Who is a Habitat Hero?
Habitat Heroes are people, schools, organizations or communities that practice a form of landscape stewardship, called ‘wildscaping’ – landscaping designed to attract and benefit birds, pollinators and other wildlife, large and small. Whether the landscape you tend to is a residential yard, a few pots on a balcony, a public park or schoolyard garden, Habitat Heroes believe in growing a healthy community. By combating the loss of open spaces and creating green corridors that link your wildscape to larger natural areas and providing habitat for wildlife, we can feel good about doing something positive for ourselves, the environment and our wild friends.
The good news is that gardeners can make a difference! Featured here is a 2014 Habitat Hero awardee – the Freudenburgs’ residential wildscape in Colorado Springs.
Why Create a Wildscape?
Your wildscape can stitch together the landscape and contribute to a mosaic of wildlife habitat!
According to the EPA, residential lawns cover more than 20 million acres in the U.S. If all those yards were transformed into small habitat patches, the additional wildlife habitat would be comparable to increasing the area of the entire National Wildlife Refuge system by 20%. The wildlife benefits would be enormous, and we’d all experience the joy of doing something positive for nature and our environment.
Help bring conservation home, one garden at a time!
What components make up a Habitat Hero Garden?
Water Conservation – use less water (and thus less energy) by planting natives and regionally adapted plants;
TIP: Turf grass requires 4x more water than plants like perennials or shrubs. Save water by replacing sterile turf grass with a variety of regionally adapted native plants.
Protect Water Quality – keep our local water sources clean by not using pesticides and eliminating harmful runoff;
TIP: Identify your watershed – learn where the water that drains off of your property goes. Which rivers, streams, lakes, or other water bodies are affected by your actions?
Eliminate Chemical Use – contribute to a more sustainable and healthier world
TIP: Almost all songbirds feed their young insects; provide nesting materials for birds and you’ll be providing a natural pest control for your garden. A stellar example are Barn Swallows, they feed their young 8,000 insects per day – chemicals are no match to Mother Nature.
Plant Natives – replace turf grass areas with a variety of native perennials, shrubs, grasses and trees – creating a garden rich in textures, bloom times, color, vertical structure and food sources;
TIP: Regionally adapted or native plants have evolved in our harsh growing conditions – these plants are hardy and do well in our region.
Control Invasive Plants – that degrade habitat in and beyond our yards;
TIP: Learn how to identify invasive and non-native species per the Colorado Department of Agriculture, Noxious Weed Species ID list.
Support Wildlife – plant bird and butterfly-friendly species for year-round food, cover and shelter to support a diversity of wildlife.
TIP: Providing food when provisions are scarce help birds and other wildlife, so aim to have plants that bloom during the shoulder seasons – early spring and late fall.
Ways to become Involved with the Habitat Hero Program
Workshops – Attend one of our workshops to learn about wildscaping tips & techniques, attracting wildlife in an urban environment, planting a Habitat Hero demonstration garden, and more! These events are designed to appeal to both the novice gardener and veteran alike.
Youth Programs – Our goal is to connect young minds with nature and encouraging them to become the ultimate Junior Habitat Hero! Activities are designed to spark a sense of curiosity of the world we share with other creatures.
Volunteer – Whether you are a plant buff, want to get your hands dirty at a planting event, or enjoy connecting with community members – we would enjoy your helping hands.
Email email@example.com for more information.
Read our blog – Visit our website to learn gardening tips and techniques, hear from a collection of guest bloggers, view recommended plant lists based on your wildscape zip code, and find the most up-to-date information on upcoming events and news.
Community Plantings – Members of the community have the opportunity to lend a helping hand in shaping the place where they live by planting a garden in an area of town that needs some sprucing up – whether that be a park or a roadway median. We are partnering with City agencies, CSA’s, schools, nurseries and other municipalities to plant Habitat Hero Demonstration Gardens that offer both environmental benefits and are aesthetically pleasing.
Awards – From August through October apply to become a Habitat Hero to receive recognition on your outstanding wildscape! Receive an all-weather garden sign to display, gift card to High Country Gardens and a Colorado Wildscapes book – plus the added bonus of bragging rights!
Help design and plant Habitat Hero Demonstration Gardens like this one featured outside the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery. We are always looking for volunteers to lend a hand!
Application Process – Receive the Habitat Hero Award
The applications will open on August 15th and close on October 15th. We will announce the Habitat Hero Awardees in our blog in November 2015.
Help us bring conservation home, one garden at a time and create a bird-friendly community! Your wildscape could be recognized as a Habitat Hero garden if it adheres to the principles above. It’s easy to apply, so start thinking about how you can show the greatest habitat diversity in providing food, shelter and water for wildlife. Also think about creative solutions your wildscape can provide such as water savings through the use of regionally adapted plants. As your gardens are in full bloom this summer, start snapping photos and consider what makes your wildscape special and how your garden may be a bone fide Habitat Hero garden. We look forward to hearing about your unique garden and all the wild friends you attract.
Display the all-weather Habitat Hero Garden sign to acknowledge your garden as an outstanding wildscape!