Native Plant Habitat Certification

This program exists to recognize the importance of planting, nurturing and protecting native plants in your landscape. With your work, you demonstrate that even a small residential property can help sustain the native ecosystem—its plants, wildlife, water, soil, and air—a vital contribution to a world that has lost so much. Creating and preserving a native plant habitat is always a work in progress: it will have its ongoing tasks and its ongoing and unfolding pleasures. We hope to help you appreciate and enjoy the process.

Once your application is completed, a member of the certification committee will arrange to visit you on your property as part of the certification process. Having a guide to help you explore the plants, site conditions, (and sometimes the wildlife!) on your property can be a fun and inspiring way to see it with new eyes.

Note: If you are actively cultivating any Category 1 or 2 invasive plants, as listed by the Georgia Exotic Plant Pest Council: http://www.gaeppc.org/list/, GNPS will not certify your site. Some of the more common plants on this list are: privet (Ligustrum), kudzu, Chinese wisteria, Japanese honeysuckle, mimosa (Albizia julibrissin), English ivy, autumn olive (Elaeagnus), and chinaberry (Melia azedarach). We can help you identify these and others during our site visit, but if you do not know what they are, chances are you are not trying to grow them.

There are two certification levels, Silver and Gold (see below for details). Both have a certification program fee of $30, paid before you are given a link to the online application form. You must be a member of GNPS to participate; if you are interested in certification and are not yet a member, all you need to do is join! 

Upon certification, you will receive a sign designating your certified level: Gold or Silver. Be sure to ask about the custom stakes coordinated to match your sign and securely mount into your garden (extra fee for stake). We would welcome a photo showing off the native plants in your garden. Your photo will join others on the website to help inspire future applicants.

To summarize, it is a four-step process to become certified:

  1. Pay application fee,
  2. Receive a link to an application form,
  3. Submit the form, and
  4. Work with the certification team when they contact you.

Start the process with step 1 by paying the application fee. Just press the big button below!

Thank you for your interest in the GNPS Habitat Certification program!

 

 

Certification Requirements

Silver

  • 1/3 of the entire property grounds in native plants representing 4 (four) or more categories listed below. There must be a minimum of 3 species in each of the four categories.
  • No cultivated Category 1-2 invasive plants and invasive plants must be in the process of being actively eradicated.
  • 4 out of 8 sustainable gardening practices.
  • In general, the habitat should be established for at least a year before being certified.

Gold

  • 2/3 of the entire property grounds in native plants representing 4 (four) or more categories listed below. There must be a minimum of 3 species in each of the four categories.
  • No cultivated Category 1-3 invasive plants and invasive plants must be in the process of being actively eradicated.
  • 4 out of 8 sustainable gardening practices.
  • In general, the habitat should be established for at least a year before being certified.
Native Plant Categories
  •  trees, shrubs, perennials, annuals, vines, ferns/mosses/lichens, grasses/sedges, water/bog plants.
Sustainable Gardening Practices
  • Have features that support wildlife
  • Practice composting
  • Avoid using herbicides and pesticides
  • Capture and use rainwater
  • Use soaker hoses
  • Minimize lawn areas
  • Mulch or allow leaves to remain
  • Reduce use of fossil-fuel-powered lawn equipment

Have questions?

If you still have any questions about the program, email us at habitatcertification@gnps.org. We’d love to hear from you!

News & Events

Lakeside Habitat

In Kennesaw, the Bender family has a home that overlooks a lake. Gayle has added native plants to the wooded section of the property. A neighborhood path winds between the lake and the woods where the GNPS sign will educate hikers that they plants they see are native....

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A Collection of Native Plants

In Marietta, Robin Allen's home provides a woodland paradise and a sunny botanical garden. There's an abundance of native plants too numerous to list completely. Native woodland plants found in the back yard include trilliums (Trillium catesbaei, Trillium cuneatum,...

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Gardening in Athens

Like many other people who started home projects during the quarantine of 2020, Cathy Payne began gardening with native plants on her 3/4 acre lot in Athens. By the summer of 2021, the sun perennials were quite showy. The front yard is landscaped with purple...

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Gainesville Countryside

Jill Gorman grows native plants from seed. She also hosts a garden workshop in the spring where she gives away some of her seedlings. The rest of the seedlings are planted on three acres near Gainesville where the Gormans have created a habitat for many pollinators...

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Powder Springs Natural Garden

Driving on the shared road to Jeff Jernigan's property in Powder Springs, you see the difference in landscaping. On the left, the neighbor has cleared their property of native plants and landscaped with lawn and introduced plants. On the right is Jeff's lot which he...

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