Woodlands are the most revered component of our landscape. A majestic canopy of red, white, Hill’s and bur oaks along with shagbark hickory is highly prized. But below these pillars of seeming timeless strength there should be healthy understory trees including hop-hornbeam, black cherry and blue beech. The native shrub layer is extremely diverse including pagoda dogwood, ninebark and nannyberry viburnum. A healthy understory includes a diverse herbaceous layer, most spectacular in early spring when jack-in-the-pulpit, red and white trillium, trout lilies, Jacob’s ladder and may apples appear.
Today, practically all woodlands are, to one degree or another, significantly degraded. Invasive plants, practically all non-natives, now dominate. Typically all that remains of the once healthy woodland are the canopy trees and beneath the canopy are the deadly monocultures of buckthorn and honeysuckle and possibly garlic mustard, all of which prevent the regrowth of native species. Without action, we are literally witnessing the terminal phase of our oak-hickory woodlands.
Reclaiming woodlands is a specialty of Native Restoration Services. If your woodland is vulnerable to the inevitable invasion of the woody species like buckthorn and honeysuckle, or herbaceous invaders like garlic mustard, oriental bittersweet or Japanese knotweed, please give us a call.
There are numerous types of wetlands ranging from standing water in a marsh to low lying undrained areas where water is always below ground level to floodplains near streams and rivers to cattail zones surrounding ponds. And all are threatened by invasive vegetation such as reed canary grass, cattails and phragmites. Native Restoration Services is well equipped to restore threatened wetlands and has significant experience in this field of restoration
Once, the entire state of Iowa was tallgrass prairie. Over half of Illinois and Indiana were as well. Large portions of other Midwestern states were prairie. But not, after nearly two centuries of farming, less than one-tenth of one percent of the remarkable tallgrass prairie remains.
Yet in those rare remnant prairies, dedicated preservationists have painstakingly gathered seed and nurtured endangered plants, giving us the capability of reestablishing much of the famous Tallgrass Prairie from seed.
We sow these seeds and expend a good deal of effort the first three years stewarding the new seedlings until they are robust enough to fend off the challenges from the inevitable invasives attempting to re-establish a foothold. With good practices, time and patience, a beautiful prairie emerges.
A savanna is a transition between woodland and prairie. Given time, most savannas will eventually become one or the other. We love savannas, with open grassy areas dotted with majestic, open-grown oaks - typically bur - one of the most stately of all trees.
Savannas have their own set of invasive threats. The tall native grasses can become infested with reed canary grass, a particularly difficult invasive plant to conquer. Gathering beneath the stately oaks are the ever present buckthorn. The list goes on. We are committed to preserving savannas and, if conditions are right, occasionally creating them as well.
Ravines and Bluffs
The ravines and bluffs along the western shore of Lake Michigan, between Wilmette and Zion, IL, are a unique mini-ecosystem. There is nothing exactly like them anywhere in the world. But the pressures of population density and inadequate storm water mater management along with the invasion of non-native dense shade producing trees has caused the ravines to deteriorate more in the past 100 years than the previous 10,000! Can it be stopped? Absolutely! But not without close teamwork between the landowner and an expert at correcting existing problems. Steep slope restoration is one of our specialties. We use cutting edge technologies to stabilize deteriorating slopes and after describing our approach to a prospective client, he said: “You mean I’m not going to lose my home?”
Ravine and bluff restoration is exacting and rewarding work. If you think you have a steep-slope erosion problem, please contact us as soon as possible. Time is much more of an enemy here than in any other type of restoration.
Of the twenty-two counties that make up the Chicago Region, eight touch Lake Michigan. All have at the very least, sandy landscapes and many have dunes with Indiana’s being the most famous. They also have unique plants such as marram grass, Waukegan juniper, buffalo berry, black oak and quaking aspen, to name a few. Management of invasive black locust, goutweed, Japanese knotweed are common problems on beachfronts and dunes. Managing foot traffic and re-establishing native vegetation are primary challenges here.