Contact the CoNPS Team

Administration (virtual office)
1536 Wynkoop Street, Suite 911
Denver, Co 80202

Programs HQ & Store
704 East Boulder Street
Colorado Springs, CO 80903

Certified Native Plant Garden & Landscape Program

Welcome to the Certified Native Plant Garden program! The program rewards the use native plants and educates communities about how native plants create healthy ecosystems.

Creating a native plant garden or landscape is a journey and certification is provided for different stages in that journey. Areas that meet the main threshold are awarded Certified status while those meeting more advanced criteria are awarded Silver and Gold status. The rubric used to make certification decisions can be viewed on the website.


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: Plant names that include single quotation marks are not straight species. Example: Amelanchier alnifolia 'Regent'. Plant names with indicators for trademark, registered or patent pending are also not straight species.


  1. Individuals, groups, or organizations can apply year-round for certification.
  2. To apply, submit this application and pay the program fee, which includes the cost for the yard sign. You can save and return to the application before submission.
  3. Applications are reviewed by the Colorado Native Plant Society. Those receiving certification are mailed a 5"x10", full color, weather-proof, aluminum along with decals indicating the year and level of certification.
  4. 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 publicly 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.
Include broad-view images as well as those focusing on particular areas.
Click or drag a file to this area to upload.
Upload a list of the Colorado native plants on the property. Scientific and/or common names can be used. Please group the plants 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!