Winter Clearing for Beautiful Results

Is winter clearing of invasive woody species part of your stewardship plan?

Clearing invasive brush allows:

  • More sunlight and water to reach the desirable native plants already present
  • Dormant seed to awaken
  • Diverse species of birds, mammals and insects to thrive
  • High quality wildflowers to fill in and carpet the landscape

In winter, desirable native plants have gone dormant, allowing our crews to access and remove invasive woody shrubs and trees. When we perform brush clearing we target invasive trees and shrubs such as Box Elder, Silver Maple, Japanese Barberry, Common Buckthorn and Amur Honeysuckle. These trees and shrubs leaf out early and hold their leaves longer, preventing sun and water from reaching the native wildflowers and grasses. Once the stems have been cut back, it is necessary to treat the fresh stumps to prevent re-sprouting. Sometimes removal on nonnative trees such Ornamental Pear, Willow, and Black Locust is necessary. Follow up with a prescribed fire after clearing and see even better results.

With regular stewardship, your natural area or sustainable landscape can become a thriving, vibrant experience filled with plants, pollinators, and animals.

Bumble Bee Identification and Conservation Workshop

The Pizzo Group, in partnership with Bike a Bee, is offering a new Bumble Bee Identification and Conservation Workshop in 2019. The workshop is in Shabbona, IL on Thursday, May 30th from 9AM-3PM, including indoor and outdoor portions. Learn to identify the federally endangered rusty patched bumble bee and other bees native to northern Illinois. In this workshop, you will learn about the habitat needs and behaviors of the rusty patched bumble bee and why it has become an endangered species. Find out why bee surveys are an important part of the conservation effort, how they work, and how you can help.

Natural Areas Restoration for HOA Common Space

Classroom Seminar and Tour: Natural Areas Restoration for HOA Common Space

Thursday, October 4th – 9:00am – 11:00am
Hoffman Estates, IL

Community Association Managers and HOA Board Members will want to sign up for this seminar and tour where they will learn best practices for managing HOA common space and also earn two CAMICB credits for participating. The two hour session includes classroom discussion and a tour of a detention basin. Attendees will learn:

  • Terminology and common challenges for Community Association Managers, HOAs and common spaces
  • The benefits of a good restoration
  • How to ensure a good end product
  • What good and bad restoration looks like

Learn more and sign up for this complimentary session.

Fantastic Native Ferns

Some of our loveliest native plants are ferns. We have almost 20 species native to Illinois and we’re very excited to offer some in the nursery. Ferns add a particular grace to shade gardens or woodland areas and blend well with wildflowers and sedges.

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Northern Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum pedatum)

One of the loveliest of the native ferns, Northern Maidenhair Fern can reach up to two feet high and wide. Its wiry black stems allow the foliage to almost float, providing a delicate texture for the shade. This fern prefers moist, rich soils and is deer resistant.



Fern Sale DRYMAR.jpgMarginal Shield Fern (Dryopteris marginalis)

Reaching about two and a half to three feet high, Marginal Shield Fern is evergreen. Its bright green fronds do best in average to moist soils with good drainage and protection from wind. An erect foliage forms an elegant vase shape.




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Ostrich Fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris)

A tall, upright, vase-shaped plant, Ostrich Fern reaches around four feet high in ideal conditions and can spread aggressively. In spring, its tightly furled fiddleheads may be harvested and enjoyed while its feathery fronds punctuate the garden during the season. Ostrich Fern does best in moist to average soils and is very adaptable.




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Sensitive Fern (Onoclea sensibilis)

The only member of an ancient genus, Sensitive Fern forms loose clusters of open fronds and reaches about a foot high. It is named after its sensitivity to frosts in the fall. Sensitive Fern thrives in wet to moist soils, rich in organic material and protected from wind.




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Christmas Fern (Polystichum acrostichoides)

Christmas Fern features leathery deep green fronds about two feet high that form large clumps. An evergreen fern, it does best in average to dry soils that are high in organic matter and well-drained. The common name refers to the practice of gathering fronds at Christmas time for decoration.





Ready to try a fern? Contact Mandy at or 815.981.8000 to order. Check out our availability to see all of our available native ferns!


Plant Identification Training August 2018

Thursday, August 30th from 9:00 am to 3:30 pm – Lemont, IL

A hands-on lecture plus field training session for anyone interested in learning how to identify native and non-native plants found in the Chicago region, such as landscape contractors, landscape architects, environmental consultants, or interested enthusiasts. This all-day course covers methods for identifying plants found in both wetland and upland habitats, including regional books and websites, how to use a dichotomous key, tips for taking useful photos, and how to use iNaturalist. Participants will learn common terminology for describing leaves and flowers and gain an introduction to the major invasive species, common native plants, and largest plant families in our area. Led by cassi saari, ecologist with ecology + vision and Evan Barker, Quality Control Manager and Prescribed Fire Coordinator for Pizzo & Associates. Learn more

Milkweeds for Monarchs

monarch1Are you ready to welcome butterflies? Monarch populations are doing better, but they could still use some help! Try planting milkweed this year and be rewarded with monarchs and more. Their showy flower clusters also attract moths, skippers, bees, and beneficial wasps. Set your landscape to buzzing with milkweed!

In general, milkweeds are prairie plants, so plan on them putting on a show in summer, when butterflies are most prevalent. Look for monarch eggs and larvae and be tolerant of damaged foliage as the caterpillars feed. Reduce or eliminate pesticides and herbicides when you are planting for pollinators. There are several species of milkweed native to Illinois. We’ve chosen five favorites that will take root and thrive in full sun.

Asclepias incarnata or swamp milkweed

As you might guess from its common name, swamp milkweed can thrive in moist soils, but it will happily grow in average soil, too. Reaching about four feet high, it makes a good weaver plant in a garden bed as it tends to send up a single stem or a small cluster. Swamp milkweed flowers are deep rose in color and are held in a flat cluster beginning in August and blooming through September.

Asclepias sullivantii or prairie milkweed

Prairie milkweed is a shorter, stouter, less aggressive cousin to common milkweed at about three feet high. It boasts bright pink globular flower clusters held upright near the top of the stem. Lightly fragrant, it blooms June through August. Tolerates a wide range of medium moist garden soils. Named for William Starling Sullivant, a 19th century American botanist, prairie milkweed features smooth seed pods for winter interest.

Asclepias syriaca or common milkweed

A classic prairie plant and often found along roadsides, common milkweed can reach up to five feet high. Its hanging clusters of deeply fragrant lavender flowers bloom June through August. Tolerant of a variety of soils and light shade, common milkweed can spread readily from seed or rhizomes. The dried seed pods are valued for winter arrangements.

Asclepias tuberosa or butterflyweed

Butterflyweed is a showstopper in the landscape. Brilliant orange flowers bloom atop two foot clumps of bright green foliage from June through August. This milkweed requires sharply drained soils and will not tolerate heavy mulch or wet sites. Combine with Echinacea pallida for a striking contrast of vibrant color.  Enjoy its slender seed pods in winter.

Asclepias verticillata or whorled milkweed

Whorled milkweed is a lovely addition to any garden. It’s delicate, needle-like foliage reaches between one and two feet high and weaves through other plants. Small clusters of creamy white flowers bloom June through September. Plant this where you can enjoy its subtle beauty.

Pizzo 30! A Summer of Educational Events

We are celebrating 30 years as the leading ecological restoration firm in the Midwest. Jack Pizzo started his company in 1988 as a way to do everything he could to help our environment. We’ve come a long way since then and want to share it with you!

Join us this summer as we celebrate with a series of events where we share our knowledge and together we experience what Mother Nature has given us.

We’ve planned bus tours, nature walks, and community association seminars. Join us!

Learn more about our Pizzo 30! events.

Going Native: Backyard Native Landscaping

Saturday, July 14 at 10:00 am – Southwest Michigan

Learn the many benefits of “going native” at this seminar

Join Chikaming Open Lands to learn the art and science of creating a sustainable native landscape in your own backyard!

Learn the many benefits of “going native” at the beautiful restored prairie on the lakefront property of Peter and Jeanie Van Nice. Participants will be guided by expert environmental consultant, Jack Pizzo, in sourcing varieties of native grasses and wildflowers, creating a landscape plan, and  selecting suitable native ornamental substitutes for some popular non-native (and potentially invasive) flowers and shrubs. The session includes a walking tour of the Van Nice’s prairie.

Learn more and register here