Gardening for Water and Wildlife

Make your yard come alive! When you garden for water and wildlife, your yard could become home to 15 migratory birds, 20 native plant species, and 5 kinds of butterflies. It’s easy and we can help.

The Gardening for Water and Wildlife program conducted through a partnership between Delaware Nature Society and the National Wildlife Federation, provides official recognition for properties that meet five criteria necessary for wildlife:  food, water, cover, places for wildlife to raise young, and wildlife-friendly landscaping practices.  These properties can get certified as Certified Wildlife Habitats.


Why Gardening for Water and Wildlife is Needed

Butterflies, birds, and other wildlife are in decline in part due to habitat loss and pesticides.

Running a lawnmower for emits 11 times more pollution than a new car. (EPA 2014)

Household lawns cover 40 million acres – more than any commercial crop – and account for 10 times more herbicide per acre than agribusiness.


How to Create a Certified Wildlife Habitat

Start with these easy steps:

  1. Provide Food: native plants with nectar, fruits, and seeds
  2. Supply Water: water gardens, bird baths, and puddles for drinking and bathing
  3. Create Cover: rock piles and evergreens give protection from weather, predators, and people
  4. Provide Baby Animal Spaces: trees and shrubs are great protection to animals raising their young
  5. Garden Sustainably: reduce lawn chemicals and use a rain barrel

Healthy Water & Wildlife Checklist (PDF) »

Support hummingbirds like this one by Gardening for Water and WildlfeGardening Help

Water Conservation Tips


Certify Your Land

You’ve created a garden with Gardening for Water and Wildlife practices. Now spread the word and help your community become a Certified Wildlife Community by making your land a Certified Wildlife Habitat or making your school’s land a Schoolyard Habitat®!

Just follow these simple steps:

1. Print

Print out and complete the application form:
Certification Application (PDF)

2. Send

Send the completed application form and payment to us. See form for details.

3. Visit

To request a free site visit for advice from a trained Habitat Steward (Delaware residents only), check the box on the application form.


Questions? We’re happy to help you!

Northern Delaware

Lori Athey
Habitat Outreach Coordinator
Ashland Nature Center
Email Lori
302.239.2334 ext: 142

Southern Delaware

Alice Mohrman
Education Coordinator
Abbott’s Mill Nature Center
Email Alice
302.422.0847 ext: 100


Help Others Garden for Water and Wildlife

Do you love your habitat garden? Do you want to help others use Gardening for Water and Wildlife practices? Complete our 24 hour Habitat Steward Training course and share your passion with homeowners, schools, and local communities.

Become a Habitat Steward


Make Your Community a Community Wildlife Habitat™

Thanks to so many residents Gardening for Water and Wildlife and making their lands Certified Wildlife Habitats, Slaughter Beach has become a Community Wildlife HabitatNeighborhoods and communities can become certified as National Wildlife Federation Community Wildlife Habitats when enough private yards and lands use Gardening for Water and Wildlife practices and become Certified Wildlife Habitats. Delaware has already created three Wildlife Habitat Communities: Townsend, Newark, and Slaughter Beach!

Now the Red Clay Valley Scenic Byway is in the process of becoming a National Wildlife Federation Certified Habitat Community! We need everybody who owns a home, business, or other land within the byway to apply for Certified Wildlife Habitat status in order to reach our goal. Watch our FaceBook page and other local media for information about upcoming events and activities. This project is a partnership with Delaware Nature Society, National Wildlife Federation, Mt. Cuba Center, Wild Birds Unlimited in Hockessin, and Delaware State Parks’ Auburn Heights Preserve.

Garden for Wildlife at your School (PDF) » Red Clay Valley Scenic Byway »

National Wildlife Federation Logo Delmarva Exelon Power Logo Suez Water Logo

Delaware Nature Society partners with the National Wildlife Federation to bring the Certified Wildlife Habitat™ program to Delaware. The Certified Wildlife Habitat program at Delaware Nature Society is supported in part by Delmarva Power and SUEZ in Delaware.