One of the things that bugs me about most landscaping in urban areas is the sterility. A tree, shrub, grass. Maybe some flowers in a pot or window box. Everything green and growing, but not too fast, not too far or too tall. An example: one of my neighbors graciously offered to cut down a dead aspen that had fallen over and lodged itself in one of the nearby trees. He offered to cut the stump down to the ground and take down the other dead aspen that was right next to it. I kindly refused - standing dead trees are rather useful in a yard (provided they don't threaten to knock over power lines, or fall on your neighbors car). He seemed incredulous and went about his own yard tasks.
Since then, the dead trees have been a den of activity. Both hairy and pileated woodpeckers have been hammering away, digging insects or whatever out of the trunk. They've been covering the ground with coarse woodchips. One of the stumps even has a nesting hole in it (haven't seen anyone using it yet this spring).
Here's a picture of the tree now. I've had woodpeckers all over this thing (about 50% of the tree has been pecked away). I even have a whole mess of woodchips to emphasize the pathway between the perennial beds.
All of this thanks to a dead tree that I left standing. I'd like to think that my neighbor, eager to "clear out the dead wood" understands how much life that dead tree adds to my backyard.