Simple Ideas for Water Features so that You Can Certify Your Yard as a Wildlife Habitat

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

By Jennifer Rotermund

Shoreline’s 1st Annual “Where Our Wild Things Are” Habitat Tour will be Saturday, July 10 from 10 am - 4 pm. There will be mini-learning experiences at each of the seven habitats on the tour, which are designed to demonstrate how easy and fun it is to create a beautiful sanctuary for wildlife in your own yard.

The tour is free of charge, open to the public and begins at Calvin Presbyterian Church, 18826 3rd Ave NW, Shoreline 98177, where maps and directions for the tour will be available. For more information, visit WOWTA’s website or search WOWTA on Facebook.

To certify your yard as a National Wildlife Federation (NWF) Backyard Wildlife Habitat, you need to provide the following FOUR elements:

          1. Food
          2. Water
          3. Shelter
          4. A Place to Raise Young

 Providing food is simple and often already occurring in many yards. Whether it is a bird feeder filled with sunflower seeds, those raspberries you never quite get around to harvesting or the nectar provided by your native landscape, food for wildlife can be provided in a variety of ways.

Making sure your yard has a place where local wildlife can raise their young can look as sophisticated as the bird house and the mason bee box you display proudly or could simply be the stand of majestic conifers on your property.

Shelter (i.e. a place for easily preyed upon wildlife to escape to for safety and security) can be provided by a brush pile or those overgrown shrubs you keep telling yourself need pruning.

Photos By Jennifer Rotermund

So far, this all sounds fairly easy, correct? You may even realize now that you have each of these three elements in your yard. This is good! However, so often I hear people tell me, “I can’t certify my yard; I don’t have a water feature.” I understand; elaborate water features are very seductive. We’ve all seen them (maybe some of you do have one or more of them) – the Koi fish pond, the bubbling water fountain or the cascading waterfall. 

These are beautiful additions to any landscape and the wildlife will love them (though your Koi fish may become Great Heron food and your neighborhood raccoon may practice his fountain building skills by dismantling yours) and all of these lovely water features cost you time and money to install and maintain.

Don’t worry about obtaining a sophisticated water feature, if you don’t really want one, and don’t let this be the habitat feature that stops you from certifying your yard as a Wildlife Habitat. 

Instead, take a deep breath, relax and visualize a simple dish of water. Visualize yourself placing this dish in an open spot in your yard free from hiding places for the neighbor’s cat (remember: you want the wildlife you invite into your yard to feel welcomed). Now repeat the following mantra to yourself, “I will wash this dish twice a week.” Guess what?! You now have everything you need to become certified! Oh, there’s just one more thing; go to the website, fill out and send in your application and get certified. It really is THAT easy.

Jennifer Rotermund is the Lead Gardener for Garden of Weedin’ (a local pesticide-free garden maintenance company), owner of Gaiaceous Gardens (an urban vegetable and herb farm and certified wildlife habitat in Shoreline) and a Habitat Steward. 


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