Green Landscaping: Greenacres
- Native Vegetation Enhancement
- Wild Ones Handbook
- Homeowners' Resources
- Landscaping Naturally (video)
Remember, we will not post any information intended to directly benefit for-profit enterprises
A Source Book on Natural Landscaping for Public Officials
- APPENDIX 4: Sources of Information and Assistance
- APPENDIX 5: Fact Sheet: What is Natural landscaping and why is it beneficial?
- APPENDIX 6: Sample Ordinances
- APPENDIX 7: Illinois EPA Permit Information
- APPENDIX 8: Examples of Natural Landscaping Installation and Maintenance Costs
- APPENDIX 9: Executive Order
- APPENDIX 10: Selected Bibliography
SOURCES OF INFORMATION AND ASSISTANCE
American Society of Landscape Architects
Audubon Society of New York State, Inc.
Chicago Botanic Garden
City of Chicago Department of Environment
Chicagoland Environmental Network
Cooperative Extension Service of the
Illinois Department of Natural Resources
Illinois Department of Natural Resources
Illinois Native Plant Society
The Morton Arboretum Library
National Wildflower Research Center
The Nature Conservancy
Northeastern Illinois Planning
US Army Corps of Engineers
USDA: Natural Resources
(formerly the Soil Conservation Service):
DuPage and Kane Counties:
North Cook County:
South Cook and Will Counties:
Wild Ones - Natural Landscapers, Ltd.
SOURCES OF NATIVE SEEDS, PLANTS, AND GARDEN CATALOGS
Company names mentioned on the following pages are presented strictly for informational purposes; there is no implied endorsement or recommendation. Other companies provide materials for natural landscaping. An exhaustive listing is not possible for this type of publication.
Bluestem Prairie Nursery
LaFayette Home Nursery, Inc.
Possibility Place Nursery
Spring Bluff Nursery
The Natural Garden
The Prairie Garden
Windsong Prairie Nursery
Plant Sales held by Not-for-Profit Organizations:
Wildflower Preservation and Propagation Committee (McHenry County Defenders)
Held annually the first Sunday of May
Chicago Botanic Garden
A Bloomin Sale
1000 Lake cook Road
Glencoe, IL 60022-0440
Held annually in May; call for dates
Applied Ecological and Taylor
Prairie Future Seed Company
Prairie Ridge Nursery
Reeseville Ridge Nursery
FACT SHEET: WHAT IS NATURAL LANDSCAPING AND WHY IS IT BENEFICIAL?
WHAT IS NATURAL LANDSCAPING?
Natural landscaping is the design, construction, and maintenance of landscapes which provide the beneficial natural functions that are lost through cultivation of conventional lawns. Natural landscaping stresses the preservation and reintroduction of plants native to our area. The native plants used in natural landscaping are hardy and attractive. They can be used to stabilize soil, reduce flooding, absorb pollutants, and sustain wildlife. Conventional turf, composed of cool season grasses (e.g. Kentucky blue grass), is costly to maintain; dependent upon environmentally damaging chemicals; non-supportive of the diversity of organisms that are characteristic of a healthy environment; and lacking in visual interest.
WHY IS NATURAL LANDSCAPING BENEFICIAL?
Reduced Costs of Landscape Installation and Maintenance
Natural landscapes do not require irrigation; they need no or infrequent mowing; lawn maintenance services are not needed.
Reduced Costs of Stormwater Management
Natural landscaping reduces the amount of stormwater runoff, thereby reducing infrastructure costs. Stormwater conveyance and detention facilities that replicate natural systems are less expensive to build and maintain.
Creation of Distinctive and Attractive Properties
The visual interest and diversity of natural landscapes are assets to property owners and communities. Natural landscapes are a part of high quality design and environmental stewardship.
Support of the "Green Industry"
Natural landscaping is an increasingly important segment of the green industry. There are opportunities for business development, especially in relation to landscape design and the propagation and installation of plant materials.
Reduced Soil Erosion
Native plants appropriately used on sloped sites, stream banks, drainage ways, and shorelines can effectively hold the soil and reduce erosion.
Improved Water Quality
Native vegetation in naturalized drainage ways enhances the infiltration of contaminated stormwater. The root systems improve soil permeability and help the uptake of pollutants. Vegetated buffers along streambanks and shorelines intercept surface runoff and subsurface water pollutants. The avoidance of fertilizers and other chemicals is also a big factor in protecting water quality.
Reduced Air and Noise Pollution
Lawn mowing equipment is a heavy air polluter and is noisy. Natural landscaping requires little or no mowing.
Native plants store large amounts of carbon which would otherwise exist in the atmosphere as carbon dioxide and contribute to global warming. Natural landscaping can provide shade and windbreaks to reduce costs of air conditioning and heating.
Habitat Restoration and Protection
Natural landscaping protects and restores habitats for wildlife. The introduction of native plants can enhance the populations of birds, insects, and animals which are essential components of healthy ecosystems.
Natural landscaping can provide a diversity of color and texture throughout the year which significantly contributes to the beauty of sites and communities.
Educational and Recreational Benefits
Natural landscaping puts people in touch with nature. Municipalities, school districts, park districts, forest preserve and conservation districts, as well as private educational organizations, can use natural landscaping as an educational tool.
Natural landscapes are ideal locations for bird watching, photography, walking and hiking, and simply enjoying the quiet and beauty of nature.
Natural landscapes provide professional scientists and science students with outdoor laboratories for studying nature.
WHO SHOULD USE NATURAL LANDSCAPING?
Natural landscaping should be considered where the ground surface is not required to bear intense usage. Wherever there is conventional lawn there is potential for small or large scale conversion to natural landscaping. New development projects should consider natural landscaping at the site design stage. Natural landscaping is especially appropriate for:
- home sites and planned developments
- governmental properties: civic building sites, schools, and libraries
- corporate and office campuses
- institutional sites
- golf courses
- roadway right of way and utility corridors
- stormwater conveyance and detention areas
WHAT CAN I DO IN MY COMMUNITY TO PROMOTE THE USE OF NATURAL LANDSCAPING?
As a property owner you can install natural landscaping on your own land and encourage other property owners to do likewise.
As a public official you can install natural landscaping on new and existing public sites. You can adopt or amend the local weed ordinances and development regulations so as to encourage natural landscaping. You can provide information about natural landscaping to residents, developers, and civic organizations. You can identify natural areas within the community that need to be preserved or restored. You can sponsor demonstration projects and award creative efforts.
As a volunteer you can assist in the installation and monitoring of natural landscaping projects. You can work with local officials and conservation organizations to promote natural landscaping.
As a developer you can include natural landscaping as a component of new development projects.
WHERE CAN I GO FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION?
United States Environmental Protection Agency
77 West Jackson Boulevard
Chicago, Illinois 60604
Internet Home Page: https://www.epa.gov/greenacres/
Northeastern Illinois Planning Commission
222 South Riverside Plaza, Suite 1800
Chicago, Illinois 60606
Internet Website: http://www.cmap.illinois.gov/
SAMPLE LOCAL ORDINANCES
Chapter 4 discusses the role of local government in encouraging the use of natural landscaping and describes a range of regulatory approaches that help eliminate local weed ordinances as a deterrent to natural landscaping. The text of natural landscaping ordinances is too voluminous to include in this document. Instead, several municipal ordinance sources are identified here and full text can be found on the USEPA web page: https://www.epa.gov/greenacres/
The Madison, Wisconsin natural lawn ordinance exemplifies the permit approach.
"Any owner or operator of land in the City of Madison may apply for approval of a land management plan for a natural lawn, one where the grasses exceed eight (8) inches in height, with the inspection unit of the department of planning and development."
The City of Madison has published "An Introduction to Naturalized Landscapes: A Guide to Madison Natural Lawn Ordinance" which provides excellent supportive information, including sketches illustrating various approaches to using natural landscaping in residential lots. There are tips on how to sustain compatibility with neighbors who do not use natural landscaping.
Harvard, Illinois takes a similar approach within its weed ordinance by providing for exceptions and a permit process for natural landscaping. Exceptions are for native planting, wildlife plantings, erosion control, soil fertility building, government programs, educational programs, cultivation, biological control, parks and open space, and wooded areas.
A model ordinance included in Bret Rappaport's John Marshall Law Review article (Volume 26, Summer 1993, Number 4) takes the approach of providing for a setback:
- Prohibition: untended, rank and unmanaged growth of vegetation on any property
within the city which is visible from any public way, street, sidewalk or alley is
declared to be a public nuisance and may be abated in accordance with the procedures set
forth in articles 2-3 of the ordinance. This prohibition shall not apply to vegetation
native to [state or region], provided there is a setback of not less than four (4) feet
from the front line of vegetation not in excess of eighteen (18) inches exclusive of trees
- Procedure: the city shall issue a written citation to a landowner whose property is
in violation of article 1 of this ordinance. This citation shall inform said landowner of
the basis of the citation and shall include the following information: 1)the date of any
inspection and the name of the inspector; and 2) the names and addresses of any neighbor(s) of the landowner or other person(s) who contacted the city or was contacted by
the city regarding the alleged violation of article 1 of this ordinance. The citation
shall be adjudicated in accordance with art. ___, of the municipal code relating to
adjudication of [traffic offenses].
- Abatement and penalty: upon a finding of guilty in accordance with article 2 of this ordinance, the landowner shall have twenty-eight (28) calendar days in which to abate the nuisance. If he/she does not so act, the city may take whatever reasonable action is necessary to abate the nuisance. The costs of such abatement shall be assessed against the landowner and shall constitute a fine, the collection of which may be made pursuant to the provisions of art. ___[relating to imposing a lien on the property].
Long Grove, Illinois, a low-density conservation conscious community takes a comprehensive approach involving the creation of upland and lowland conservancy districts, as well as scenic corridor districts. The municipality works directly with the Illinois EPA to regulate burning. The village has a conservancy/scenic corridor committee and an application and review process for residents wanting to make landscaping improvements within the conservancy districts. Residents are also provided with plant lists and lists of seed and plant sources.
The Milwaukee Audubon Society has promulgated a model natural landscaping ordinance which establishes the right to landscape naturally provided the natural heritage or ornamental garden does not encroach upon property ownership lines or right-of-way, and the owner/occupier complies with notice provisions:
"Section 1. Natural heritage and ornamental gardens. Not withstanding any provision of any other ordinance, an owner or occupier, who has written authorization of the owner, of residential property may establish and maintain a natural heritage or ornamental garden, provided that:
a). Such a garden, or any portion thereof, does not encroach any property ownership line or public right-of-way: and, b). the owner or occupier complies with the notice provision of Section 2.
Section 2. Notice if any natural heritage or ornamental garden, or the combination thereof, occupies an area in excess of fifty percent of the surface area of the property, not otherwise occupied by buildings, structures, or improvements, the owner or occupier shall file a notice with ________. Such notice shall contain: a). The name and address of the owner or occupier filing the notice; b). A drawing or sketch that depicts the area of the garden ... c). In the case of a natural heritage garden, the drawing shall identify the type of natural community which is intended to be simulated."
An ordinance proposed for Appleton, Wisconsin reads, in part, as follows:
"The ordinance recognizes the fundamental right of every landowner to develop and maintain his landscape in the manner of his choosing, insofar as it is not in a state of neglect, nor presents a hazard to the public health or safety, or to the agricultural environment.
(a) every landowner possessing lawns of the conventional bluegrass type shall be responsible for maintaining them at a height not to exceed eight inches.
(b) every landowner shall be responsible for the destruction of all weeds on every parcel of land which he shall own or control.
The city acknowledges the desirability of permitting and encouraging the preservation and restoration of natural plant communities within its boundaries. It acknowledges its citizens' rights to enjoy and benefit from the variety, beauty, and other values of natural landscaping, including freedom from toxic chemicals, and it seeks to guarantee citizens the freedom to pursue restoration projects as viable and desirable alternatives to other conventional modes of landscaping. In such cases, the city encourages, but does not require, landowners to discuss their intentions with the weed commissioner before undertaking such endeavors."
A proposed natural landscape ordinance from the national wildflower research center in Austin, Texas provides a broad legislative purpose to support natural landscaping and then establishes the right to landscape naturally:
"It shall be lawful to grow native plants, including ferns, grasses, forbs, shrubs, and trees, in a managed landscape design when said plants were obtained not in violation of local, state or federal laws. No commissioner or other agent of the [town, city, village, county, etc.] may undertake to damage, remove, burn, or cut vegetation on a preservation or restoration project or in any other landscape incorporating native plants, except those specifically prohibited herein, and except on order of a court of record following a hearing at which it is established (1) that noxious weeds specifically named in the weed ordinance exist in such preservation or restoration projects and that a condition creating a clear and present hazard to public health or safety has arisen or (2) that the project is a threat to the agricultural economy. An action for a court order under this subsection shall be maintained as an action to enjoin a public nuisance. A court order under this subsection shall provide that the destruction, cutting or removal of vegetation shall be selective unless general cutting, destruction, or removal is necessary to eliminate the offending condition."
A 1996 proposal to amend the city and village powers in the state of Nebraska contained language pertaining to the weed control powers of local government, with the specific provision that:
"For purposes of this section, herbaceous vegetation that endangers the public health, safety, and welfare does not include native grasses and plants indigenous to Nebraska that are (a) planted and maintained as part of a garden or for landscaping purposes or (b) planted and maintained for erosion control, weed control, or designated wildlife areas."
Similarly, proposed amendments to the weed ordinance of Lawrence, Kansas contained such language as:
"The purpose of this article is to recognize a person's fundamental right to choose their own landscaping whether it be the conventional mowed turf grass lawn or the less common natural landscaping; to differentiate between permitted natural landscaping and unpermitted growth or neglect...
Provided that nothing in this article shall be construed to subject trees, shrubbery, varietal flowers or native plant flowers, decorative grasses or native prairie grasses, ornamental plants and formal or informal flower or vegetable gardens to the provisions regarding excessive growth contained herein."
Illinois EPA Burning Permit Information
(PDF 676Kb, 3pps)
Examples of Natural Landscaping Installation and
(PDF 640Kb, 3pps)
President's Executive Order on Beneficial
Landscaping (April 26, 1994)
(PDF 364Kb, 1p) in the GreenAcres web site
A. NATURAL LANDSCAPING
Diekelmann, John; Schuster, Robert, 1982: Natural Landscaping - Designing with Native Plant Communities. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company.
Harker, Donald; Evans, Sherri; Evans, Mark; Harker, Kay; 1993: Landscape Restoration Handbook. Boca Raton: Lewis Publishers.
Henderson, Carrol L., 1987: Landscaping for Wildlife. St. Paul: Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
Apfelbaum, S. I., J.D. Eppich, T.H. Price, and M. Sands, 1995: "The Prairie Crossing Project: Attaining Water Quality and Stormwater Management Goals in a Conservation Development" in Proceeding from A National Symposium: Using Ecological Restoration to Meet Clean Water Act Goals, Chicago, IL. Northeastern Illinois Planning Commission,1995.
Austin, Richard L., 1984: Designing the Natural Landscape. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Company.
Coppin, N. J., Richards, I.G., eds., 1990: Use of Vegetation in Civil Engineering. Cambridge, Great Britain: University Press.
Dreher, D.W. and T. H. Price, 1992: Best Management Practice Guidebook for Urban Development. Chicago, IL: Northeastern Illinois Planning Commission.
Gray, Donald H.; Leiser, Andrew T., 1989: Biotechnical Slope Protection and Erosion Control. Malabar, Florida: Krieger Publishing Company.
Rust Environment and Intrastructure, "Streambank Stabilization Program," August, 1995, for the DuPage County Department of Environmental Concerns.
C. VEGETATION AND PLANTS
Booth, Courtenay and James H. Zimmerman, 1978: Wildflowers and Weeds. New York: Prentice Hall.
Lunn, Elizabeth T., 1982: Plants of the Illinois Dunesland. Waukegan, IL: Illinois Dunesland Preservation Society.
Mohlenbrock, Robert H., 1970: Flowering Plants - Lilies to Orchids. The Illustrated Flora of Illinois. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press.
Mohlenbrock, Robert H., 1982: Flowering Plants - Basswoods to Spurges. The Illustrated Flora of Illinois. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press.
Mohlenbrock, Robert, H., 1990: Flowering Plants - Nightshades to Mistletoe. The Illustrated Flora of Illinois. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press.
Newcomb, Lawrence., 1977: Newcomb's Wildflower Guide. Boston: Little Brown and Company.
Swink, Floyd; Wilhelm, Gerould, 1994: Plants of the Chicago Region. 4th ed. Indianapolis: Indiana Academy of Science.
Werner, William E., Jr., 1988: Life and Lore of Illinois Wildflowers. Springfield, IL: Illinois State Museum.
Young, Dick, 1994: Kane County Wild Plants and Natural Areas, Geneva, Illinois: Kane County Forest Preserve District. 2nd ed.
D. HABITAT RESTORATION (IN GENERAL)
Anonymous, 1981: Illinois plants for habitat restoration. Springfield: Illinois Department of Conservation.
Costello, David F., 1969: The Prairie World - Plants and animals of the grassland sea. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Company.
Duncan Patricia D., 1978: Tallgrass Prairie: The Inland Sea. Kansas City: The Lowell Press.
Kirt, Russel R., 1995: Prairie Plants of the Midwest: Identification and Ecology. Champaign, IL: Sties Publishing L. L. C.
Nicols, Stan; Entine, Lynn, 1978: Prairie Primer. University of Wisconsin-Extension.
Rock, Harold W., 1977: Prairie Propagation Handbook. 5th Edition. Wehr Nature Center: Whitnall Park.
Runkel, Sylvan T.; Roosa , Dean M., 1989: Wildflowers of the Tallgrass Prairie: The Upper Midwest. Ames, Iowa: Iowa State University Press.
Smith, J. Robert; Smith, Beatrice S., 1980: The Prairie Garden - 70 Native Plants You Can Grow in Town or Garden. Madison, WI: The University of Wisconsin Press.
Voigt, John, W.; Mohlenbrock, Robert H., ?: Prairie Plants of Illinois. Springfield, IL: Illinois Department of Conservation, Division of Forestry.
Miller, Robert W., 1988: Urban Forestry - Planning and Managing Urban Greenspaces. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice Hall.
Mohlenbrock, Richard H., ?: Spring Woodland Wildflowers of Illinois. Springfield, IL: Illinois Department of Conservation.
Caduto, Michael J., 1990: Pond and Brook - A Guide to Nature in Freshwater Environments. Hanover, NH: University Press of New England.
Mohlenbrock, Robert, ed., 1988: A Field Guide to the Wetlands of Illinois. Springfield, IL: Illinois Department of Conservation.
Salvesen, David, 1990: Wetlands: Mitigation and Regulating Development Impacts. Washington, D.C.: ULI - the Urban Land Institute.
H. NATURAL GARDENING AND LAWN ALTERNATIVES FOR HOMEOWNERS
Note: An increasing selection of books on this subject is coming onto the market. The gardening section of most larger bookstores and libraries will have many titles from which to choose.
Austin, Richard L., 1986: Wild Gardening - Strategies and Procedures using Native Plantings. New York: Simon & Schuster, Inc.
Bormann, F. Herbert; Balmori, Diana; Geballe, Gordon T., 1993: Redesigning the American Lawn / A Search for Environmental Harmony. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Daniels, Stevie, 1995: The Wild Lawn Handbook: Alternatives to the Traditional Front Lawn. Yew York: Macmillan.
Druse, Ken; Roach, Margaret, 1994: The Natural Habitat Garden. New York: Clarkson Potter/ Publishers.
Smyser, Carol A., 1982: Nature's Design / A Practical Guide to Natural Landscaping. Emmaus: Rodale Press.
Snyder, Leon C., 1991: Native Plants for Northern Gardens. Chanhassen, MN: Andersen Horticultural Library.
Stein, Sarah, 1993: Noah's Garden / Restoring the ecology of your own back yards. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.
Wasowski, Sally; Wasowski, Andy, 1992: Requiem for a Lawnmower and other Essays on Easy Gardening with Native Plants. Dallas: Taylor Publishing Company.
Wilson, Jim, 1992: Landscaping with Wildflowers / An Environmental Approach to Gardening. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.
Wilson, William H. W., 1984: Landscaping with Wildflowers & Native Plants. San Francisco: Chevron Chemical Company.
I. WEED ORDINANCES
Note: NIPC is collecting and keeping on file ordinances adopted by local communities.
Rappaport, Bret, 1993: The John Marshall Law Review. Chicago: The John Marshall Law School. The John Marshall Law Review, Volume 26, Number 4, Summer 1993.