A climate action evanston program

Our Pollinator Pledge

We encourage six steps for our families, community, the planet, and birds and pollinators too. In fact, we build our whole program around these steps (and a few more).

More about what we're doing

Most recent version posted on:
August 23, 2023
Pollinator Pledge Sign

We encourage gardeners to pledge six steps for community health, climate sustainability, and biodiversity.

In addition to encouraging people to take the pledge, Natural Habitat uses the pledge as its curriculum. The six steps are central to our outreach and education to change the culture of lawns, and core to presentations to groups, garden visits, native plant giveaways and exchanges, tree plantings and more. We advocate for these steps with the city and community.

Taking the Pledge is free and online.


It is a kind of petition to show that there are many of us who want to change the culture of lawns. We want to show the city, yard companies and our broader community that Pledging to protect pollinators and birds matters to us.

For those who want to spread the word themselves, we offer yard signs:

  • Pollinator Pledge. Three different designs in English and one in Spanish. See the link above.
  • A 2-sided yard sign that calls out Mow Less/Leave Leaves,
  • A No Mow May sign and
  • A No Leafblowers sign.

We ask for a minimum $10 donation/sign, plus shipping if needed (USA only), to cover our costs.

What it Means. Garden like it matters. Do Less.

These steps are a good starting place to encourage beneficial bugs and birds in your yard.

  • Leave the leaves, plant stalks and seed heads. Sweep leaves under shrubs and trees. Skip the leaf blower. Insects overwinter in leaves, stalks and seedheads. Some, like fireflies and ladybugs, live all or most of their lives in debris. Birds rely on leaves and seed heads for forage, especially in winter.
  • No pesticides or lawn chemicals. Tolerate native insects eating your plants.  It suggests your plants are part of the ecosystem. To remove unwanted plants, pull or smother them.
  • Native plants for year-round forage. Limit the cultivars and non-natives in your garden. Remove invasives. Native insects need native plants to develop to adults. Just like the monarch butterfly needs milkweed, so do most other plant-eating insects: moths, bees, beetles, wasps, leafhoppers and more. More insects, especially caterpillars, means more songbirds.
  • Mow less. Reduce lawns, plant shrubs and trees. Use native turf-like grasses. Mow less often.
  • Reduce Light Pollution (wasted light). Use light IF, WHEN, and WHERE you need it, and keep it orange-red and minimized. Brighter isn’t safer.

And, avoid birds hitting your windows.  If we are inviting them to our gardens, let's keep them safe.


No Mow May

No Mow May, NHE. Signs for a donation.

Donate for a signDonate for a sign

Take our Pollinator Pledge

Six steps toward a biodiverse, sustainable yard (plus make your windows bird-friendly)

Take the Pollinator PledgeTake the Pollinator Pledge

Our Pollinator Pledge yard signs

Pollinator Pledge yard signs

Donate for a Pollinator Pledge signDonate for a Pollinator Pledge sign

Evanston Host Plant Initiative for the Rusty Patched Bumblebee

Evanston Host Plant Initiative for the Rusty Patched Bumblebee

Evanston Host Plant InitiativeEvanston Host Plant Initiative

NWF WIldlife Certification

Certify your habitat with NWF

Certify with NWFCertify with NWF

Our Artificial Lighting Doorhanger

Artificial Lighting Doorhanger, NHE. Share at brightly lit buildings to explain why it matters to dim lights.

Go to a pdf of our doorhangerGo to a pdf of our doorhanger

Our Eco-Friendly Yard and Garden Landscaping flyer

Our short guide to get your garden buzzing with life — attracting butterflies, bees, fireflies and birds.

Access pdf file of flyerAccess pdf file of flyer

Our Leafblower Door Hanger

NHE Leafblower Door Hanger

NHE Leafblower Door HangerNHE Leafblower Door Hanger

Our Yard Maintenance Brochure

Yard Maintenance Brochure in English and Spanish, NHE

View a pdf file of our brochureView a pdf file of our brochure

Who Lives in our Garden Debris? I want examples.

PPT showing some creatures we throw out with our debris.

See the PPTSee the PPT

Gardening that Matters PPT

NHE presentation to North Shore Senior Center tuesday club. Variations used for other groups. March 2023

Check out the PowerPointCheck out the PowerPoint

Our Natural Habitat Newsletter Signup

Sign up for the NHE Newsletter

NHE Newsletter SignupNHE Newsletter Signup

Transitioning from Turf PPT

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 PowerpointTransitioning From Turf Powerpoint

Transitioning from Turf presentation to FLOW

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.

Transitioning from Turf Video PresentationTransitioning from Turf Video Presentation

Cleanup with Pollinators in Mind

Garden Cleanup with Pollinators in Mind, Evanston Roundtable, 2019

Read hereRead here

Gardening that Matters video presentation

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.

See videoSee video

Evanston Lighting Ordinance

Evanston passed a lighting ordinance in December 2022 limiting outdoor lighting brillance and requiring shading.

Read OrdinanceRead Ordinance

NWF Native Plants Finder: Search your zip code for plants ranked by Tallamy

Website database: search your zip code for plants ranked by Tallamy

Check out your zip code Check out your zip code

Neonics: Bee-Toxic Pesticides to Avoid, Center for Food Safety

Center for Food Safety flyer

See the flyerSee the flyer

Neonics: Brands of Insecticides, Xerces

Xerces Flyer Insecticides in your Garden

See the flyerSee the flyer

Understanding Pesticides: Insecticides, Herbicides and Fungicides, Xerces Society

Webpage on diverse pesticides - insecticides, herbicides and fungicides

See the webpageSee the webpage

Audubon Plants for Birds Database by zip code

Audubon Plants for Birds Database

Audubon Plants for Birds DatabaseAudubon Plants for Birds Database

Chicago Audubon Society Plants for Birds

Chicago Audubon Society Plants for Birds

Chicago Audubon Society Plants for BirdsChicago Audubon Society Plants for Birds

Do Bug Zappers Work? Yeah—About As Well As Any Other Indiscriminate Wildlife Slaughter

NY Times, June 2023. Do Bug Zappers Work?

Read the articleRead the article

Mosquito Spraying: Insecticide resistance from repeat spraying

Prairie Research Institute and Illinois Department of Public Health factsheet on mosquito resistance to insecticides, 2021

Read the flyerRead the flyer

Wildlife Values from Doug Tallamy, Univ of Delaware

Plants measured as host plants for US caterpillar species from Doug Tallamy, Univ of Delaware

Wildlife Values from Doug TallamyWildlife Values from Doug Tallamy

Chicago Region Invasives

INVASIVE PLANTS OF THE CHICAGO REGION, An identification guide to 32 invasive or native aggressive plants most damaging to local ecosystems. Compiled by Robert Sullivan, Argonne National Laboratory (Retired) and Henrietta Saunders, University of Illinois Master Naturalist. 2022

See the FlyerSee the Flyer

Don't Mulch

Xerces Society on Mulching

Read blog postRead blog post

Fix Existing Windows: Fish and Wildlife Service

Threats to Birds: Collisions-Buildings & Glass. Details solutions, including comparative costs per square foot.

Read moreRead more

NY Times Why Do You Still Have Lightning Bugs? Ours Are All Gone.

New York Times ‘Why Do You Still Have Lightning Bugs? Ours Are All Gone.’ April 17, 2023 By Margaret Renkl,

Read ArticleRead Article

No Mow May factsheet from Midwest Grows Green

No Mow May factsheet from Midwest Grows Green

See factsheetSee factsheet

A Smarter Fall Cleanup

We now know that an overly aggressive approach to cleaning up in autumn can damage the environment. So what’s a responsible gardener to do?
Margaret Roach, The New York Times, A Smarter Fall Cleanup, 2020

Read hereRead here

Neonics: Huge Decline in Songbirds linked to common insecticide, National Georgraphic

Article on neonics and birds, 2019

Read the articleRead the article

The issues with Lawns

Freakonomics, How Stupid is our Obsession with Lawns

Freakonomics lawn transcriptFreakonomics lawn transcript

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - search native plants by state

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - search native plants by state

Lady Bird Johnson WIldflower Search State DatabaseLady Bird Johnson WIldflower Search State Database

You're Needed! Here Are Some Involvement Opportunities

Donating to Climate Action Evanston and earmarking your donation for Natural Habitat Evanston. You can further earmark your donation to one of our initiatives.

Take the Pollinator and Bird Pledge

take the pledgetake the pledge

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.

Join the Natural Habitat Evanston Newsletter


Stay updated on green goings on in Evanston, workdays, advocacy issues and more.

Buffalo Grass Anyone?

Buffalo GrassBuffalo Grass

$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.

Volunteer at plantings and invasive removals: parks and schools

Outdoor workdaysOutdoor workdays

Help at outdoor workdays

Join No Mow May

No Mow MayNo Mow May

Rethink how you Lawn

Sign on: Northwestern students Petition for Bird-Friendly Films at Mudd Library

Sign onSign on

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.

More Ways to Volunteer: Spread the word

Email usEmail us

Share out brochures, doorhangers, or flyers. Collect a bunch of materials on the 5th Ward Tree Giveaway, Pollinator Pledge, Eco landscaping, Yard care, Light pollution, Leaf blowers are an eco-disaster, or Buffalo Grass.

Join our Facebook Group

NHE FB GroupNHE FB Group

Get updates and share your thoughts on our FB Group. You can also check out our FB page here https://www.facebook.com/NaturalHabitatEvanston

More yard signs: Mowing, Leaves, Leafblowers?

2-Sided Yard Sign2-Sided Yard Sign

Just want to spread the word on certain steps? Mow Less-Leave Leaves (2-sided yard sign) or Leafblowers sign

Join the Isabella Woods Newsletter

Isabella Woods NewsletterIsabella Woods Newsletter

Get news the next time there is a threat to Isabella Woods. (Only sent when there is news.)

Certify with National Wildlife Federation

Certify now with NWFCertify now with NWF

Provide Food, Water, Shelter, Places to Raise Young and Sustainable Steps for wildlife. It helps Evanston maintain its NWF Community-wide Wildlife Habitat certification.