Certified Native Plant, Garden and Landscape

Welcome to the Certified Native Plant Garden & Landscape program! Creating a native plant garden or landscape is a process and applications are invited for properties at all stages of that process. Certification lasts for three years and recertification is encouraged.

The program rewards the use Colorado native plants and educates communities that native plants are the basis of healthy ecosystems and habitat. By placing a Certified Native Plant Garden & Landscape sign on your property, you signal the importance of Colorado native plants to all who see it, and model how we all can support and restore healthy ecosystems.


Native plant gardens and landscapes achieve myriad benefits with no (or minimal) use of inputs, such as water, fertilizer, amendments and pesticides.

A native plant is one that originally occurs within a region as a result of natural processes rather than human intervention (also called a straight species).

A cultivar (cultivated variety) is a plant that has been bred through cloning or hybridization to replicate desirable qualities, such as disease resistance, bloom color, size or shape or longer bloom time.

A nativar (cultivated native variety) can be a hybrid of two or more plants selected to breed or a clone of one particularly desirable wild plant.

Noxious and invasive weeds crowd out native species, reduce biodiversity and may not attract native pollinators. Be familiar with the Colorado Noxious Weeds list

Tip: If your plant name includes a portion in single quotation marks, it is a cultivar or nativar not a straight species native plant. An example would be Amelanchier alnifolia 'Regent'. If your plant name includes TM or (Registered) or Patent/Patent pending, it is not a straight species native plant.


  1. Individuals, groups, or organizations can apply year-round for the Certified Native Plant Garden & Landscape program.
  2. To apply, submit this application and pay the program fee, which includes the cost for a certification sign. Your entries will be saved as you work so you can start and return to this application.
  3. Applications will be reviewed by expert volunteers with the Colorado Native Plant Society and certification awarded at the Certified, Silver, Gold, and Platinum levels.
  4. Applicants receive a 5"x10", full color, weather-proof, aluminum Colorado Native Plant Garden & Landscape sign to post on their property.
  5. Certification lasts for 3 years and recertification is encouraged! Use this application form to request certification or recertification.

Get Started!

A site visit by CoNPS is optional on privately owned properties that are not open to the public, but may be required for publicy owned properties that are open to the public.
Examples include homeowner's associations or publicly owned spaces.
The program assesses only the portion of the property that is dedicated to Colorado native plants.

Tell the Story!

Click or drag a file to this area to upload.
Describe your garden or landscape and the story of how it began, how it has developed, and plans for its future. Tell us the characteristics of the property, such as elevation, soil type, precipitation, sun and wind exposure, drainage rate and prevalence of invasive plants. How did those conditions shape plant selection, mulch, and irrigation decisions?Did you amend the soil? Do you use fertilizer? Describe any themes to the planted areas, such as cactus, dryland, wetland, etc. Discuss the noxious or invasive weeds on the property and your approach to eradicating them.
Click or drag files to this area to upload. You can upload up to 20 files.
Document your property visually by uploading photos and/or videos. Include broad-view images as well as those focusing on particular areas.

Get Specific!

Click or drag a file to this area to upload.
Upload a list of the Colorado native plants on the property. Include the scientific and common names and group the plants by into the four main categories: woody trees and shrubs, grasses and forbs.
Two benchmarks for the percentage of native plants necessary to sustain invertebrate populations and the food webs that rely on them are 66% (Two Thirds for the Birds) and 70% (Dr. Doug Tallamy). These benchmarks refer to the percentage of total plant material in a garden/landscaped area.
Native plants are best equipped to provide food and shelter for many types of wildlife (including insects, birds, reptiles and mammals), sustain pollinator populations and conserve water. A best practice for native plant gardens and landscapes is to refrain from deadheading plants, "cleaning up" prematurely (late April or early May) and blowing or disposing of leaf debris. Twigs, branches, stumps and leaves (dead and alive) provide habitat!
Warm-season grasses include Buffalograss, Blue Grama, Switchgrass and Big and Little Bluestem. Cool-season grasses include native fescues (e.g., Arizona fescue, Idaho fescue), Junegrass, Needle and Thread, and Indian (Sand) Ricegrass.
A mix of plants that produce pollen and nectar year round attract and nourish birds and pollinators.
Non-native honey bees can drain the nectar from most of the garden's flowers, leaving little for hummingbirds, bumble bees, and long-horned bees. Tubular flowers are a more exclusive resource for those bird and bee species, catering only to the long-tongued. The many species of Colorado Penstemons and members of the pea family are examples of plants with tubular flowers.
Native members of the Aster family are very common plants in Colorado and some of the best pollinator plants. They bloom in most seasons, making them an integral part of the food chain for seed-seeking birds (Goldfinches, for example), native bees, honeybees, butterflies and migrating monarchs.
In addition to fixing nitrogen, plants in the pea family offer pollen that is rich in the proteins necessary for bumblebee reproduction and larval development.

For Our Information Only

Last Steps!

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