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Image by Steve Wiesner

Create a Backyard

Wildlife  Habitat

Eco–Wild Club

We have teamed up with Franklin Pest Solutions company to create a unique program that supports urban gardeners in their efforts to create natural backyard habitats. Together we hope to make our city a healthier place for wildlife and us all.


Join us and make your space a wildlife friendly zone.

Eco-Wild Habitat Certification Benefits:

Certify a space as a garden for wildlife and receive the following benefits!


  • Personalized certificate

  • A one-year membership in our Washington Park Zoo Eco-Wild Club

  • A special Zoo gift

Eco-Wild Habitat Certification Requirements:

There is no fee to submit a request for certification.   Our goal is to confirm your commitment by ensuring that your habitat includes the essential safe haven elements:  

  • Food

  • Water

  • Shelter

  • Places to Raise Young  

  • Sustainable Practices


You must have the intent to keep the garden maintained for at least one year.

Applicants must pledge to the following wildlife-friendly practices:

  • Keep invasive, exotic plants under control.

  • Minimize or eliminate the use of chemical pesticides and herbicides.

  • Minimize use of motorized landscaping equipment.

  • Decrease any bird hazards posed by reflective glass, outdoor lighting, and inappropriate feeder or nest box placement


The ultimate reward will be shown in the short amount of time when a habitat garden will be filled with life, activity and color of bees, birds, butterflies, and other wildlife! 

Attracting wildlife to the backyard is easy by providing what they need:

Habitat is made up of four factors: 1) food, 2) water, 3) shelter and 4) space. Each factor is essential for a good habitat and varies somewhat by the species of wildlife and the season. To ensure the greatest variety of wildlife species, provide a yard with the largest variety of food, shelter, and cover by providing different types of plants, feeders, and houses.



Encourage a natural diversity of wildlife to ensure a healthy ecosystem. Best practices: Use natural food sources; native fruiting trees and shrubs best meet the needs of migrating birds.


Approximately 80 different species of blooming perennials, trees, and shrubs offer nectar, pollen, berries, nuts, and seeds as a food source for pollinators and other wildlife. More than 50 percent of these plants are native to North America and Indiana specifically. Many of the insects these plants support are also a food source for birds.


Maintaining bird feeders is an option:

Do not feed animals directly or provide them with human food.  (at least 2)


Nearby pools and birdbaths provide wildlife with water for drinking and bathing, and a showcase water feature can be a focal point within the garden.  ( at least 1)



Provide shelter from the weather and predators. The best shelters are naturally occurring. Trees and shrubs such as elderberry, maple, hawthorn, and juniper provide wildlife with shelter from the elements and concealment from predators. Grasses and perennials are clustered to provide additional cover. You may also create brush piles or hang houses created for birds, bats, butterflies, and even bugs. (at least 2)

Places to Raise Young

Encourage courtship behavior and mating, as well as the rearing of their young. The garden includes host plants for the caterpillars of butterflies and moths. Without host plants, these pollinators can’t complete their life cycle. Butterfly milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa), is a host plant for monarch butterfly caterpillars and Gambel oak (Quercus gambelli) supports the caterpillars of the state. Trees and shrubs also provide nesting places for birds and bat houses placed around the yard offer a home to local bats. (at least 2)



How you manage your garden or landscape can have an effect on the health of the soil, air, water, and habitat for wildlife, as well as for people. When a garden is designed to represent plantings from the local ecosystems.  The chosen plants are adapting to the ecosystem, so they can thrive in the soil and moisture conditions, which means they won't require much supplemental watering or chemicals to thrive.

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