Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Spring has Sprung and WE are going Greener

With the start of the gardening season and the Garden Walk just around the corner (June 26th) now is the time to consider going a little or a lot greener!

The Northcenter Neighborhood Association has created an Environmental Committee, and members of that committee, have come of with a few initiatives that we hope will tie in with members of the Garden Club!

The Green Lawn Initiative
Is an initiative to create a coalition of gardeners, neighbor - by neighbor, that are committed to creating beautiful green lawns for all (wildlife, pets, children etcetera). Once a coalition of committed gardeners grow in numbers we will be able to
  • obtain eco-friendly lawn services at a discount;
  • affect the products and techniques used in Northcenter;s parks and public spaces; and
  • ensure a clean soil and water supply for our health.
If you live within NNA's borders, register your yard with us and receive a corresponding sign to position on your lawn. For those of you that participate in the NNA's Garden Walk let show your commitment to a healthier, greener garden! Join by emailing us at and let us know what kind of lawn you have.

Organic gardening incorporates the entire landscape design and environment to improve and maximize the garden soil's health, structure, texture, as well as maximize the production and health of developing plants without using synthethic commercial fertilizers, pesticides, or fungicides.

Biodynamic gardening is a method of organic gardening that treats the landscape as a unified and individual organisms, emphasizing balancing the holistic development and interrelationship of the soil, plants and animals as a self nourishing system without external inputs. As in organic gardening, artificial fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides are strictly avoided. Methods using fermented herbal and mineral preparations are applied according to the astronomical sowing and planting calendar.

Transitional gardening means the gardener/s have chosen to adopt either Organic gardening methods or Biodynamic gardening methods. It takes 3 years for a garden to heal from conventional gardening practices to a healthy vibrant organic garden, hence the name, Transitional.

Parkway Corner Initiative
Is an initiative to create pollinator friendly parkway corner landscapes using native plant sources to create a colorful array of pesticide free, bee's, birds, butterfly and even bat friendly landscapes.

Native plants are deep-rooted plants and will also help to absorb rainwater deep into the soil versus short rooted plants/grass which have very short roots systems. Native plants can also withstand a large range of wet-to-dry conditions making these corners requiring very low maintenance.

If you live within NNA's borders and would like your corner to be beautified with attract native pollinators, email us at

The Bee Trail Project
The Bee Trail map was created in response to the devestating number of Honeybee losses since 2006. The goal of the Bee Trail Project is to protect the Honeybee (and all other native pollinators) by having as many households gardens, public spaces, schools... within 3 mile radius of a recognized hive and make those spaces bee friendly.

NNA members, gardner, beekeeper, Elizabeth Wenscott and Lisa Hish have created a unique opportunity for its residence. Both have agreed to allow our residence to be the first go "get of the map" before it goes national. For more information of The Bee Trail Project, please visit

ALSO DID YOU KNOW that Chicago is pushing to be the first major city in the U.S. to be certified as wildlife habitat friendly (food, water, cover, and places to raise young) through the National Wildlife Federation? To accomplish this goal Chicago need 1,000 residence, local schools, churches or businesses to get certified.  Gethsemane Gardens has teamed up with the NWF and is ready to help us if needed. For more information go to

These are exciting times in the Northcenter Neighborhood and we hope that spring will inspire to carry through with "Big Ideas or Little Acts."  

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Chicago Sustainable Backyard Program

Link to the Chicago Sustainable Backyard Program
2011 Sustainable Backyard Workshops
Learn how to make your back, front or side yard more environmentally sustainable. These workshops will cover the basics of installing a rain barrel, setting up a compost bin, planting a tree, planning a native garden and more. Unless noted otherwise, registration is not necessary.
2011 Sustainable Backyard Rebates
Rebate forms are available to Chicago residents for up to 50% off their next local purchase of:
TREES (up to $100 back)
NATIVE PLANTS (up to $60 back)
COMPOST BINS (up to $50 back)
RAIN BARRELS (up to $40 back)
The benefits of trees, beyond aesthetic appeal, are well documented and include the following:
  • Improved Air Quality. Trees absorb air pollutants and help reduce smog.
  • Stormwater Management. Street trees intercept and absorb rain, reducing and slowing the amount of runoff that makes its way to the sewer system.
  • Reduction of Greenhouse Gas Emissions. As a tree grows, it sequesters carbon dioxide and converts it to woody and leaf biomass.
  • Improved Wildlife Habitat. Urban forests provide food and shelter to many important native and migratory birds and animals.
  • Improved Energy Conservation. When strategically planted, trees can cut heating and air conditioning costs by providing shade and cutting the wind.
Native Midwestern plants have evolved to thrive in our natural conditions and once established, require little maintenance. Native plants are deep-rooted plants and help direct rainwater into the soil. If planted in a rain garden in conjunction with a disconnected downspout, native plants are especially effective for managing stormwater. Native plants are ideal for rain gardens because many can withstand a range of wet-to-dry conditions, and their long roots absorb more water. Plus, they are beautiful and attract birds and beneficial butterflies and insects.
Composting is a natural way to turn your fruit, vegetable, and yard waste into a dark, soil-like natural fertilizer for your garden, lawn, or indoor plants. Backyard composting helps recycle valuable organic resources, reduce air pollution from refuse trucks, and extend the life of our landfills.
Up to 40% of the water we use at home is spent on watering our lawns and gardens during hot summer months. Instead of using water from the tap, which requires energy and money to treat and deliver to our homes, we can use a rain barrel to collect and store rainwater from our roofs through a disconnected downspout.
To receive periodic updates about the program including new incentives and workshop dates, send us an email at or call us at 312.743.9283. We will automatically add you to our contact list.