What to Expect

By signing up today, you’re joining thousands of urban and suburban residents who are transforming their gardens to create healthier communities, 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



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.

Our program only works with properties smaller than one (1) acre, except for community sites such as schools, community gardens, religious institutions, etc. in Multnomah, Clackamas, and Washington counties in Oregon, and Clark County in Washington.

Enrollment is offered on a sliding scale starting at just $5 to help remove financial barriers to participation.

Site Visit

Once you apply, a Backyard Habitat Technician will contact you to set up a site visit. The Technician will walk through your entire yard – not just the backyard. They will identify the harmful weeds recommended for removal, 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 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 with native plants so you can reach certification. When we visit to certify a yard, we look for areas where the majority (50% or more) of plants are locally native species as recommended in your site report. Our Naturescaping with Backyard Habitat video (4 minutes) and presentation (5 1/2 minutes) and Naturescaping with Natives Plants handout provide additional context.

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.


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.

See What Others Have Done!