Even though it is autumn, it won't be long before spring arrives. Many of you are likely taking inventory of your landscape and envisioning what next year might bring.

Even though it is autumn, it won't be long before spring arrives. Many of you are likely taking inventory of your landscape and envisioning what next year might bring.

As you do your fall cleanup and evaluate what you have and don't have in your garden, there may be a few more things to look for than you might think.

In concert with our green initiatives, the city is challenging residents to earn special designation from the National Wildlife Federation as a Certified Wildlife Habitat. If just 150 homes are certified, the city as a whole would become a Certified Wildlife Habitat.

The steps to certification are not difficult. The process causes you to look at your yard in a different manner, too. You'll be asked to identity your property type and size, food and water sources for wildlife, places for cover and to raise young, and your sustainable gardening practices. The application is available on the NWF Web site, www.nwf.org.

One of the application questions asks for a description of the property type. The options include urban, suburban and rural. Another question states, "Wildlife need a clean water source for drinking and bathing. How do you provide water for wildlife?" A few of the answers include birdbath, rain garden, spring and others.

Much of the application applies to sustainable garden practices, which fits with the city's initiatives toward sustainability. Three areas are covered: soil and water conservation, controlling exotic species and organic practices.

There are a variety of benefits as a resident to certify your home. A few might be:

Enjoyment of watching the types of wildlife that you attract.

Curb appeal.

Restoration of habitats damaged by residential or commercial construction.

Being eco-friendly.

Involvement in a community activity.

Awareness of environmental issues.

As a community, our benefits include:

National recognition.

Protecting wildlife.

Support and partnership opportunities with the NWF.

NWF certificate of exceptional merit.

Once your property has become habitat certified, you may purchase a sign that can be placed in your yard to let everyone know of your accomplishment.

For more information about certifying your home, visit www.dublin.oh.us or www.nwf.org.

Fred Hahn is Dublin's director of parks and open space.

Fred

Hahn