Skip to Content
bumblebee and penstemon

How A Denver Neighborhood Achieved Habitat Hero Certification From Audubon Rockies

At High Country Gardens, we believe that sustainability begins in your backyard. Along with our friends at Audubon Rockies, we’re excited to share this story of the incredible benefits that result when a group of people – a whole neighborhood, in fact – have the same idea. 

Pam Marquez is a Denver native who loves to garden. She and her neighbors took on an ambitious project that transformed her neighborhood into a resilient, beautiful, and waterwise bird habitat. 

Read on to learn more about the process and the plants that made it possible!

Habitat Hero Certification

Before the transformation, Pam’s neighborhood was similar to most in the Denver area– and most of the country– about 90% grass. “Over the years I’ve been adding native plants, and last year I asked my neighbors to start doing the same.” Said Pam. 

Her goal? To achieve Habitat Hero Certification for the whole block. While the neighborhood already had shrubs, each home would need to add native plants to their yard - native plants are essential for habitat. Pam spent time reaching out to all of her neighbors, one by one. “Everyone was on board with the idea of attracting birds and butterflies.”

Together, Pam and her neighbors did research and learned from experts about which plants are best for wildlife, birds, and moths. They attended plant sales, plant swaps, and Pam even gifted many plants from her own garden. She was thoughtful in her plant selection: “I made sure to include plants with great flowers that were easy to care for and were likely to attract some of the more showy pollinators.” 


Habitat Hero Neighborhood Plant List

They focused on plants that are easy to grow, beneficial to wildlife, and require little water.

Shop These Native Plants For Habitat

Together We Can Improve The Earth, One Garden At A Time

Plant by plant, garden by garden, the planting continues. In their first year, they added new garden beds, held work days, swapped plants, and transplanted. They built gardens, and friendships too. “I’ve had such great conversations with my neighbors this summer about the hummingbirds we’ve seen. When our evening primroses bloom this year, I hope we’ll get to chat about hawkmoths and other night pollinators.”

Pam and her neighbors took on a long-term project together, and it requires perseverance. “With so few examples of alternative lawns out, it’s hard to envision a different aesthetic.” Making changes on a neighborhood level means understanding and balancing many different perspectives on what a beautiful, sustainable yard looks like. 

Fortunately, this community had shared values that helped them make progress - including making their yards attractive to wildlife. They continue to make plans for improving their garden season by season. Plus, they aren’t just making their neighborhood better for birds and pollinators - they’re making it better for people too. 

“An unexpected benefit of this effort is that I feel like our block is a better place to live, even before we’ve made any real native planting inroads. I know all of my neighbors now and I feel much more connected than I have in a long time.”


Tips For Expanding Habitat Gardens On A Large Scale

  1. Pam will choose 2 or 3 perennials to mass plant at every house. That will add cohesion to the neighborhood planting aesthetic, and also has the benefit of connecting habitat, making it better for birds, bees, and butterflies to easily travel from plant to plant.
  2. Pam will rent a sod cutter to make even more progress in removing the existing lawn and expanding flower beds.

For more details, visit Audubon Rockies to read the full article by Pam Marquez: A Neighborhood Garden