Sustainable Landscaping

Village Hall's Rain Garden for pollinators


The demonstration Rain Garden behind Village Hall consists of native plants like Wild Bergamot and Blue Flag Iris that are hosts to many beneficial insects for food and shelter. The garden began in 2011 and is currently being revitalized by Northbrook's Greenest Region Corps Member. The Village hopes to lead by example in restoring Northbrook's natural landscape qualities to conserve water and promote pollinators. Updates on this project are provided here.

Now is a great time to begin planning your native garden. Residents are encouraged to use this guide to native garden planning to get started on transforming your outdoor space into a corridor for wildlife!

native garden guideConsider native landscaping

Incorporating native plants in your lawn is a great way to provide crucial habitat for pollinators, cut down on water usage and costs, and promote the health of our community. Colorful native wildflowers like Milkweed, Black-eyed Susans, Goldenrod, and Beebalm are all food sources for bees and butterflies. Native grasses such as Sideoats grama and Canada wildrye serve as important shelter for insects and small animals as well. Since they are perennial and thrive naturally once established in Northern Illinois, you’ll use less time, water, and gas on yard maintenance throughout the summer! You also do not need to use fertilizer, as leaf litter fallen from trees naturally provides nutrients to native plants. Pesticides are unnecessary as well, these plants benefit from insects.

Native prairie plants survive by growing deep roots that improve carbon storage and soil quality. Native wetland plants are adapted to frequent flooding: they improve water drainage and filtration of their surrounding environment. This means planting natives result in less water and less polluted water running off into streams and waterways during major rain events. Gardens that seek to maximize drainage using native plants and smart landscaping are called rain gardens. In an effort to encourage sustainable solutions for stormwater, residents that qualify for the Village's cost-sharing stormwater improvement program may have the costs for the installation of a rain garden offset. If eligible, a portion of the cost of acquiring and installing your rain garden will be covered by the Village. If interested in having the Village partially subsidize your rain garden, please contact the Public Works Department at 847-272-4711. Learn more and find resources for planning rain gardens on the Chicago Botanical Garden’s website


Native Plants

Common Milkweed


Blackeyed Susan


Purple Coneflower

purple-coneflower-by Alicja from Pixabay

Swamp Milkweed

monarch Image by stanbalik from Pixabay

Daisy Fleabane


Sawtooth Sunflower


Wild Bergamot


Rattlesnake Master


Royal Catchfly


Prairie Blazing Star




Smooth Blue Aster


50/50 Subsidized tree planting program

Residents interested in planting trees on their property may be eligible for the Village to cover up to 50% of associated expenses. The Village may cover up to $175 in cost of acquiring and planting a tree. Residents wanting more information can contact the Public Works Department via the GONorthbrook Service Request system.

Support our pollinators

In December of 2017, Village President Sandy Frum signed the Mayor’s Monarch Pledge, thus committing to create habitat for the monarch butterfly and pollinators and to educate citizens about how they can make a difference at home and in their community. See the Village Monarch proclamation here. The Village President resigned its commitment to monarch conservation in December of 2020 and looks forward to sustained and increasing related programming in Northbrook in 2021.

Monarch WayStation Program

YOU can help make a difference! In an effort to make the Village of Northbrook a resource-filled pit stop for our beloved pollinators on their travels, the Village’s Environmental Quality Commission (EQC) encourages residents to plant milkweed, a native plant that is necessary to complete the monarch life cycle. Monarchs exclusively lay eggs on milkweed as it is the only food source that the monarch caterpillar will eat. Residential gardens that sustain Monarch’s during their annual migration are eligible to receive a “Let’s Make Northbrook a Monarch Way Station” garden sign. To be eligible, gardens must:

  1. Contain native plants.
  2. Exclude exposure to pesticides.
  3. Contain at least three (3) native milkweed plants, planted in close proximity to one another. 

Bring a picture of your butterfly garden to the Public Works Department to receive a sign. Please confirm sign availability with Public Works Department prior to pick-up. For more information on building a way station, visit To ask a question or submit a photo of your Monarch Way Station, click here. 

Pesticides and pollinators

Pesticides are herbicides and insecticides used to control invasive plants and nuisance/disease-carrying insects. Pesticides are appropriate in some cases but should not be misused or overused. Research has shown that pesticides contribute to the decline of important pollinators, most notably bees. Before resorting to pesticide applications in your outdoor space, please review this checklist provided by Northbrook's Environmental Quality Commission. If considering a mosquito control service for your home, please consult this fact sheet put together in collaboration with Midwest Grows Green and North Shore Mosquito Abatement District.

Please read the fine print and follow instructions of pesticide application carefully. Neonicotinoids are a type of insecticide linked to adverse health effects in mammalian species such as birds. The chemical agent in neonicotinoids is used in a number of professionally applied and commercially available lawn products including Bayer Tree and Shrub, Treeage, and Sevin. Some commercially available herbicides contain dangerous active ingredients as well. Peer-reviewed research shows exposure to glyphosate (the chemical in weed-killers such as Roundup) increases likelihood of cancer in humans. In consideration of your community's health, prioritize organic alternatives and only use pesticides when necessary.

What to consider when planning a garden:

  • Utilize native plants. They consume significantly less water and survive better in our climate due to their deep roots and drought resistant nature. The deep roots acts like a sponge to allow soil to best retain water and filter pollutants. For a list of native plants that thrive in a variety of soils and shade availability, see this handy guide.
  • Any fencing installed around a new garden must comply with fencing height restrictions set forth in the Municipal Code. For more information, visit the Village’s Fence Permit page.
  • Any new garden must not become a nuisance (i.e. cause mud, icing or water to pool and accumulate on public sidewalks) or exceed the yard height limits allowed under the municipal code.
  • Any new garden may not change the grade of a property enough to cause drainage or erosion problems. For questions regarding this, visit the Village’s Storm water and Flooding Services page.