Making your wildlife tree part of the plan
If you’ve left the snag at 15 feet or better, but want to disguise it somewhat, plant lightweight climbers such as wild cucumber vine (Echinocystis lobata) or native clematis (Clematis virginiana) to twine up the trunk. You’ll need to provide some support for these vines to get started. Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) and wild grape (Vitis riparia) grow fast and can quickly cover a snag with a dense green cover, but these vines are very heavy and can hasten its collapse.
If you want to “dress up” your snag, you can hang seed feeders from its branches or from simple hanging brackets. Suet feeders can be affixed right to the trunk. If you really want to turn your snag into a work of art, hang flower baskets as you would the feeders. Plant with nectar-rich flowers for bees, butterflies and hummingbirds (see the FWG information sheet on butterfly gardening).
When the snag eventually collapses you can either leave it where it falls, or move it to a more remote part of your garden where it will continue its work of feeding insects, birds, and your soil.
In British Columbia, snags are considered so important that a snag-tagging program is underway. Bright yellow signs identify wildlife trees and inform the public about their value. Information about this program is available at the FWG Interpretation Centre.
If your neighbours complain about your snag, tell them what you are doing and why; you might change their way of looking at standing dead trees. It is only by changing how we view the land around us that we can begin to help restore and nourish both it and its wildlife.