Backyard Habitat Certification Program
I don’t know anything plants. I would like to – but I don’t. So far, I’ve killed every living thing that I have ever fed or watered (fish, trees, plants, salamanders etc) except for Dexter the Dog. Even the “Money Trees” I bought to clean my indoor air, are headed to the grave.
But the curb appeal of this house is important because its really the only usable outdoor space. There is a lot of competing information out there for a newbie to the plant world. I don’t know enough about any plants to then take the next step and choose which ones are native or drought tolerant.
To my surprise I walked through an Audubon Society Portland booth at the Street of Dreams and found out that they support the Columbia Land Trust to certify backyards to be more animal friendly. For $25.00 Gaylen came out to my house, checked out its orientation, the existing vegetation and did research on what kind of birds swing through this area. She spent an hour with me and then built the below report. As soon as I am able to make the below changes I’ll get a sign to put in my front yard.
Here is the link for more information. http://audubonportland.org/backyardwildlife/backyardhabitat
Below is a copy of the report I was given.
Prepared by: Gaylen Beatty
SITE VISIT REPORT
Portland, OR 97219
I. Site Information
Property Area: 7,000 square feet.
Total Available Yard Area: approximately 5,000 square feet. Excluding the house, driveway and deck
Water forms: no naturally occurring water forms.
Watershed: Fanno Subwatershed: Vermont
II. Current Conditions
Native plants existing: Examples of natives include sword fern and an alder tree
Canopy levels present: 2 (spread out)
Invasive weeds present: Vinca, English ivy, Robert’s geranium and English holly
Wildlife observed: Birds
Wildlife stewardship: No cats. Bird feeders.
Stormwater management Downspouts are disconnected.
III. Certification Objectives for SILVER level.
Plan for Silver certification:
- Naturescape 5% of available yard area (15% for Gold Certification) with native plants including at least 3 out of 6 canopy levels + native plants that provide food for wildlife (nectar + berries).
- Install a wild life water feature or put up an avian nest box
- Purchase native plants to provide food for wildlife. Those plants that could include: Red-osier dogwood, snowberry, evergreen huckleberry and oregon grape.
Possible areas to Naturescape:
Front area below deck: With existing Oregon grape, continue to plant some tall and creeping Oregon grape and Red-osier dogwood and salmon berry shrubs. Ground cover suggestions include bleeding heart, waterleaf and fringecup.
Side Fence: swordfern and salmonberry/douglas spirea shrubs
Front yard: Native grasses for stormwater management and Mock orange shrub
Side driveway: mix of wildflowers and yarrow
Noxious weed removal: For all noxious weeds on property (English ivy and holly, Robert’s geranium, blackberry and vinca, it can all be removed by hand or digging up roots. Your infestation is very light and can be removed easily.
IV. Project Schedule:
- Select one section at a time for removal of weeds and planting natives. Front area or backyard are good first suggestions.
- Possibly hire a landscape designer who can suggest plants for front area with its high visibility and water movement
- Order plants from the Backyard Habitat native plant sales.
- Plant in the fall to take advantage of fall/winter rains.
- Mulch beds in fall or spring for water retention, soil amendment + weed suppression.
- Water plants regularly for the first 2-3 years in the hot part of the summer.
- Contact Gaylen when ready for certification.
V. Resources Recommended:
- For acquiring plants: take advantage of native plant sales through the Backyard Habitat Program or visit local native plant nurseries: Bosky Dell, Livingscape or One Green World. Or get a permit from the Forest Service and collect native plants from the wild.
- Watch for the Backyard Habitat monthly e-newsletter for plant sale announcements and other special event Pro-Grow Mixes and Materials for discounted Soil Amendments.
- PLANTING NOTES:
Vegetation provides multiple functions throughout the Portland’s watersheds. Vegetation intercepts and stores rainwater, reducing and improving the quality of stormwater runoff. Trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants provide cover, nesting, roosting, and food sources for wildlife species. Vegetation also provides important migration pathways between upland habitat areas, along streams and between upland habitats and streams. Different types of vegetation provide different habitat types, some of which are rare in Portland.
- To better attract birds and other wildlife: plant in naturally occurring plant groups and at least three of each plant. Five is better in terms of creating habitat. Include natives that provide food (nectar + berries) for wildlife.
- Plant ratio: 1/3 Evergreen, 1/3 Deciduous. 1/3 Perennial.
- See the Native Plant poster in the blue information packet for a good list with photos of Willamette Valley natives that contribute to the 6 canopy levels.
- For the native plant growing locations, planting conditions and what wildlife is attracted to review the plant lists in the native plant sources in the blue packet.
- Mulch planting beds in fall for water retention, soil amendment & weed suppression.
- Pro-Grow Mixes and Materials for discounted soil amendments. To get wholesale prices tell them you are part of the Backyard Habitat Certification program.
- Pro-Grow: (503) 682-3500, www.pro-gromixes.com.
- Great book on creating backyard habitat & why: Douglas W. Tallamy, Bringing Nature Home.
As a Backyard Habitat participant you can buy Bringing Nature Home at a lower cost by buying directly from Timber Press. Here’s how: http://timberpress.com/silverbackyard
- Slope suggestions: visit Bosky Dell’s website for erosion control. Choose plants with a diversity of root depths for the back sloped area.