Plant Identification Training July 2018

Plant Identification Training

Thursday, July 12th from 9:00 am to 3:30 pm – Leland, IL

Wednesday, July 18th from 9:00 am to 3:30 pm – Shabbona and Leland, 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.

Spring Planning for Fall Burns

In the midst of spring, you might not think of autumn and the controlled burn season. However, spring is the perfect time to plan for your fall prescribed fire project. With permitting taking up to 90 days, it’s a good idea to get a jump on the process.

Why prescribed fire?

  • Control weedy tree and shrub saplings, some invasive plants, and clean up the site for ease of control later in the season.
  • Stimulate the growth of native plants by getting sunlight to the soil and encouraging greater diversity of plants, insects, and animals.
  • Kills ticks.

The Illinois Prescribed Fire Council recently completed a study finding that in Illinois, not enough natural areas are being burned and those that are should be burned more frequently. With proper management using controlled burns as one of the tools, our natural areas become more rich and vibrant.

At The Pizzo Group, safety is our top priority! We don’t cut corners when it comes to the welfare of people and property. Every crew member and supervisor is trained and certified.

  • All Illinois burn sites must have an Illinois EPA Open Burn Permit. Let us handle your paperwork!
  • Burn permits average 30 to 90 days for processing. NOW is the time to start the process.
  • A map of the burn area must be submitted with the application. A site visit is a required element of any burn plan.
  • Our companies are licensed and insured.
  • All projects are supervised by a Certified Prescribed Burn Manager who carries out the actual burn in addition to managing the site’s Burn Plan.

Let’s plan your prescribed fire today!

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!