Garden for Wildlife

45 Years of Garden for Wildlife

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Gardening with native plants brings back butterflies, birds, and bees to your area, while also adding calm to your life. Bring the beauty of nature home by creating a haven for you and for wildlife.

Standing seven million people strong, Garden for Wildlife™ is America’s largest, longest-running movement dedicated to helping local wildlife and wild spaces.

Since 1973, Garden for Wildlife has been educating and empowering people to turn their own small pieces of Earth into thriving habitats for birds, bees, butterflies, and other wildlife. In doing so, people across North America are making a difference in their cities, towns, and neighborhoods—all while deepening their connections to the natural world.

Founded on the belief that everyone can enjoy and protect wildlife where they live, work, learn, play, and worship, the National Wildlife Federation’s Garden for Wildlife programs provide simple steps and resources to create beautiful spaces that make a big impact on local and migratory species, from small window boxes to vast habitat corridors.

Make a positive impact.

A garden for wildlife can be a garden of any size: container-raised planter, or right in the ground. No matter what size space you have to work with, your garden will make an impact. Native flowers and plants not only provide habitat for declining wildlife but help common species stay common.

Together, we’re transforming the country, one garden at a time.

Our native plant collections are currently available for the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, and Midwest regions. Our goal is to provide predictable profit opportunities to independent growers across the country so we can meet market demand and offer native plants to everyone. Every purchase helps our mission.

Native plants are the core of the wildlife habitat garden.

It all begins with plants. Natural landscapes made up of native wildflowers, shrubs, trees, and other native plants provide habitat for declining wildlife.

Wildlife gardens connect families, kids, and communities.

In addition to helping wildlife, Garden for Wildlife activities create healthy, beautiful spaces where people live.


Celebrating 45 years in 2018, Garden for Wildlife has grown to encompass more than 3.5 million wildlife-friendly acres of backyards, gardens, fields, and community spaces across the United States. Scroll through the timeline to learn about the movement’s impact through the years.

Native plants have formed symbiotic relationships with native wildlife over thousands of years, and therefore offer the most sustainable habitat. A plant is considered native if it has occurred naturally in a particular region, ecosystem, or habitat without human introduction.

Exotic plants that evolved in other parts of the world or were cultivated by humans into forms that don’t exist in nature do not support wildlife as well as native plants. Occasionally, they can even escape into the wild and become invasive exotics that destroy natural habitats.

Native plants help the environment the most when planted in places that match their growing requirements. They will thrive in the soils, moisture, and weather of your region. That means less supplemental watering, which can be wasteful, and pest problems that require toxic chemicals. Native plants also assist in managing rainwater runoff and maintaining healthy soil as their root systems are deep and keep soil from being compacted.

Native Plant Finder

Bring your garden to life! Enter your zip code to discover the best native plants, attract butterflies and moths, and support birds and other fauna. Native Plant Finder is an indispensable tool, based on the research of Dr. Douglas Tallamy of the University of Delaware and in partnership with the United States Forest Service.

Check out the presentation by Dr. Doug Tallamy, Nature’s Best Hope, and be inspired by his call to action that supports our Garden for Wildlife vision: To revolutionize the way people garden and landscape to benefit wildlife and communities.