On the Portola Valley property of Geoff Nuttall and Livia Sohn, milkweed now grows and larvae of the Monarch butterfly feed in the general vicinity of what were once a lawn, a swimming pool, a garage, a driveway and a cottage.
Chickadees nest there. Bees have set up colonies of larvae. Pest management is left to the plants and animals, while irrigation is done by hand.
That description was provided in writing by the town's Conservation Committee, along with equally complimentary descriptions of the properties of seven other Portola Valley households. All are winners of the 2015 Backyard Habitat award.
The other are: Alex and Randy von Feldt, David Prince, Bev and Peter Lipman, Meredith Rothrock, Sue and Gene Chaput, Allyson Illich, and Mark Deem and Laura Maren.
The winners receive a 3-foot-long, 4-inch-wide rusted steel plaque engraved with the name of the program and topped by a silhouette of an oak tree. The plaque can be tacked to a fence post indicating to passersby the presence of a welcoming habitat for native creatures.
The Conservation Committee has a backlog of households wanting to apply for the award, but are waiting for rain to reinvigorate their land, committee member Marge DeStaebler said.
"All of these recipients are preserving a gift for the future generations of Portola Valley, open space, which will be enjoyed also by insects, butterflies, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals that can live and flourish here," she said.
Mr. Prince removed his lawn, let native grasses grow and cut invasive grasses before they could seed, Ms. DeStaebler said. Foxes, rabbits, bobcats and coyotes enjoy the area near the seasonal creek, she said.
The Lipmans removed some 75 Monterey pines, as well as other invasive trees, ground cover and lawn, she said.
Ms. Rothrock got rid of at least one huge eucalyptus and other non-natives and replaced them with California natives, Ms. DeStaebler said.
Ms. Ilich replaced a screen of junipers and other invasive plants with Manzanitas, Toyon, Lemonade Berry and native shrubs and grasses, Ms. DeStaebler said.
"Natural backyard habitats benefit the community as a whole, increasing soil permeability, reducing flood potential, increasing ground water resources, and reducing danger from erosion, landslide and fire," the program's brochure says. "These sanctuaries protect our wildlife and bring untold pleasure to the residents of this beautiful community."
Go to this link for information.