Invasive Species Hub

Find resources for homeowners, volunteers, and land managers managing invasive woody plants.

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Invasive plants cause major problems; learn how to manage them effectively.

Invasive woody plants make up more than 45% of the trees in our region. Check out our resources for information on how to identify, eradicate, and replant after managing land with invasive plants.

Having invasive plants on your property can be overwhelming. The curated resources presented here will help break down the project of managing and eradicating invasive species into bitesize tasks.

Identification and background information

Removal and treatment

Choosing replacement plants

Where to find replacement plants

Get recognized for your efforts

Financial support for restoration

Education and training

Volunteer opportunities

Identify the invasive woody plants on your land.

Before you can work on removing and replacing the invasives in your yard, it is critical to be able to properly identify them. These resources will help you identify common invasive shrubs and trees  in northern Illinois and beyond.

Common Buckthorn (Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources)

Identification and control of woody invasive species in fall and winter,” (Chris Evans, Illinois Wildlife Action Plan, Invasive Species Campaign) Invasive Species Awareness Month blog post

iNaturalist and Seek app (iNaturalist) These apps can be used to identify and track the plants and animals you see, with verification from other app users.

Management of Invasive Pests and Diseases guide (The Morton Arboretum)

The Plant Clinic (The Morton Arboretum) Call or email to get confirmation on plant identification.

Vegetation Management Guideline: Bush Honeysuckles (University of Illinois Extension)

Find expert advice on invasive woody plant control measures.

Once you know which invasive woody plants are on your land, the links below can help you identify effective strategies for eradicating them. Treatment of invasive plants is a multiyear process and should be done carefully according to national standards.

Best Management Practices: Oak Ecosystem Restoration, Regeneration, and Maintenance (Chicago Region Trees Initiative, The Morton Arboretum)

How to Manage Buckthorn Video (University of Minnesota Extension)

Remove the Buckthorn” Conserve Lake County (Openlands) This handy piece offers advice on how to remove buckthorn yourself and how to hire a professional.

Vegetation Management Guide: Japanese Honeysuckle Lonicera japonica Thunb. (Illinois Department of Natural Resources)

What You Can Do to Control Buckthorn (Minnesota Department of Natural Resources)

Winter Control of Buckthorn Video (University of Minnesota Extension)

Once you’ve successfully and sustainably removed your invasive species, the fun can begin!

Choosing replacement species can be the perfect reward for the hard work of managing invasive woody species. The resources below provide examples.

Healthy Habitats Brochure Series (Chicago Region Trees Initiatve) This series of handout materials, including brochures and a poster, provide advice on native and nonnative plants that make great hedges, screens, and border plants, plus advice on sustainably managing small and large properties.

Online Tree Selector (The Morton Arboretum) This online tool helps you search for landscaping plants to learn about growth habit and preferred growing conditions.

Selecting Shrubs for Your Home (University of Illinois Extension) This interactive guide helps you identify the right shrub for your site.

After selecting the plants that suit your growing location, check out these tips for finding them locally.

The links below offer ways to find local nurseries,  garden centers, plant sales, and even free trees.

Find it Locally webpage (Illinois Green Industry Association) This online tool helps you find local green professionals, including garden centers. Enter your location then select which type of green businesses you’re looking for to get a map of options.

Native Plant Sales (Illinois Native Plant Society) This listing of native plant sales in Illinois is a good source for replacing the invasive plants in your backyard and growing a healthier yard.

Restore the Canopy Plant A Tree program (Metropolitan Water Reclamation District) Free native trees are available for pickup  in Cook County at MWRD facilities during the growing season.

Congratulations! The invasives are out, the beneficial plants are in, and it’s time to share your success story.

As you make progress in your yard, don’t forget to give yourself a pat on the back! You deserve some kudos, and your neighbors will benefit from  learning about your efforts. The programs linked below will help you get some recognition for your backyard accomplishments.

Chicago Living Corridors This ambitious project invites folks to add their address to an online map to work toward corridors of ecologically sustainable yards. Add your property to the map!

Conservation@Home programs There’s a Conservation@Home program in every county. Check here to find yours.

Land management can get expensive. Here are some resources that may offset costs.

Whether you’re working on a management plan, clearing invasives, or purchasing and planting replacement plants, restoration costs can add up. The grants and tax incentive programs below may be the support that keeps your project on track.

IDNR Illinois Schoolyard Habitat Action Grant offers funding for native gardens on school campuses.

The Conservation Stewardship Program offers tax incentives for restoration on five acres or more.

Take classes to learn land management skills.

Sometimes the nudge you need is just a bit more training from local professionals. Fortunately, the land management professionals in the Chicago region are generous with their knowledge. The programs linked below are a sampling of the great content to those seeking new skills.

Conservation Corps Program: partnership with nonprofit organizations and the City of Chicago’s Department of Transportation, these programs train and mobilize over 300 paid high school youth and adults each year to restore natural areas for the benefit of Cook County’s plants, animals and people.

Educational webinars (The Conservation Foundation)

Greencorps Chicago (City of Chicago) The City of Chicago’s green-industry employment program with on-the-job training in establishing, maintaining, and restoring natural and public spaces for individuals with barriers to employment.

Illinois Master Naturalist Program (University of Illinois Extension)

List of local prescribed burn trainings (Illinois Prescribed Fire Council)

Local forest preserve or conservation district: Most of these organizations have a wide range of workshops and training.

Natural Areas Conservation Training (N-ACT) Program (The Morton Arboretum) This is an in-depth training and certification program in natural areas restoration.

Sometimes skills are best learned through experience.

There are numerous volunteer opportunities in the Chicago region where knowledgeable stewards are eager to share their experience with budding land managers. The organizations below use volunteers; so do local sites such as park districts.

Cook County

Barrington Area Community Trust

Chicago Park District Community Stewardship Program

Forest Preserves of Cook County

Friends of the Forest Preserve

Friends of the Chicago River

Hazel Crest Open Lands

DuPage County

Forest Preserve District of DuPage County

Kane County

Forest Preserve District of Kane County

Kendall County

Kendall County Forest Preserve District

Lake County

Lake County Forest Preserves

Lake Forest Open Lands Association

McHenry County

McHenry County Conservation District

Will County

Forest Preserve District of Will County


The Conservation Foundation—primarily DuPage, Kane, Kendall, and Will Counties