Demonstration gardens for the Illinois Schoolyard Habitat Action Grant program have been installed at the M. J. Rhymer Family Dry Grove Nature Preserve in Normal. Updates will be posted to this Web page. This project was made possible by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program, the Illinois Conservation Foundation, the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the M. J. Rhymer Family Dry Grove Nature Preserve.
Native Plants Demonstration Gardens
Native plants provide beauty as well as food and shelter for wildlife. Native plant species are adapted to the Illinois climate. They require little or no watering and are resistant to drought, insect damage and most diseases. Because they are perennials, you can welcome their presence year after year. They add interest, and often color, to gardens in all seasons. Using native plants in landscaping can provide economic, educational and environmental benefits. The demonstration gardens at M. J. Rhymer Family Dry Grove Nature Preserve help to highlight several advantages for using native plants in landscaping and for using other practices that can be easily implemented and maintained while benefitting the local environment. In May 2014, raised-bed gardens, prairie gardens and permeable pavers were installed.
Native plants in landscaping can provide economic benefits.
a. Maintenance costs are reduced by decreasing mowing, watering, fertilizing, trimming and use of pesticides.
b. The project will provide an example that can be used to stimulate an important component of the Illinois Green Industry.
Native plants in landscaping can provide environmental benefits.
a. Soil quality is improved, and soil erosion will be reduced.
b. Stormwater runoff and its impacts will be reduced.
c. Water quality will be enhanced.
d. Wildlife habitat will be restored.
Native plants in landscaping can provide educational/recreational benefits.
a. The project will provide an economically and environmentally sustainable natural landscaping model that can be emulated by citizens, private organizations, businesses and government agencies.
b. The landscaping will provide an opportunity to perform outreach and education for the general public about Illinois' natural resources, their stewardship and the value of natural landscaping.
c. Representations of Illinois' primary habitats will be developed.
d. The importance of habitat to wildlife will be promoted.
e. Volunteer opportunities will be provided for the general public, youth groups and students/teachers allowing them to see that their actions can make a difference in the world.
f. The natural landscaping will provide an opportunity to teach people techniques and skills to raise native plants in other locations and circumstances.
g. The landscaping will provide places where people can connect with nature.