Tye Purnell and his family started with something of a "blank slate" when they moved in to their Mount Kembla house, but now it's a rich habitat for native wildlife.
About 25 different species of birds, plus various lizards and native insects, he said had been attracted over the ten years of native plantings.
He's now keen to tell people about the Habitat Stepping Stones project, where residents build up the native plants in their property to extend the habitat available for wildlife - a pond as well in this case.
"Loads of birds are one of the first things that you start to notice," Mr Purnell, 36, said.
"It's almost constant at the bottom of the yard - there's always something going on.
"Lots of bower birds, green catbirds, currawongs, magpies ... I think we've just passed 25 species of birds that we confirmed.
"We've had water dragons, bluetongues, eastern water skinks, then the normal backyard lizards ... and some frogs as well as native bees, dragonflies, hover flies."
Habitat Stepping Stones started at Macquarie University and is celebrating turning 10. Participants pledge to add at least three elements to their outdoor space and can elect to have a bird placed on their address on an interactive map. This allows participants to see how their place acts as a wildlife stopover.
The Illawarra so far has eight homes on the Stepping Stones map.
As housing development continues to push further into the bushland fringes around cities - often with little or no tree cover to speak of - greening the urban areas becomes more important.
Mr Purnell, whose job is also creating backyard habitats, said it's just a nice way to live.
"We've all got to live somewhere, and ultimately the more people spread out, the more we encroach on the wilderness areas," he said.
"So I think it's like nice way to respect country as well - if you can move to these places and just say, well, this is what lived here before me, is it really a big deal if I put in something that will support a few birds and some of the lizards?
"A few frogs might come in ... I just think it's a nice way of living and I think that if more people did it, you, you'll probably hear more about all of our local species as well."
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