Path To Certification


These 4 Steps will take you down your path towards a certified Tennessee Smart Yard. This journey will help you understand, plan, create, and nurture an ecologically-sound landscape.

Just as every yard is unique, so is the set of stewardship actions chosen to meet needs while protecting natural and water resources in your community. You may find you’re already well on your way with your current landscape and practices.

From balconies to acreage, from green thumbs to novice, there is something for everyone. The principles can be applied across the range of yard sizes, and there is no end to stewardship.

The workbook is your roadmap to a more sustainable landscape with the Nine Foundational Principles of a Tennessee Smart Yard.


The yardstick is your log for all the “inches” of actions you accumulate along your way to a Tennessee Smart Yard – 36 inches makes a smart yard, and there are 72 total inches to customize to your needs. Choose a yardstick format below.

Learn from our Expert Team in the Nine Foundational Principles of a Tennessee Smart Yard video series. Each session is 25-40 minutes and provides science-based information and practical tips.

Right Plant, Right Place
Manage Soils and Mulch
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Water Efficiently
Fertilize Appropriately
Manage Yard Pests
Reduce Stormwater and Pollutants
Provide for Wildlife
Protect Waters Edge

Each stewardship action is awarded 1-3 inches, depending on the complexity and resulting benefits. As you view videos and work through the workbook, use the yardstick to check your progress.

As you accumulate actions, consider keeping a field notebook or garden journal. This can help keep track of plantings, observations, successes, and challenges. Take photographs, and consider sharing them with us along the way.

A total of 36 inches of actions makes a Tennessee Smart Yard. There are a total of 72 inches available, so you can choose which actions make sense for you and your yard.

Share with us how you achieved your Tennessee Smart Yard. Certifiers will receive an official printable certificate (pdf via email).

Certifiers are also eligible to purchase the official Certified Tennessee Smart Yard yard sign to show efforts and start conversations on keeping Tennessee’s land and water healthy one yard at a time.

Official certification yard sign, 9 inches x 12 inches, aluminum, two pre-drilled mounting holes. Purchase instructions provided upon certification.

Stewardship is addicting and contagious. Once you have certified your yard, consider your next goals to help maximize the benefits for your property and community:

  • Add more actions over time.
  • Set a goal to have actions under each principle.
  • Share photos and stories on social media.
  • Add to our photos to our photo library here.
  • Look for opportunities in neighborhood shared spaces like parks and community centers.
  • Get involved with local schools, watershed groups, or garden clubs.
  • Recruit neighbors and offer to mentor them if needed.

Tennessee Smart Yard Communities Certification coming Spring 2022.