Yard Smart

yardsmart_smWhat is the YARD SMART Certification Program?

Printable Yard Smart Brochure

The Yard Smart program is a voluntary effort to help reduce synthetic pesticide use, conserve natural resources and make room for wildlife. This encourages yard care practices that are safe for children, pets and the environment. Some studies indicate human health concerns as well as environmental concerns associated with over-use of synthetic lawn chemicals. Each organization developed a certification that allies with their mission including Living Upstream’s “Chemical-Free Yard”, Ecology Action Center’s “Easy on the Earth” and JWP Audubon’s “Wildlife Yard”.

The Yard Smart Program aims to recognize local homeowners who use ecologically-sustainable practices in their yard care. Yard Smart Certification acknowledges that the homeowner realizes their lawn, garden, and landscaping decisions affect the health of the whole community.

Yard Smart Tours

Join our annual Yard Smart Garden Tours! The tour generally start in the morning, and involve tours of local yards in the Bloomington-Normal area that demonstrate the Yard Smart principles, including reduced use of pesticides, recycling and creating wildlife habitat. Some of the yards are examples of chemical-free maintenance or organic gardening practices. The event is free and open to everyone. If you are interested in joining the next tour, please call the Ecology Action Center at 309-454-3169.

Ecologically-Sustainable “Smart Yards”…

  • Are safe for children, adults, pets, wildlife, and all living things.
  • Conserve natural resources like water and fossil fuels.
  • Support native diversity in plants and wildlife.
  • Do not pollute the air, soil, or water.
  • Work with (not against) nature.
  • Avoid or minimize synthetic pesticides and high-nitrogen fertilizer.

Yard Smart Pledge

Yard Smart Pledge Form

“I pledge to use ecologically-smart practices in my yard.” I believe these sustainable yard practices will help keep our community healthy, naturally beautiful, and safe from harmful chemicals, unnecessary pollution and waste. I will also try to educate others in my community about the benefits of these practices.

Apply for Yard Smart Certification

The application process is simple! Homeowners first take a simple pledge that they are working toward an ecologically-sustainable yard. Next they can apply for any or all levels of Yard Smart Certification. Certified homeowners receive a yard award sign and certification sticker to display their Yard Smart designation.

Three Categories of Yard Smart Certification

Certification #1: The Chemical-Free Yard Application

Homeowners with Chemical-Free Yards avoid aesthetic use of synthetic pesticides, which can harm humans, wildlife and the environment. They also avoid use of synthetic ammonia fertilizers which can contaminate groundwater and kill beneficial micro-organisms in the soil. Pesticide use has also been linked with various forms of cancer and other serious health issues. This certification is sponsored by the organization Living Upstream.

Certification #2: The Easy on the Earth Yard Application

Homeowners with Easy on the Earth Yards use organic practices that reduce waste and conserve natural resources like water and fossil fuels. They minimize lawn areas and promote a healthy, diverse ecosystem in their yard. In the event synthetic pesticides are needed, homeowners practice the Integrated Pest Management Approach of using the least toxic pesticides as a last resort.

Certification #3: The Wildlife Habitat Yard Application

Homeowners with Wildlife Habitat Yards provide the basic requirements for wildlife to survive and flourish. They encourage a diverse wildlife population by landscaping with native plants, supplying adequate food and water, and providing a variety of shelter areas. This certification is sponsored by Wild Birds Unlimited.

Provided below are all of the Yard Smart fact sheets you will need to get started:

Organic Yard Products Wildlife Habitat
Yard Care Product Guide Mowers
Rain Gardens Common Sense Lawn Care
Rain Barrels Composting
Native Plants Gardening During a Drought
Native Nurseries


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