At enormous effort and ecological cost, non-native turfgrass has become our largest irrigated U.S. crop, bigger than corn, wheat and fruit trees combined. To nurture it we douse it with chemicals, trim and sweep it with gas-guzzling, air-polluting mowers and blowers, and overwater using 30-60% of our municipal fresh water supplies.
Prioritize a keystone native crucial for wildlife, such as a native oak (host plant to more than 500 native caterpillars), cherry (429 native caterpillar species), willow shrub (440) or birch (400), or add more goldenrods (112) or asters (105) for your pollinator garden. Encircle with mulch and ta dah: less lawn. (There are species of goldenrod and aster that are not aggressive.)
Consider buffalo grass (sun) or Pennsylvania sedge (sun-shade). To transition from turfgrass, you can smother your grass with cardboard, cover it with compost and mulch, add seeds and keep it moist. Depending on precipitation or watering, in @4 months the cardboard tends to have mostly decayed, enhancing the soil. Alternatively, you can smother (solarize) with plastic, but then the plastic must be removed to allow planting. Or you can dig up your turfgrass, but then you are removing the topsoil with the turf.
Let clovers and violets provide some nectar and seed. Mowing stops turf grass from producing seeds or blooms, diminishing the limited food it could provide to wildlife.
Improve habitat for birds and pollinators when you Take the Pollinator Pledge.
$25/bag to local residents (pickup; no shipping). Email Habitat@ClimateActionEvanston.Org to get on the list for when it arrives in April or May. We also have some $5 seed packets of bottlebrush and little bluestem grass, which are taller and often used as accent grass in native gardens. You can order up to one bag or packet of each species, while supplies last. Emails should include your phone number and which species you are requesting. Pay by check payable to Natural Habitat Evanston at pickup.
Buffalo grass is a gray-green colored grass, 4-8" tall that needs SUN. It is a North American native, but likely migrated to Illinois from plains short grass prairies and railroad workers.
No Mow May, NHE. Signs for a donation.
Our short guide to get your garden buzzing with life — attracting butterflies, bees, fireflies and birds.
Yard Maintenance Brochure in English and Spanish, NHE
NHE presentation to North Shore Senior Center tuesday club. Variations used for other groups. March 2023
Pollinator Pledge yard signs
Gardening that Matters. Get Started or Enhance your Native Garden. March 2023 presentation to North Shore Senior Center's Tuesday Club. A simple way to take action for climate, community healthand biodiversity: Swap out your lawn for native plants. Reconsidering theculture of lawns. Why it matters, steps to prioritize, how to get started, andhow to amplify the change. Leslie Shad of Natural Habitat Evanston presents.
Presentation on Transitioning from Turf (Powerpoint), January 2023. Touches on the issues with turf, why native plants, why leave leaves, concerns about neonicotinoids and outdoor lighting.
Transitioning from Turf presentation to FLOW (Friends of the Lower Olentangy Watershed, Columbus, Ohio) lead by Leslie Shad, NHE Lead. DIscusses the issues with turf, why native plants and why leave leaves, the concern about neonicotinoids, and how to navigate outdoor lighting.
NHE Leafblower Door Hanger
Sign up for the NHE Newsletter
NHE video presentation for Greener Glenview: why certify as a National WIldlife Federation community habitat
In Wisconsin: Stowing Mowers, Pleasing Bees, NY Times, March 28, 2022
Website database: search your zip code for plants ranked by Tallamy
No Mow May factsheet from Midwest Grows Green
New York Times ‘Why Do You Still Have Lightning Bugs? Ours Are All Gone.’ April 17, 2023 By Margaret Renkl,
Audubon Plants for Birds Database
From Saving you Money to the Air you Breathe: Tree Benefits
Chicago Audubon Society Plants for Birds
Certify your habitat with NWF
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - search native plants by state
Donating to Climate Action Evanston and earmarking your donation for Natural Habitat Evanston. You can further earmark your donation to one of our initiatives.
Join our Pollinator Pledge and let the city and landscapers know we care about sustainable yards. Take an optional yard sign to spread the word.
$25/bag to local residents (pickup; no shipping). We also have some $5 seed packets of bottlebrush and little bluestem grass. While supplies last. Emails should include your phone number and which species you are requesting. Pay by check payable to Citizens’ Greener Evanston at pickup.
Help at outdoor workdays
Northwestern students Petition for Bird-Friendly Films at Mudd Library. Mudd Library accounts for over 14% of bird deaths and injuries on campus each year. Applying patterned window film to a portion of the building would dramatically reduce collisions that are fatal to birds.
Get updates and share your thoughts on our FB Group. You can also check out our FB page here https://www.facebook.com/NaturalHabitatEvanston
Just want to spread the word on certain steps? Mow Less-Leave Leaves (2-sided yard sign) or Leafblowers sign
Get news the next time there is a threat to Isabella Woods. (Only sent when there is news.)
Provide Food, Water, Shelter, Places to Raise Young and Sustainable Steps for wildlife. It helps Evanston maintain its NWF Community-wide Wildlife Habitat certification.