Natural areas

The Arboretum's 1700 acres are comprised of woodlands, six lakes, four marshes, a brook, the East Branch of the DuPage River, and the 100-acre Schulenberg Prairie. Volunteers help maintain all of these areas, with activities ranging from removing invasive plants and brush to collecting seeds, planting plugs and saplings, and keeping trails cleared for visitors.

Invasive Plant Removal

Invasive plants grow and spread rapidly, crowding out native trees, wildflowers, and plants we want to establish in collections areas. Several groups tackle these invasive plants to remove them with hand saws, loppers, or other hand tools from our East Woods and collections area. Volunteers in good physical condition, able to navigate uneven terrain and work in all weather conditions are welcome to join a group.

Weekday invasive plant removal groups include:

  • Invasive Plant Task Force
    (Tuesday morning 9:00–11:30 a.m.)
  • Heritage Trail Volunteers
    (Friday morning 8:30–11:30 a.m.)

Meadow Lake

Volunteers meet on Tuesdays (either 8:30–11:30 a.m. or 12:45–3:00 p.m.). Restoration work includes planting plugs, wading or using boats to weed aquatic plants, algae control, and weeding plants along the banks of Meadow Lake or other lakes in the Arboretum.

Prairie Volunteers

You can wind down from a busy day by joining 30–40 avid prairie maintenance volunteers in the 100-acre Schulenberg Prairie. Volunteers keep prairie trails from being overgrown, remove invasive plants, collect seed, and end each evening with a prairie walk to learn the plants that have bloomed each week. Shift times are 6:30–dusk on Tuesday evenings from mid-May through mid-August.

Weekend Warriors

This is a good opportunity year-around to enjoy a good workout by removing invasive buckthorn and honeysuckle from collections areas and the East Woods. Volunteers use hand saws and loppers to cut the brush, then drag it to areas where it can be chipped for use on the Arboretum's walking trails.

Saturday workdays include:

  • Weekend Warriors
    (first Saturday of each month 8:30–11:30 a.m.)