Conservation@Home Eco-Friendly Landscaping Ideas and Certification Criteria

cah-new-yard-signThe biggest reward for using eco-friendly practices on your property is knowing you are contributing to clean water, rich soil, and resilient ecosystems that support people and wildlife. You can also become a certified Conservation@Home property by earning 100 points or more. Certified properties receive our attractive garden sign to display.

Start by choosing your approximate property size

Under one acre   Over one acre  
Earn these required 50 points   Earn these required 50 points  
       
One shrub or tree native to northeastern Illinois 5 An annual record of the year's activites has been created (Use ours or create your own) 5
A simple map of the property has been sketched showing the path of rain water flow 5 An aerial map has been created which shows the main types of plant cover (e.g., lawn, woods), water features (e.g., pond, cree), and arrows showing the direction of rain water flow 5
Lawn chemicals are minimal (or nonexistent!) 10 Lawn chemicals are minimal (or nonexistent!) 10
Invasive species collectively cover less than 5% of the property 10 At least 10 trees or shrubs native to northeastern Illinois are present-OR-perennials native to northeastern Illinois make up at least 5% of the landscape 10
Plants native to northeastern Illinois make up at least 5% of the landscape 20 An ecological plan has been created that identifies 1)ecologically valuable features, if present, and a simple plan to care for them; 2)invasive species, if present, and a simple plan to reduce them; and 3)opportunties to improve ecosystem health 20

You are on your way! To finish earning the 100 points you need for certification, choose 50 points from below. Not interested in certifying? That’s fine—this list can still help you contribute to clean water, healthy soil and resilient ecosystems.

 

 
 

Native Plants

Each native shrub beyond original 2
Each native tree beyond original 5
Landscape supports at least 15 species of native perennials, shrubs and/or trees 10
Landscape supports at least 30 species of native perennials, shrubs and/or trees 20
Each additional 10% of the landscape in native plants, beyond the required 5% 10

 

Lawn Care

Watering is only for new plantings that are being established or from collected rainwater 5
Lawn is mowed three inches tall and grass clippings are left in place 5
Electric, propane or reel mower is used 10
Lawn has been aerated and top-dressed with compost or compost tea in past year 15
Lawn contains buffalo grass or other low-mow species 15
Lawn takes up less than 50% of the available landscaping 15

 

Soil

In addition to above items, the following practices support soil health

A soil test has been conducted 5
Composting takes place 10
Autumn leaves remain on the property; are not burned or bagged 10
Plantings protect lake, pond or stream shoreline 10
A soil erosion problem has been greatly reduced or eliminated 15

 

Rain Water

In additon to above items, the following practices support clean water

Each rain barrel 5
Each rain garden 10
Each bio-swale 10
Rain-permeable walkway 10
Other than buildings, less than 10% of property is paved with asphalt, concrete or other impermeable materials 10
Roof downspouts are directed to a garden or flat portion of lawn 15
Rain-permeable driveway 20
Green roof 20

 

Wildlife

In addition to above items, the following practices support wildlife habitat

 
One or more wildlife houses 5
Pond, maintained birdbath or other water feature 5
Brush pile or large dead tree (safe locations only, as ordinances allow) 5
Native plants include at least 10 from the butterfly-friendly plant list (coming soon) 15
Native plants include at least 10 from the bird-friendly plant list (coming soon) 15

 

Family

Created a family-friendly environment that encourages nature observation 15

 

Invasive Plants

A large patch of invasive species has been removed 20

 

Local Food Production

Vegetable or fruit garden 10
Honeybees or chickens 10

 

Nature Champion

You have recruited two or more neighbors for Conservation@Home property consultations 10
You have mentored two or more neighbors on sustainable landscaping practices 10
You have hosted or are scheduled to host a group tour of your property’s eco-features, or helped facilitate a Conservation@Home presentation

10

Let's Talk

We recognize that each property is unique. Tell us about a distinctive practice or feature you feel is noteworthy. Points Vary. Read More

 

Certification is valid for five years and renewable through a return visit to verify that conservation practices have been maintained.

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