Garden Design

Selecting Plants

Plant Selection Guides from Red Oak Rain Garden: Brochures with plant recommendations and design plans for a variety of sites, including full sun, shade, wet, and dry conditions. Resources provide images of plants in all four seasons and information on which types of pollinators they attract.

Native Plants for Container Gardening: Learn how to grow native plants in containers - perfect if you have limited space!

Pollinator Plants for the Herb Garden: Find recommended plants to add to your herb garden to attract pollinators.

Salt-Tolerant Native Plants: Discover plants that can handle salt runoff from adjoining driveways, sidewalks, and roads.

Aggressive Native Plants: Not all native plants are recommended for new gardens, as some tend to dominate and out-compete other species. These plants are not invasive and certainly have a place in native landscapes, but require extra vigilance to curb rapid spreading.

Trees and Shrubs

Healthy Hedges: Chicago Region Tree Initiative’s recommended privacy screen replacements, following removal of invasive woody species.

Native Trees and Shrubs for Supporting Pollinators: Recommended trees and shrubs for the Midwest, provided by Heather Holm, pollinator conservationist.

Selecting and Planting Trees: This handbook from the Morton Arboretum will guide you through selecting which trees to plant, where to place them, and how to set them up for healthy growth.


Simplifying Municipal Codes for Gardeners: Municipal regulations can be difficult for gardeners to untangle. This resource provides basic vocabulary and common guidelines to help make them easier to understand.


Plant Resources & Sourcing

Native Plant Resources: Websites for researching plants, and local and regional native plant vendors.

Native Plant Sales:

2024 Chicagoland Native Plant Sales:

2024 Chicagoland Native Plant Sales - List

Statewide Plant Sales:

Illinois Native Plant Society lists state-wide plant sales

Native Plant Garden Grants
Possibility Place Nursery has compiled a list of native plant garden grants.

The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD) has an amazing initiative where Cook County residents can take a pledge to plant wildflowers, and in exchange, they will receive a free wildflower seed packet in the mail. Take the pledge and receive your own wildflower seeds to benefit your community.

Seed Swaps

2024 Chicagoland Seed Swaps:

2024 Chicagoland Seed Swaps - List

If you would like for Illinois Extension in Cook County to share your local native plant sale information, please email Elizabeth McDermott at
Virginia bluebell flowers.
Virginia bluebells (Mertensia virginica)
Purple coneflowers in a garden.
Purple coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea)
Illinois bundleflower in the spring
Illinois bundleflower (Desmanthus illinoensis)