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 is welcome in any state, but we encourage you to sign-up early to take advantage of the discounts and resources. There’s a one-time $35 application fee that will be used to support you in your journey and help the program grow.

**Please note that while we try to schedule visits as soon as possible, with the busy spring season, wait times once you register can be up to 4 weeks.

Site Assessment

Once you apply, a Backyard Habitat Technician will contact you to set up a site assessment. The Technician will assess the state of your entire yard – not just the backyard. They will identify invasive weeds, listen to your goals and desires for the space, and help make recommendations that are right for you. Following the visit, you’ll receive a Site Report full of plant recommendations and recapping your steps toward certification.

Get Dirty, Get Discounts

We provide a number of benefits and resources and discounts to assist you as you transform your yard. Be sure to take part in our discounted native plant sales. Need help with some design ideas or heavy lifting? No problem. Check out our program-approved Landscape Professionals.

Certification

It normally takes about a year to meet the certification criteria outlined by the Technician in your Site Report. When you’re ready, contact us and a trained program volunteer will pay you another visit. Once certified, you’ll be rewarded with a beautiful yard sign to display to your neighbors!

Certification Renewal

Certifications are valid for 3 years. We’ll be in touch when it comes time to set up a free renewal visit. Many program participants enjoy working toward the next level of certification during this time. We’d be thrilled to help you create a plan to get there, just like we did for your first certification.

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+00:00

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+00:00

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+00:00

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+00:00

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+00:00

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+00:00

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+00:00

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+00:00

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+00:00

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+00:00

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+00:00

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+00:00

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+00:00

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+00:00

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+00:00

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.

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