a garden with a Conservation@Home sign

Through the Conservation@Home program, residents of Cook County are encouraged to adopt “Forest Preserves Friendly” practices while providing wildlife and native plant habitat in residential, school and workplace gardens.

On this page:

Program Overview

Residents, schools, churches and businesses can earn a Conservation@Home certification and sign for their yard by filling out an application, meeting easy-to-follow criteria, and inviting a Conservation@Home evaluator to their yard for an evaluation. The criteria include:

  • Property features native plants
  • Owner/community is actively working on the removal of invasive species
  • Plantings and management practices attract wildlife
  • Water conservation practiced with rain barrels or rain gardens, if applicable
  • Minimal use of chemicals and/or use of organic fertilizers
  • Community and school gardens provide a place for gathering and learning

Typically gardens with native flowers, grasses, shrubs and trees attract more colorful birds and butterflies. These native plantings also provide an array of colors and dimension to a garden and will tolerate droughts, lessening the need to water.

Public programs will be offered throughout the Forest Preserves that provide opportunities for people to learn about the program and how simple efforts benefit native plants and animals.

Conservation@Home is a program of The Conservation Foundation and coordinated in partnership with University of Illinois Extension. Conservation@Home is available in the Barrington area through a partnership with the Barrington Area Conservation Trust.

Have Your Land Evaluated

For a one-time fee of $50, certified residents, schools, churches and business will receive a Conservation@Home sign to post on their property, receive early notifications of upcoming Conservation@Home programs in the Forest Preserves, as well as a seasonal newsletter.

Fee waivers are available for those with financial need.

Individual Yards & Gardens

For individuals requesting evaluation of their private yards and gardens. 

School Properties

For representatives requesting evaluation of schools in Chicago and suburban Cook County.

Community Spaces

For representatives requesting evaluation of shared community spaces in Chicago and suburban Cook County.