Nature Walk at The Monte Bello Estate May 2018

Nature Walk at The Monte Bello Estate

Thursday, May 31st with start times at 10:00 am and 12:00 pm – Lemont, Illinois

Join us for a nature walk at the picturesque Monte Bello Estate in Lemont, IL

Come explore a newly re-discovered woodland remnant with us in Lemont, IL at The Monte Bello Estate. This amazing wedding venue includes slightly degraded remnant savanna and woodland. These kinds of remnants are very rare in Illinois (for example, less than 0.07% of prairies in the state are considered high quality remnants) but this one is a special find.

On the walk, you’ll see nearly 200 native species and perhaps even a rare bird in a picturesque setting. The walk will be led by Evan Barker, one of our native plant experts. This is a great opportunity to learn more about restoration and what The Pizzo Group can do for you. Light refreshments will be available.

Space is limited. Register here.

Spring Clean-up

Spring is a special time in the Midwest where we shake off the weariness of winter and Mother Nature celebrates with a burst of color. Have you walked in the woods looking for spring wildflowers? Have you experienced the magic of Jack-in-the-Pulpit or carpets of Virginia Bluebells? Midwestern woodlands should be open so you can see through the trees. Birds forage from the tips of the branches to the ground layer covered with wildflowers and grasses.

Invasive plants are crowding out the native wildflowers that used to call our woodlands home. Their aggressive growth is smothering native plants and choking out the birds and animals that depend upon them. Some of the worst include:

Restoring a woodland starts with a restoration plan that evaluates the existing plant species and makes recommendations for removal or preservation. Next, an ecological contractor will map out the work and determine when restoration activities should take place to maximize their effectiveness. In winter and early spring, we cut brush and remove invasive trees. We spot-treat the cut ends to ensure these tough species won’t grow back. During the growing season, we selectively use herbicides on perennial weeds or hand pull them. In fall, we apply prescribed fire to knock back invasives and encourage native species.

By clearing a woods of invasive species, we allow life-giving light to reach the ground so native wildflowers and grasses can bounce back. We also add species back to create diversity to support wildlife. We seed with custom blends and plant plugs appropriate to the type of woods and its soils. Once a woodland has been restored to its natural beauty, maintaining it with regular stewardship is key to keeping it healthy.

Are you ready to fight the invasives and bring back the wildflowers? Contact us!

Six Essential Steps for Planning for Your Next Ecological Restoration Project

The Pizzo Group Spring Seminar Series:

Six Essential Steps for Planning for Your Next Ecological Restoration Project


Who Should Attend
The Spring Seminar Series is ideal for all landowners and land managers including HOA Board members, property managers, municipal planners and engineers, private homeowners, landscape architects, and other professionals involved in planning or the management of green and natural spaces.

What You’ll Learn
Whether you are looking to create or manage sustainable landscapes, learn restoration best management practices, manage erosion issues within an HOA, install a native buffer around a community pond, or learn about prescribed fire and other management techniques, the Spring Seminar Series presents a variety of topics aimed to educate and inform.

Sign up today.

Rain Gardens: A Sustainable Solution

Rain gardens can be a beautiful addition to your site and will attract beneficial pollinators while controlling storm water and run off. By choosing a wide range of native plants, you can enjoy flowers from spring into fall, stunning fall color and unique winter interest. You’ll also create habitat for butterflies, bees, birds, amphibians and more.


Some native plants are particularly suited to a rain garden environment where they may be inundated for periods of time and then experience drought. Deep roots hold soils in place and allow for greater drought tolerance. For a sunny raingarden, consider swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata), wild bergamont (Monarda fistulosa), swamp rose mallow (Hibiscus moscheutos), to name a few. For a shadier site, don’t forget the sedges! Their cascading foliage and handsome seed heads add dimension in a shade raingarden. Try palm sedge (Carex muskingumensis), awl-fruited sedge (Carex tribuloides) or brown fox sedge (Carex vulpinoidea).

Look for a low spot on your property where water naturally collects. Observe how water flows across your land. Sometimes a problem area near a drain or in a swale offers the perfect situation to plant a rain garden. Some questions to ask as you begin evaluating your site include:

  • Is it a sunny or shady spot?
  • Is it hidden or an area that will become a focal point?
  • Does water collect and pool for days or a few hours?

Image result for rain garden diagram

We’re ready to help! Contact us!

Controlling Muskrat and Beaver Populations

Populations of Muskrats and Beaver have been rapidly increasing across the Midwest. These wetland-loving rodents have adapted to urban and suburban sites. They are particularly destructive to engineered stormwater solutions such as retention/detention ponds.

Muskrats are named after their tendency to leave scent markers to identify their territory. They become an issue when they burrow into shorelines, loosening soil and causing erosion. They have become particularly problematic in areas with once-stable shorelines. Muskrats will readily consume water plants, eating foliage and destroying roots. They can have several litters a year.

Beaver choose sites with shrubs and trees, consuming twigs and leaves and cutting trees for their homes. They build dams and block the water course to create ponds. This can lead to flooding, extensive tree damage, and erosion. We’ve found them living in basins, blocking drainage pipes and impacting the effectiveness of engineered stormwater structures and natural areas.


The best solution to these large rodents is initial trapping to reduce the population and then maintenance trapping if they return. For Muskrat, it is important to plant the native species that they do not eat. We have a selection of unpalatable plants we can include on your site. For Beaver, it is important to clear any brush and wrap the trees with chicken wire to deny the beaver food and building materials for their lodges and dams.

If you’ve got a Muskrat or Beaver problem, we’re here to help!

IL Condo-HOA Conference & Expo 2018

2018 IL Condo-HOA Conference & Expo
Donald E. Stephens Convention Center February 23-24  – Booth #224

Stop by The Pizzo Group booth at the IL Condo-HOA Conference & Expo to learn how you can reduce soil erosion around retention ponds, increase the beauty of your neighborhood, reduce the Canada Geese population, increase water quality and lower maintenance costs.

Learn more about the conference here:

Benefits of Native Buffers

Clean, clear, healthy water makes a pond beautiful. One way to ensure pristine waters is by installing a buffer of native plants along the shoreline. Although conventional solutions like rock or turf may seem like a good way to defend your shoreline from erosion, natives offer far more tremendous benefits.

Native wildflowers, grasses and aquatic plants are uniquely suited to hold soil in place, filter unwanted pollutants, and discourage nuisance wildlife like geese.


Erosion control

The deep roots of native wildflowers and grasses hold soil in place against the damaging effects of wind, water, and ice. The shallow roots of turfgrass are easily ripped away in storms or flood events. Many native plants have root systems that reach down more than 6 feet, anchoring them in place. Aquatic plants installed in the shallow sections of your pond offer a subtle barrier against wave actions that can undermine and cut away banks.

Algae control

Algae blooms caused by too many nutrients in the water can choke out beneficial species like fish, frogs and turtles. Stormwater runoff full of pollutants and fertilizers is the biggest culprit of algae in ponds. Native plants can capture and sequester these pollutants before they reach the open water, eliminating algae and the need for expensive treatments.

Goose control

Canada geese have become so pervasive that they are a nuisance on ponds and basins. Geese prefer clear areas where they can see predators coming. Because native plants tend to be around three feet high or higher, they make geese uncomfortable. Instead of hiring a service, installing tall native species means geese will think twice before coming to your pond.

Attracting birds, butterflies, and beneficial insects

An amazing benefit to native plants is that they attract a huge range of birds, butterflies, bees and beneficial insects. Some songbirds nest in grasses and many consume the seeds of blooming plants like purple coneflower and black-eyed Susans. Milkweed and blazing star attract butterflies, bees, and predatory wasps. With a native plant buffer, you create important pollinator habitat.

Four season color and interest

Perhaps the most noticeable benefit to installing a native plant buffer is the sweeps of blooming wildflowers, the fall colors of the grasses, and the winter interest of dried seed heads and foliage. With a rich plant palette, you can enjoy flowers spring through fall. These plantings evoke the prairie heritage of Illinois and provide a sense of place

We encourage you to get out and explore these natural spaces. Discover new kinds of flowers, investigate insects, and watch for birds. Native plants not only work for you by controlling erosion, algae, and geese, they add beauty and habitat, too.