Save money on your water bills and increase the value of your home – Create a desert habitat that will attract birds and butterflies!
Learn more and watch this short 9 minute video.
Make your yard a Chihuahuan Desert Education Coalition Certified Habitat! Read over the different levels of habitat certification below then complete the online form by clicking the APPLY NOW.
Once CDEC qualifies your property you will receive a signed certificate with the confirmed habitat level of your property and an invitation to purchase a yard sign designating your landscape as a Certified Habitat. You will also be invited to provide a photo of your landscape to be posted on our website to serve as an example for others to follow.
The Chihuahuan Desert Education Coalition encourages residents to landscape with native plants and create backyard habitats that will attract birds, butterflies and other wildlife. These mini habitats, when connected with other natural areas in the neighborhood, can make a real impact in helping wildlife such as birds needing trees to build their nests and butterflies needing nectar from flowers. Backyard habitats landscaped with native plants from our local Chihuahuan Desert also help the community conserve drinking water. Examples of drought tolerant plants include desert willow, yellow bells, acacia, sotol, ocotillo, and wooly butterfly bush.
CDEC Certified Front or Back Yard Habitats – Choose your level here:
Level 1 – Chihuahuan Desert Explorer
Your front or back yard includes at least three drought tolerant plant species and at least one Chihuahuan Desert tree or shrub.
Level 2 – Chihuahuan Desert Steward
Your front or back yard is a well-developed area with over a dozen drought tolerant plant species and shrubs. At least ten species are native to the Chihuahuan Desert. You provide shelter for wandering frogs and lizards, and a water source for wildlife.
Level 3 – Chihuahuan Desert Master Gardener I
Your front or back yard is a well-developed area with over two dozen drought tolerant plants, shrubs and trees of which at least 15 species are native to the Chihuahuan Desert. You provide shelter for wandering toads and lizards, and a water source for wildlife.
Level 4 – Chihuahuan Desert Master Gardener II
Your front or back yard is a well-developed area with over two dozen drought tolerant plants, shrubs and trees of which at least fifteen species are native to the Chihuahuan Desert. You provide shelter for wandering toads and lizards, and a water source for wildlife. You have also encouraged at least one other family in El Paso to certify their yard habitat.
CDEC is planting desert plants into yards of needy people, in support of the local non-profit Rebuilding Together El Paso.
Need help finding Chihuahuan Desert Plants?
Recommended Native Trees for El Paso County
Recommended Southwestern Native Plants
Milkweeds for the El Paso area
El Paso Rock and Cactus Club– offers local Garden Tours End of March or Beginning April
Native Plant Society of New Mexico
Texas Master Gardeners Association
Nature Can Help Cities Survive Extreme Heat
Get inspired through a walk in the UTEP Chihuahuan Desert Gardens.
If you need to add plants, here are some important planning steps to take before you begin:
Analyze your yard. The key to planting a native landscape with drought tolerant plants is to understand which plants can grow there easily with minimum effort.
Select plants for different zones in your yard including oasis areas that receive runoff from rain and shade, transition areas between oasis area and arid areas, and arid areas farthest from your home where there is little moisture and lots of sun. Select plants appropriate for your yard.
Study the information in websites above and look for plants that grow naturally in your area. Group water-needy plants near a structure where they will benefit from the shade and runoff from the rain.
Choose an appropriate mulch to help reduce erosion and retain moisture in your soil.