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Where To Get Your Pollinator Garden Certification

If you love to garden, you may want to consider steering your efforts towards supporting biodiversity and native wildlife with a certified pollinator garden. Getting your pollinator garden certified means you’re meeting certain standards that help support and protect pollinators like bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.

The reason to go for certification? Not only is it a “thumbs-up” to your efforts, but by meeting certain criteria you’ll be ensuring you are taking all the necessary steps to best support pollinators in your environment.  It’s a way to learn more about how to take care of your garden and its tiny visitors, ensuring they have what they need to flourish.

Now, if you’re wondering how to get your garden certified, there are plenty of paths to choose from. First we’ll talk about a few nation-wide programs that anyone can get involved in. Next we’ll list all the state-specific organizations we found that can get you certified with local groups and really offer great, specific advice for your region. At the end of the article we’ll walk you through what you’ll typically see on a pollinator garden application to help you make sure you’re ready to tick all the boxes.

*Please note all fees listed are subject to change. More detailed information and links to each program can be found below the table.

N/APollinator Partnershipunknown
N/ANational Garden Club (members only)unknown
N/AXerces Societyfree to apply / $66 sign
CaliforniaEastern Sierra Land Trustfree
ColoradoPeople & Pollinators Action Networkfree
ConnecticutHartford County Master Gardenersfree
GeorgiaMonarchs Across Georgia$15 certificate / $40 certificate & sign
MaineUMaine/UNH Master Gardner Programfree to submit / $30 for sign
MarylandUMaryland Frederick County Master Gardenersfree certification / $20-$30 for sign
MichiganMichigan United Conservation Clubunknown
MinnesotaNDSU Extension Master Gardner Programunknown
MontanaNDSU Extension Master Gardnerunknown
NebraskaNebraska Institute of Agriculture & Natural Resources$20 Processing Fee / $30 Sign
New HampshireUMaine/UNH Master Gardner Programfree to submit / $30 for sign
New YorkMonroe County Master Gardners / Cornell$20 Processing Fee / $30 Sign
North CarolinaAsheville GreenWorks$10 to apply / $35 sign
North DakotaNDSU Extension Master Gardnerunknown
PennsylvaniaPenn State Master Gardner Program$10 processing fee
South DakotaNDSU Extension Master Gardnerunknown
TexasTexas A&M Agrilife - Hill County Master Naturalist Chapterunknown
UtahUtah Dept. of Agriculture & Foodfree
VirginiaBlue Ridge Conservation$20 application fee
bird bath garden
Flower Garden via Deposit Photos

National Pollinator Garden Programs

Pollinator Partnership

Pollinator Partnership is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the health of pollinators, which are crucial for food production and ecosystems. Their mission encompasses conservation, education, and research efforts, envisioning a future where both people and pollinators thrive with sustainable and equitable systems for food production, ecosystems, and economies

If you are looking to learn all about pollinators and put that knowledge to good use, you may be interested in their Pollinator Steward Certification. This annual on-line course takes you through all the important topics, including how pollinators thrive, what their main threats are, and how to create pollinator-promoting landscapes.

Learn more here: Pollinator Steward Certification.

You can also use their resources to register a Bee Friendly Garden.

National Garden Club

Members of the National Garden Club can enter a pollinator garden certification program to register their garden as pollinator friendly. The NGC hopes this will help to incentivize members to better support birds, bees, butterflies and other native pollinators with intentionally selected planting.  

Xerces Society

The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation is an international non-profit organization committed to the protection of the natural world through the conservation of invertebrates and their habitats. Their work includes establishing and maintaining a diverse and inclusive community that collectively supports the conservation of invertebrates, which are vital for biodiversity and ecosystem health.

Their bring back the pollinators program has lots of great resources available for growing your own pollinator habitat. You can sign their pollinator protection pledge and register your garden. 

pollinator garden cali
Pollinator Garden | image by California Native Plant Society via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

State-Specific Pollinator Certification Programs

If you don’t see your state on this list, that means we couldn’t find a certification program available. However, almost all states will have some sort of pollinator garden community or resources on how and what to plant for your area. Local university master gardener programs or botanical gardens are a great place to look.


For those in Inyo and Mono Counties – Eastern Sierra Land Trust has an Eastside Pollinator Garden Project certification. You can sign up for a consultation, get help with choosing plants and receive some free plants to get started. 


At the People & Pollinators Action Network you can sign the pollinator safe pledge, get information about the right native plants for your location, get a pollinator habitat sign for your yard and become part of a local community with volunteer opportunities, newsletters and more. 


If you live in Hartford County – you can apply to certify your garden as a “pollen-aider” with the Hartford County master gardeners. Their printable application spells out all the criteria you’ll need to meet and is a good planner if you’re just getting started.


Monarchs Across Georgia offers a pollinator habitat certification. Since their main focus is on monarchs, having at least two native milkweed species is part of the requirement, as well as having flowering plants for three seasons. All criteria is listed on their website. 


Certify your garden as pollinator-friendly through the UMaine and UNH extension master gardener program. Information is available for all four of the specific areas they have requirements for, and for a small fee beginners can take an introductory course on creating a pollinator-friendly garden.


The Frederick County Maryland Master Gardeners through the University of Maryland Extension have an application for a certified pollinator friendly garden. Their form lists contacts for any questions you may have, and includes a page of web resources to help you get started.


The Michigan United Conservation Club offers a pollinator habitat designation program, however this is for those that have a slightly larger piece of property. The minimum size requirement is half an acre with an average 100-foot width. 


Minnesota residents can create a certified pollinator garden or bee lawn through the NDSU extension master gardener program. Submit an application with your garden size and the native plants you grow, including a plan for 3-season blooms.


Montana residents can create a certified pollinator garden or bee lawn through the NDSU extension master gardener program. Submit an application with your garden size and the native plants you grow, including a plan for 3-season blooms.

bee yellow flower
Image by mimikophoto via Deposit Photos


Help pollinators in Nebraska by getting your property certified as a pollinator habitat through the Nebraska Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Any garden in the state is eligible, and their application will outline their criteria for plant diversity, water, shelter, conservation practices and more.

New Hampshire

Certify your garden as pollinator-friendly through the UMaine and UNH extension master gardener program. Information is available for all four of the specific areas they have requirements for, and for a small fee beginners can take an introductory course of creating a pollinator-friendly garden.

Bagley Pond Perennials is joining the cause in promoting pollinators by offering NH Pollinator Garden Certification Kits. These include plants, design templates and planting instructions that meet the requirements for NH pollinator garden certification. A great beginners template!

New York

Residents of Monroe county have the opportunity to certify their property as pollinator-friendly through the Monroe County master gardeners of Cornell Cooperative Extension.

North Carolina

Residents of western North Carolina can certify their garden as a pollinator habitat through Asheville GreenWorks. Once your garden meets their criteria you can send in an application.

North Dakota

North Dakota residents can create a certified pollinator garden or bee lawn through the NDSU extension master gardener program. Submit an application with your garden size and the native plants you grow, including a plan for 3-season blooms. You can even schedule a tour at a nearby pollinator teaching garden to get ideas and speak with an expert. 


The Penn State master gardener program can certify your yard as pollinator friendly. Any Pennsylvania resident can apply, and their website has all the information on required criteria. 

South Dakota

South Dakota residents can create a certified pollinator garden or bee lawn through the NDSU extension master gardener program. Submit an application with your garden size and the native plants you grow, including a plan for 3-season blooms.


Residents of Hill County can join the pollinator garden assistance and recognition program and get a certificate for their garden through the Hill County master naturalist chapter of Texas A&M Agrilife Extension. You can even request a consultation from a volunteer to help plan your garden and apply for recognition.


The Utah Department of Agriculture and Food may help you build your pollinator garden! You can apply online if you have a minimum of 900 square feet of space to devote to the project. Applications are only accepted during a certain time period so keep an eye on the calendar. If selected you will be awarded a habitat kit and planting guides. 


Residents of central Virginia can apply to register their space as a certified pollinator habitat through Blue Ridge Conservation. Their application process will walk you through their specific criteria for providing food, water and shelter for pollinators.

Liatris spicata flowers in the summer garden
Flowers in a summer garden | image by PantherMediaSeller via Deposit Photos

What Is Required for a Certified Pollinator-Friendly Garden?

While the specific criteria will differ between organizations, many of the requirements are the same. Below we’ll take a look at the main categories you can expect to see on a pollinator certification application.


Most applications will ask for your home address and the address of your garden. You might have to indicate what type of property you have (suburban, farm, etc), how much of your yard is pollinator garden space and other details. 

In some cases the organization will be sending someone out to see your garden in person, but that isn’t always the case. Many organizations like to create local maps of all the certified gardens and will ask if you will allow them to print your location, or if you would allow it to be open to the public.

Knowing those in your area that also have certified gardens can help to create community with like-minded conservationists. You can visit other certified habitats, share tips and ideas, or be open to interested parties in the community that want to learn from you. However if that isn’t your speed, you can usually opt-out of this.

Providing Food

There will be a large section about which plants you have that will provide food sources to pollinators. Each application will specify how many plants of each type you will need. Typically you need plants that are considered host-species for caterpillars, as well as pollen/nectar producing plants.

These plants must be native to your geographic location, and most applications will have a list of the plants they accept. You will also need to have plants that provide food during spring, summer and fall. There may be separate sections for each season with a list of acceptable plants. This ensures your pollinators are supported throughout the year. 

Providing Water

A source of fresh water is usually also a requirement for pollinator habitat. It will probably need to be located within about 200 feet of your plants, and must provide a continuous supply. Spring ponds or small creeks fed by storm runoff that will dry out at certain times of year don’t qualify. What does? Bird baths, ponds, natural springs, year-round running streams or any other shallow pool you can create and keep filled. 


While you don’t need to worry about flowering plants during the winter, you do have to focus on shelter. Pollinators need places to nest and shelter during the cold months. This can include man-made items like bee boxes or pre-drilled wood holes. Other common shelters that qualify are bare spaces of ground, dead wood, rock piles or rock walls, and garden spaces that are left alone until spring (not cut down or cleaned up). 


Besides providing the things pollinators need, part of the certification will likely focus on protecting pollinators from harm. Pesticides and herbicides fall into this category. Some applications have strict rules about when you can and can’t use pesticides/herbicides, while others will state you are not allowed to use them under any circumstances.

Reducing invasive plants is also important to support the native species that your local pollinators depend on. Invasive plants often spread quickly, crowding out native species and reducing plant diversity. Therefore on the application you will probably have to state that you remove invasive plants from your property and pledge to not buy invasive ornamentals. 

Depending on the application you may also have to put some notes in about how you manage the garden, such as soil testing, weeding, mowing, watering and fertilizing. 


Sometimes the certification is free, but typically there will be a small processing fee, about $10 – $20. Some organizations offer a certified sign to put up in your garden. Signs are sold separately to those that qualify, and usually run between $30 – $60.


You may need to include a photograph or two, or a sketch of your layout, and that’s it! It may sound a bit overwhelming at first, but with a little planning it’s quite simple to create a beautiful pollinator habitat. Print out an application and use the website resources to see exactly what you’ll need and take your time creating a garden to be proud of. 

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