To qualify your site as a certified wildlife retreat, the National Wildlife Federation requires:
■ Food. Planting native flowers, herbs, shrubs and trees is the easiest way to provide foliage, nectar, pollen, berries, seeds and nuts.
■ Water. This includes natural ponds, lakes, rivers, springs, oceans and wetlands, as well as rain ga rdens, birdbaths and puddling areas for butterflies. Running water is especially attractive to wildlife.
■ Cover/places to raise young. Shrubs, thickets and brush piles provide hiding places, and dead trees make dandy homes for all sorts of wildlife. Logs, rocks, birdhouses and bat boxes work, too.
■ Sustainable gardening practices. This includes mulching, composting, using natural fertilizers, reducing traditional grass lawn areas and using rain barrels.
“The biggest impediment to certification is people thinking their yard isn’t good enough,” naturalist David Mizejewski says. “We don’t want people to be intimidated. We want people to participate.”