Some of the largest landholders around are businesses, schools, and churches whose properties offer a tremendous opportunity to impact water quality and wildlife in the region. Through Conservation@Work we educate business owners and leaders on the benefits of native plants, ways to conserve rainwater, proper management of invasive species, and how to reduce chemical use and watering. 

These practices help preserve and restore our natural environment, and drastically reduce maintenance costs. They also provide shelter for beneficial wildlife and beautiful outdoor spaces while enhancing employee and customer satisfaction. Those who employ these principles can earn Conservation@Work certification, receive a sign recognizing their efforts, and get one-on-one advice about ways to make an even more positive environmental impact on their property. There is a one-time fee of $300 for certification, which includes a one-year membership to The Conservation Foundation. 

Certification criteria

Our Landscapes Can Do More

When we convert turf to native flowers and trees, we can reduce maintenance costs, manage stormwater, support wildlife, and create beautiful outdoor spaces all at the same time. In this video, Bill Bedrossian from Bedrock Earthscapes explains how we can reclaim turfgrass monocultures with native plants:

Pollinator Meadow Mix

The Conservation Foundation’s Pollinator Meadow Mix is the perfect alternative to traditional turf grass. Bursting with colorful native plants, but specifically designed to keep a low profile, this new product will bring beauty and function back to school, church, and corporate campuses as well as roadsides and parks across northeastern Illinois. It also helps businesses, organizations, and municipalities reduce their maintenance costs and fossil fuel consumption. What’s not to love?

While the Pollinator Meadow Mix is site-specific and will vary depending upon hydrology and growing conditions, it contains a mixture of short-growing perennial flowers, grasses and sedges, and buffalo grass that are native to Illinois. It was developed in partnership with The Pizzo Group, Applied Ecological Services, and Cardno. All three companies sell the mix and offer installation and maintenance services. The Conservation Foundation will receive a donation of $1/pound of Pollinator Meadow Mix sold.

Benefits of Pollinator Meadow Mix:

  • Reduces maintenance cost compared to turf grass
  • Reduces mowing, water, and fossil fuel consumption
  • Increases water absorption
  • Increases habitat for wildlife and pollinator insects
  • Increases carbon sequestration
  • Enhances curb and aesthetic appeal for enriched employee and customer experience 

It is recommended that The Conservation Foundation’s Pollinator Meadow Mix be professionally installed and maintained for the first two years as the plants get established. The seeding area will have a small bloom after one year as native plants build root systems, and should be fully matured and in bloom by the third year. Ongoing maintenance is still needed, but at a significant cost reduction compared to that of grass turf.

What it Does for Pollinators

The alarming decline of pollinator species, such as bees and butterflies, has been getting a lot of attention lately. The pollinator crisis has been directly linked to habitat loss and pesticide use. Large tracts of turf grass are basically ecological deserts, offering nothing in the way of nutrition or suitable living conditions for the birds, butterflies, and insects that keep our ecosystems in balance. The colorful native plants in The Conservation Foundation’s Pollinator Meadow Mix offer a tasty, beautiful buffet of pollen and nectar for the pollinators that delight our eyes and enable our food and plants to grow.

butterfly picture

What it Does For Your Budget

While The Conservation Foundation’s Pollinator Meadow Mix will still require some maintenance after it’s established, it will need much less than a traditional turf grass landscape. Businesses and municipalities that plant the Pollinator Meadow Mix will be eligible for Conservation@Work certification, another program of The Conservation Foundation that recognizes property owners who employ conservation practices in the care of their land. The Pollinator Meadow Mix is ideal for corporate campuses, parks, churches, schools, and municipal sites. For more information, contact Jim Kleinwachter at (630) 428-4500, ext. 115 or at [email protected].

Managing Ponds & Shorelines

Ponds add beauty to a landscape, but they can also benefit wildlife by providing habitat. Ponds can provide food sources, clean water for drinking or living, shelter, and nesting sites or nesting material for many types of wildlife, including birds and butterflies. In turn, we humans benefit from the ecosystem services we receive for free by having a pond, like more mosquito-eating dragonflies. Since many of our natural wetlands and natural ponds have been removed or degraded, landscaped ponds can help if we follow these suggestions when planning, constructing, and maintaining a pond:

  • Add a buffer of native plants around the pond to stabilize the shoreline and provide habitat for wildlife.
  • Maintain the buffer and prevent shoreline erosion by not mowing to the edge of the pond
  • Contact us at [email protected] for further guidance

HOA Detention Basins

The Conservation Foundation has been working with a number of Homeowners Associations to improve the management of common spaces and detention basins as more functional landscapes. How can we work with your Homeowners Association? 

  • Partner with us to bring Conservation@Home to your neighborhood with presentation and workshop offerings
  • Participate in your local rain barrel program

Winter Chloride Watchers Training Registration

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