Improving Backyard Habitat Pays Off

CAMERON, TX–A local homeowner with a talent for landscaping and love of wildlife has garden beds that attract many varieties of hummingbirds and butterflies.

Many habitat enthusiasts have turned their yards and other garden spaces into enticing wildlife habitats.

Ronald McWilliams, a member of the Little River Basin Master Gardeners, has been working on his property for more than two years. He has designed a landscape placing plants, flower beds and trees where they can best take advantage of the hours of sun and shade. In addition to flower beds, he has installed a running waterfall, goldfish pond and bird baths as well as outdoor seating areas. He says he has seen many varieties of birds, including owls that like to play in the water.

Any habitat enthusiast can create a backyard habitat and learn the rewards of “gardening for wildlife.” And you can have your property certified as a wildlife habitat by providing the four basic elements that all wildlife need: food, water, cover and places to raise young. It must also employ sustainable gardening practices.

Habitat restoration is critical in urban and suburban settings where commercial and residential development encroaches on natural wildlife areas. In addition to providing for wildlife, certified habitat conserve our natural resources by reducing or eliminating the need for fertilizer, pesticides or irrigation water, which ultimately protects the air, soil and water throughout our communities. More information about how you can get your property certified is available from WindStar Wildlife Institute,

Creating habitats not only helps wildlife, it can help reduce global warming pollution and save money as well. Burning fossil fuels to heat and cool our homes and maintain our laws releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, which is the main greenhouse gas responsible for global warming.

Replacing lawns with strategically located trees and other native vegetation can insulate our homes from heat, cold and wind, reducing our heating and cooling needs and thus our carbon dioxide emissions. And, unlike, wildlife-friendly native plants don’t need constant maintenance from gas guzzling lawns mowers or fertilizers that required fossil fuels to manufacture.

On top of this, plants actually absorb carbon dioxide, helping to further reduce the amount in the atmosphere. All of this add up to increased wildlife habitat, reduction in excessive carbon dioxide that causes global warming and reduced energy bills for homeowners.

Habitats can produce other financial rewards for homeowners. Realtors will promote the certified status of homes for sale because they see it as an added selling feature. It’s an attractive element to many potential home buyers looking to share their landscapes with Mother Nature. Potential homeowners who are attracted to a house with a certified habitat are also more likely to maintain the habitat once they take ownership.

Each of us can make our own piece of the earth a healthy, green space that helps restore the ecological balance.”

You can certify your property in WindStar Wildlife Institute’s American Wildlife Habitat Registry. Every applicant receives a special membership to the WindStar Wildlife Institute, including subscriptions to WindStar’s Wildlife Gardening Weekly e-magazine and the American Wildlife Blog. If your property is approved as a wildlife habitat, you can purchase an outdoor sign designating your yard or garden as wildlife-friendly. Call 800-324-9044 for an application or email

WindStar Wildlife Institute also exclusively offers two home-study courses that certifiy individuals as a “Wildlife Habitat Naturalist” or “National Master Naturalist”.  Details are available at or by calling 800-324-9044.