Meadow Mix Can Help Save Monarch Butterfly, Other Pollinators

Meadow Mix Can Help Save Monarch Butterfly, Other Pollinators

The varied hues of red, yellow, green and purple of native Illinois plants swaying across a business campus or along the roadside can have a calming effect when compared to an open field of, well, just grass.

The Conservation Foundation has partnered with three local environmental companies to help businesses, parks, and highway departments minimize maintenance costs on landscaped areas by replacing traditional turf with native perennial grasses and colorful flowering plants.

It’s called The Conservation Foundation’s Pollinator Meadow Mix and contains a mixture of short-growing perennial flowers, grasses and sedges, and buffalo grass that are native to Illinois. It was developed in partnership with The Pizzo Group, Applied Ecological Services, and Cardno.

Along with the ecological benefits, Meadow Mix is sustainable, meaning that once established, the natural prairie doesn’t need to be watered or fertilized. Low maintenance translates to significant cost savings.

“The decline of the pollinators has been directly linked to reduced habitat and pesticide use,” Conservation Foundation Land Preservation Specialist Jim Kleinwachter said. “The cost of maintaining turf grass is extremely high. And it doesn’t provide any value for wildlife, has very little water holding capacity, and produces no crop.”

Kleinwachter said the blend is designed to support the threatened Monarch Butterfly as well as many other pollinator species.

The colorful landscape increases habitat for a diverse number of native creatures, eases flooding with increased water absorption, reduces fossil fuels burned (gasoline) with less mowing, and limits the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere.

A sustainable native landscape such as this also is suitable for common areas in subdivisions, reducing homeowner association maintenance costs while adding a beautiful view to the neighborhood.

Businesses and municipalities that plant The Conservation Foundation’s Pollinator Meadow Mix will be eligible for Conservation@Work certification, another Conservation Foundation program.

It is recommended that the mix be professionally installed and maintained for the first two years as the plants get established. The seeding area will have a small bloom after one year as native plants build root systems, and should be fully matured and in full bloom by the third year.

Ongoing maintenance still is needed, but at a significant cost reduction compared to that of grass turf.

The Conservation Foundation’s Pollinator Meadow Mix is ideal for corporate campuses, parks, churches, common areas and municipal sites.

For more information, contact Jim Kleinwachter at (630) 428-4500, Ext. 115 or email

The Conservation Foundation is one of the region’s largest and oldest private conservation organizations — with more than 4,000 members and donors, and more than 500 volunteers who contribute 20,000 hours per year.

Work is focused in DuPage, Kane, Kendall and Will Counties to preserve and restore nature in your neighborhood. Find out more at