-28T14:26:45-08:00

Marlene, 8/25/18

I’d like to maintain my property in an “au natural” quasi wild state. The property abuts an area that was designated as “sensitive lands” because it is a wildlife trail down to the north side of Lake Oswego. The wildlife is abundant and inspirational. The antics of fawns playing hide and seek with boundless energy on the hills and bedding down on the lawn — towhees, junkos, multiple species of hummingbirds, nuthatches and yesterday a pileated woodpecker. The flickers used the snag 2 years but I think squirrels found their nest this year. Downies and sapsuckers protect my trees. Chickadees used a cherry tree snag this spring. Screech owls hunt the mice drawn to the bird feeders. This spring I heard a barred owl for awhile. A chipmunk lives in the rock wall by the deck. It’s wonderful!
I saw my first Oregon iris today I couldn't believe that it grew out and up so quickly. Every day I see something new. I am thrilled watching the natives take hold. I hope some birds will eventually make nests in the boxes.

Peggy, 4/1/12

2018-08-28T14:30:58-08:00

Peggy, 4/1/12

I saw my first Oregon iris today I couldn't believe that it grew out and up so quickly. Every day I see something new. I am thrilled watching the natives take hold. I hope some birds will eventually make nests in the boxes.
I love the design of this program - encouraging healthy aspects in all areas of plants, wildlife, and water usage along with careful choosing of what to add to the garden, or what is unhealthy for the whole environment! It has helped me better select my plant list and given me a focus that has been very helpful. THANK YOU so much for having this program!!!

Ann, 2/9/19

2019-02-20T09:29:21-08:00

Ann, 2/9/19

I love the design of this program - encouraging healthy aspects in all areas of plants, wildlife, and water usage along with careful choosing of what to add to the garden, or what is unhealthy for the whole environment! It has helped me better select my plant list and given me a focus that has been very helpful. THANK YOU so much for having this program!!!
This program has been so much fun. Since committing to some of the practices, I’ve seen a major increase in visiting and nesting birds, gentle native bees, and curious pedestrians who love the look of our city yard. It looks and feels like a woodland, and I’ve inspired 2 neighbors to join the program. The resources like the yard tours and plant sales make such a difference, being on a budget. Thank you for all of the support!

Natalie, 3/17/19

2019-03-20T13:27:58-08:00

Natalie, 3/17/19

This program has been so much fun. Since committing to some of the practices, I’ve seen a major increase in visiting and nesting birds, gentle native bees, and curious pedestrians who love the look of our city yard. It looks and feels like a woodland, and I’ve inspired 2 neighbors to join the program. The resources like the yard tours and plant sales make such a difference, being on a budget. Thank you for all of the support!
Backyard Habitat is a goldmine of information and guidance. After I received my report, I was inspired enough to replace plants I had recently planted with more appropriate native plants. I would encourage everyone to get an evaluation before you do anything in your yard.

Carol, 4/7/19

2019-04-16T15:16:28-08:00

Carol, 4/7/19

Backyard Habitat is a goldmine of information and guidance. After I received my report, I was inspired enough to replace plants I had recently planted with more appropriate native plants. I would encourage everyone to get an evaluation before you do anything in your yard.
We love the regular visits of birds through our garden: chickadees, bushtits, juncos, finches, and during summer, the cedar waxwings feast on our serviceberries. The low maintenance and low-watering needs makes gardening a joy! Plus we love seeing the succession of flowers, from Oregon grape, to camas, to maianthemum and on and on!

Jonathan, 3/26/19

2019-06-04T08:47:05-08:00

Jonathan, 3/26/19

We love the regular visits of birds through our garden: chickadees, bushtits, juncos, finches, and during summer, the cedar waxwings feast on our serviceberries. The low maintenance and low-watering needs makes gardening a joy! Plus we love seeing the succession of flowers, from Oregon grape, to camas, to maianthemum and on and on!
This is an amazing and inspirational program that helped me create a wildlife haven out of a previously barren yard. I spend many hours now just gawking at so many various species of birds, insects, and spiders, many that I'd never seen before! I watch butterflies lay eggs in checker mallow buds and get up real close to crab spiders catching prey in my native meadow. I feel proud when I hear the crickets chirping loudly on hot summer nights, knowing they've found a place to thrive. We hear the whistling of beautiful cedar waxwing visitors while they gobble down osoberry and serviceberries. And, we now have the pleasure of hosting downy woodpecker chicks in our newly dead walnut tree (with plans to snag it once they fledge). All of this is incredibly entertaining and so rewarding. This program is the best way to start everyone off with naturescaping, as well as keeping us up on new ways to sustain and improve the healthy habitats we create. So much joy!

Michelle, 6/4/19

2019-06-04T14:30:36-08:00

Michelle, 6/4/19

This is an amazing and inspirational program that helped me create a wildlife haven out of a previously barren yard. I spend many hours now just gawking at so many various species of birds, insects, and spiders, many that I'd never seen before! I watch butterflies lay eggs in checker mallow buds and get up real close to crab spiders catching prey in my native meadow. I feel proud when I hear the crickets chirping loudly on hot summer nights, knowing they've found a place to thrive. We hear the whistling of beautiful cedar waxwing visitors while they gobble down osoberry and serviceberries. And, we now have the pleasure of hosting downy woodpecker chicks in our newly dead walnut tree (with plans to snag it once they fledge). All of this is incredibly entertaining and so rewarding. This program is the best way to start everyone off with naturescaping, as well as keeping us up on new ways to sustain and improve the healthy habitats we create. So much joy!
It is absolutely great fun to meet and share with others who have the same concerns and values in being responsible in the care of our environment. Looking forward to attending informational classes, purchasing native plants and helping each other brings great satisfaction that even small things have an impact in your community.

Mary, 6/14/19

2019-06-19T13:51:17-08:00

Mary, 6/14/19

It is absolutely great fun to meet and share with others who have the same concerns and values in being responsible in the care of our environment. Looking forward to attending informational classes, purchasing native plants and helping each other brings great satisfaction that even small things have an impact in your community.
The Backyard Habitat Certification Program's guidance helped us transform our backyard from brambles & ivy into a lush, naturescaped refuge! We were previously oblivious to the connection between native plants - native insects - native birds. It has taken a commitment of time and resources, but oh so worth it for the park-like retreat we now enjoy year round—fitness paths, seasonal parade of shoots/foliage/buds/blooms/seeds, small mammals, snakes, bees & butterflies, deer, and two dozen varieties of birds. Thank you BHCP!

Steve and Jackie, 6/25/19

2019-06-28T11:14:11-08:00

Steve and Jackie, 6/25/19

The Backyard Habitat Certification Program's guidance helped us transform our backyard from brambles & ivy into a lush, naturescaped refuge! We were previously oblivious to the connection between native plants - native insects - native birds. It has taken a commitment of time and resources, but oh so worth it for the park-like retreat we now enjoy year round—fitness paths, seasonal parade of shoots/foliage/buds/blooms/seeds, small mammals, snakes, bees & butterflies, deer, and two dozen varieties of birds. Thank you BHCP!

See What Others Have Done!