Irving and Gail, retired public school teachers in their seventies from the same neighborhood, have a yard space filled with forest-like undergrowth and dozens of trees, attracting cardinals, blue jays and robins, but also plenty of mosquitoes.

“People will come up and either love it or they think it’s out of control,” laughed Gail, declining to give her last name.

That tension speaks to the conflicting views that have emerged about rewilding efforts, said Chris Swan, an ecologist at the University of Maryland Baltimore County.

On the one hand is an opposition to “this American tradition of mowing a garden and having a lawn,” in favor of letting nature take its course which in turn increases biodiversity of plants and animals, he said.

But people think that often “looks messy, it looks unkempt.”