For a thriving backyard, first add rainwater. It can be from the roof, the driveway, or runoff entering from the neighbor's. Play with its descent, as a mountain does with water cascading down its sides. Steer it away from the house and into swales and depressions,
where it can slow down and collect into miniponds. Rocks can be a nice addition, if you can figure out how to get them there, and some sort of sculpture adds a sense of place.
Add native plants that love being in or near water, like this royal fern just unfolding, and the fringed sedges in the background, and then let the rains come.
Add hens, who will love your yard even more than you do, turn dandelion seeds, ticks and worms into delicious eggs, and provide companionship as you pull a weed or two or three from the soft earth.
And finally, or at least finally thus far, add ducks, who will love your ponds even more than you do. Some will ask, as I did, "Why a duck?" But the next generation, which will inherit this world of habitats large and small, may counter bravely, and with the internet research to back it up, "Why not a duck?" The answer to that, if there is one, has yet to be found.