For about a year, I've lived in a residential neighborhood northeast of Campus. It's the kind of place where the rent is cheap, the houses are crowded, the nights are noisy and the alleys are full of glass. For now, it's just what I need.

For about a year, I've lived in a residential neighborhood northeast of Campus. It's the kind of place where the rent is cheap, the houses are crowded, the nights are noisy and the alleys are full of glass. For now, it's just what I need.

But there's one big drawback: Most neighbors interact with nature only by dodging the squirrels that cross Summit Street and flushing out attic raccoons with an air rifle.

Yet even this part of the world could be an environment where flora, fauna and tenant thrive together, according to the National Wildlife Federation, which is continuing its quest to certify 150,000 backyard wildlife habitats across the country.

You don't need acres of space, grueling outdoor hours or landscaping experience to transform your land from hostile to hospitable.

The NWF suggested these tips for building a bona fide refuge behind your house.

Pick a target. Controlling which animals live near you is often a matter of adding and subtracting what you plant and build. For example, unlike possums, butterflies and birds can be particular about where they live and what they eat.

Use native plants. Trees, flowers and shrubs that grow naturally in your area are superior to fancy imports. They often require less maintenance and grow more heartily. They've also evolved alongside the wildlife you're trying to attract. Try to find dual-purpose specimens like the orange milkweed, a lovely wildflower that attracts monarch butterflies.

A void pesticide and herbicide. Many common chemicals can kill wildlife they're not designed to target. Instead of limiting them to specific areas, avoid spraying them altogether.

Provide food and water. Berries, nuts, greens, nectar and insects provide needed nourishment for most wildlife. In urban areas where natural foods are scarce, put out feeders for birds, butterflies and other animals. If you can't install a water feature, try a bird bath that you clean regularly. Place these additions where you can watch them from a window.

Don't forget about shelter. Mature trees, shrubs, fallen logs and brush piles are places where animals love to hide, sleep and rear young. Consider leaving a few dead trees, which are necessary parts of many ecosystems.