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NWF: Gardening Can Help Wildlife in Florida

May 25, 2012

MELBOURNE, Fla. – It's likely many Floridians will choose to play in the dirt a little bit over the Memorial Day weekend - and there's a way to use your green thumb to breathe more 'life' into native wildlife, no matter how small your yard or garden.

May is "Garden for Wildlife Month," and the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) is reminding people of steps they can take to invite birds, butterflies and other native animals to enjoy the space. In Melbourne, Betsy Franz has had an NWF Certified Wildlife Habitat yard for more than 30 years.

"People don't think that they play a huge role in protecting that wildlife - it's so easy to blame the builders or the politicians."

Planting certain plants and flowers, providing fresh water, and avoiding the use of harsh chemicals can provide a welcoming habitat for wildlife. The NWF Certified Wildlife Habitat program includes specifics on how to make yards more wildlife-friendly. So far, 150,000 people have participated in the program.

Franz says she's noticed a huge difference in her yard over the years, and now sees animals she only dreamed of seeing in her garden years ago.

"Being able to get a hummingbird in my yard, and having foxes come into my yard, and bobcats – and it's just so amazing to feel like I had some control over that."

For NWF certification, gardeners must also provide safe places in their yards for animals to raise their young. The guidelines are online at

Stephanie Carroll Carson, Public News Service - FL