Want wildlife to feel more at home in your yard? Michelle Kalantari offers the following ways to enhance back-yard habitat:
• Replace sod with native plants and trees.
• Leave some dead trees or branches to provide insect food and cavities for nesting birds.
• Leave a section of your property messy with weeds, leaf litter and brush. "Bugs and birds love it," she said. It can be an area not seen from the street or by neighbors.
• Use wood chips as a ground cover instead of dyed mulch. Even wood chips provide habitat.
• Start a compost pile, and spread compost around your plants in the spring, to provide soil biodiversity.
• Apply compost tea to your yard instead of fertilizer.
• Stop using chemicals on your lawn and pesticides in your garden. They kill many living things that keep the soil healthy and provide food for other creatures. "Pesticides don't just kill 'bad bugs'; they kill good bugs that help keep the system balanced," she said.
• Remove invasive species that crowd out native plants. (Examples of invasive species include garlic mustard, oriental bittersweet, buckthorn, Russian olive and Japanese beetles.)