Go For The Platinum, Gold or Silver

By Linda Wiggen Kraft
Healthy Planet Green & Growing Editor

If birds and wildlife could give medals for urban and suburban garden habitat that supports and nourishes them, they might give platinum, gold or silver. Fortunately the St. Louis Audubon Society takes care of doing just that by awarding certificates for life enhancing landscapes that provide homes, shelter and food for the creatures that live in and visit our gardens.

The St. Louis Audubon Society recognizes that the greatest potential for restoring desperately needed habitat is in urban and suburban gardens and landscapes. Even the smallest city garden can be a place that supports our declining wildlife. Together small, medium and large city and suburban gardens that have native plants, trees and thriving soils can provide the collective habitats needed.

To address the need for native habitat in our own landscapes, the Bring Conservation Home program was developed. It helps homeowners transition their landscapes into life sustaining environments by providing on-site advice on ways to create and maintain a healthy habitat for birds, native wildlife and people. There is a process to receive this help along with being awarded a silver, gold or platinum certificate for the home or business habitats meeting the criteria. First an application is filled out and submitted along with a fee for a first visit and report, and then a follow up certification visit. The on-site assessment includes what aggressive weeds are present, percentage of property that is naturescaped with native plants, wildlife stewardship practices, stormwater management and involvement in organizations that promote native habitat restoration.

There may be changes needed in the landscape to get a silver, gold or platinum certificate. Once the suggested changes are made a certification visit will take place. The landscapes that are given certificates get a sign to be put in the garden.

A friend of mine in University City recently received a Platinum Certificate for her garden through the Bring Conservation Home program. She is very proud because only eleven gardens have received the platinum honor in the St. Louis region. Over 50% of her property has native plants, shrubs and trees. She has no aggressive weeds, has both shade and sun wildlife gardens, a rain garden and bird bath and no chemical pesticide or fertilizer use. She also volunteers to educate others on the importance of these habitats in urban and suburban landscapes.

A platinum certificate sign is proudly displayed in my friend’s front yard. She has received congratulations and thanks from friends and neighbors. The many birds, insects and other wildlife that live or visit her property are also thanking her.

For more information about the St. Louis Audubon Bring Conservation Home program visit www.stlouisaudubon.org or call 314 599-7390. Linda Wiggen Kraft is a landscape designer who creates holistic and organic gardens. She is also a mandala artist and workshop leader. Visit her blog: CreativityForTheSoul.com/blog or on her website: CreativityForTheSoul.com. Call her at (314) 504-4266. Visit her booth at the Healthy Planet Expo, Sept. 25.