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Planting Native Species

There are many reasons why your next landscaping projects should include native species. Generally speaking, natives species require less maintenance, as they are adept at dealing with ecological and environmental conditions in this area. Overall, the survivability of natives is higher and requires fewer chemical inputs, such as fertilizer and pesticide for them to thrive in your garden. Unlike annuals that die each Fall, native perennials do not require replacement year after year to maintain a well stocked landscape. In addition to hosting many of our pollinating insects, mammals, and birds they also aid in combating many conditions of urban development. These include erosion (particularly in ravines and bluffs), flooding/storm water management, and combating invasive species encroachment.

Since 2010, the City of Highland Park has made the use of native species central to a number of landscaping initiatives. The McClory Bike Trail Pollinator Garden project aims to replace invasive buckthorn along the trail with native, pollinator friendly species. Beyond its function within a natural area, natives can also be a staple within formal landscape design. This can be seen in a number of recent City projects at City Hall, Port Clinton Square, and islands within the Central Business District.

 First St Island-Natives  Polliantor Garden  Underpass Wall-Natives
 First Street Island  McClory Trail Pollinator Garden  Laurel Avenue Underpass


Invasive species, such as buckthorn and bush-honeysuckle grow vigorously and form dense thickets.These weedy shrubs shade out under story vegetation and out-compete native species for resources. Although these shrubs function as privacy screening between homes, many native shrubs and trees serve the same function without the detrimental side effects to your landscape.The Chicago Region Trees Initiative has compiled a list of Invasive Woody Plant Replacements that function as excellent vegetative screening.


North shore ravines and bluffs were historically covered with many plant species. To maximize success of your restoration, choose plants adapted to your local shade, moisture, and temperature conditions. Strive to purchase plants that were grown locally from seeds or stock harvested close to the Illinois Lake Michigan shoreline. Please note that this list is not intended to be exclusive or comprehensive, and it is recommended that you first seek advice from a licensed landscape architect or arborist to determine which plants are most suitable for your property. When planting, please  ensure  that  landscaping  debris  is  hauled  off  site  and not deposited into the ravines. 

Maintaining Ravine & Bluff Restoration
Select Native Ravine Plants for Restoration

For further information on native species and steep slope restoration, please contact the City Forester at 847.926.1604.