A climate action evanston program

Trees for Schools

How hot is an unshaded playground or sports field? Very. We help cool our schoolyards with free native trees.

More about what we're doing

Most recent version posted on:
May 17, 2023

Trees cool our kids.

Natural Habitat this Spring planted 81 trees at nine public elementary and middle schools and the high school. In all there were 11 school plantings, with students, girl scouts, Openlands Treekeepers and school teachers and staff participating.

Planting a Swamp White Oak at Kingsley school
Planting a Swamp White Oak at Kingsley school

District 65 schools are lawn-heavy, often unshaded and, for kids on playgrounds, often extremely hot. NHE plantings engage classes of students to learn about the many benefits of trees. NHE also helps organize adult volunteers for plantings. Find the tree request form below.

Natural Habitat also provided fencing and mulch.

Heritage Oaks

These oaks are from acorns collected from some of the largest, oldest trees in Evanston.  

The mother trees have thrived in Evanston’s specific environment, suggesting that these baby oaks also will flourish in Evanston. Grown by Tom Klitzkie of Nature’s Perspective Landscaping, they include red, swamp white and bur oaks.

Oaks are the top tree for wildlife, acorns feed diverse birds, mammals and insects, and oaks are larval host to more than 500 species of butterfly and moth caterpillars. Larval host means these hundreds of species of pollinators require oak leaves to develop to adults, just as monarch caterpillars need milkweed in order to develop to butterflies. Twigs and other tree parts also feed wildlife.

Other Tree Species

Recognizing the value of diversity in our urban canopy, Natural Habitat can contribute other diverse native trees.  These trees must be collected from the nurseries, and we welcome help bringing the trees to Evanston if trucks or vans are available. Delivery charges reduce what we can spend on trees. (Heritage oaks are grown in Evanston, avoiding transport issues and costs.)

Here is the District 65 Process to Ask for Trees.


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

Petition for a Private Tree Ordinance, April 2023

Petition delivered to Mayor Biss, Council members, City Manager Stowe, Clerk Mendoza, Ms. Pollock and Ms. LeBlanc Fisher, April 2023. From Citizens’ Climate Lobby and Climate Action Evanston (formerly Citizens’ Greener Evanston)

Read the PetitionRead the Petition

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

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

Our Natural Habitat Newsletter Signup

Sign up for the NHE Newsletter

NHE Newsletter SignupNHE Newsletter Signup

D65 Process for New Trees at Schools

District 65 Process for New Trees and Native Plants at Schools

D65 Process for Trees at SchoolsD65 Process for Trees at Schools

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

Audubon Plants for Birds Database by zip code

Audubon Plants for Birds Database

Audubon Plants for Birds DatabaseAudubon Plants for Birds Database

The Morton Arboretum: Benefits of Trees

From Saving you Money to the Air you Breathe: Tree Benefits

The Morton Arboretum Tree BenefitsThe Morton Arboretum Tree Benefits

Chicago Audubon Society Plants for Birds

Chicago Audubon Society Plants for Birds

Chicago Audubon Society Plants for BirdsChicago Audubon Society Plants for Birds

NWF WIldlife Certification

Certify your habitat with NWF

Certify with NWFCertify with NWF

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

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.