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


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.

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.


The Village's and Park District's 2021 prescribed burn programs and educational programming are supported by generous funding from ComEd and Openlands.

Project Description

In early April, the Village and Northbrook Park District will both be conducting prescribed burns of native landscapes throughout the community, weather permitting. These low-intensity burns enhance soil quality, help germinate desirable native plants, eliminate invasive plant species, and also support pollinators that are dependent on native landscapes for food and shelter.

This page has information on the Village's prescribed burns. The Park District's information can be found at this link.

Burn Locations

Burns will be conducted on the following properties:

  • Heritage Oaks Golf Club (formerly Sportman's Country Club, Park District-owned): All of the native areas on the course will be burned.
  • Techny Prairie Park & Fields (Park District-owned): The native areas located predominately on the north and east sides of the property will be burned.
  • Wood Oaks Green Park (Park District-owned): The sledding hill and the native areas on the western side of the property will be burned.
  • The "Old Northbrook East Basin" (Village-owned): The northernmost detention basin at Northbrook East (located north of the intersection of Midway and Sunset Ridge) will be burned.
  • The "Techny Basin/Old 319 Property" (Village-owned): The basin and native areas west of Glenbrook North will be burned.
Prior to the burns, the Village and Park District will mail postcards to any nearby residents informing them of the burns. This webpage will also be updated daily during the burns to update residents on changes due to weather, etc. Updates on the Park District's burn schedule can be found at this link.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why are properties with native landscaping burned?
Burning is done on properties with native landscaping to help support the healthy growth of the landscape. Many native Midwestern plants evolved on the prairie where fires would naturally occur. As a result, they are naturally resistant to fire and the seeds for many of these plants require the heat from the fire to germinate. Additionally, these burns help remove invasive species which did not evolve to withstand the fire while also breaking down old decaying plant matter to fertilize the soil. All of this in turn helps support pollinator species which depend on native plants for food and shelter.

Do I need to take any action during the prescribed burns?

No. These fires are low-intensity and continuously monitored to ensure that the burn is progressing safely. There will be some smoke, and those who are sensitive to it may wish to close their windows during the burns, but no other action is required.

Coming Soon: Native Landscaping Programming

In April, the Village and Park District will begin releasing short videos and print materials on native landscaping to help property owners understand how they can help promote native species in the community. These videos and materials will be posted on this page and the Village's social media accounts once available.

Project Updates:

Tuesday, April 13:

Due to wetter than expected conditions, the burn for Northbrook East will be rescheduled for Wednesday, April 14. The burn for Glenbrook North will be rescheduled to Thursday, April 15. Dates are subject to change based on weather conditions.

Monday, April 12:

On Tuesday, April 13, the Village's contractor will conduct a burn of the Techny Basin/Old 319 Property and Northbrook East Detention Basin beginning in the late morning.