Red Stem Native Landscapes blends principles of good design with knowledge of soils, hydrology, light conditions, and native plants to create unique and beautiful gardens full of life that are ever-changing. 

Whether we’re doing a rain garden with water from a downspout or a series of gardens across acres, Red Stem aims to ensure that our client is delighted with our work.  

We love creating gardens and outdoor spaces that showcase the beauty and power of our native trees, shrubs, vines, and wildflowers. We’re thrilled when we hear there were 37 bird species in a city backyard garden over the course of a summer, or that the owl living in a tree along a suburban pond is raising a clutch. We hear these stories all the time because that’s what happens when you provide native habitat. 

A garden built with native plants offers many benefits for people and the environment, including: 

Water management and purification. Once established, native wildflowers and grasses need no watering in dry areas. In wet areas, the combined taproots and fibrous roots of a well-planted native garden absorb and draw water down to the water table, cleaning it as it goes, instead of allowing it to run off. A well-planned rain garden will keep water out of foundations and reduce the flooding that plagues so many properties today.

Soil recovery. Native gardens require none of the petroleum-based fertilizers and harsh chemical treatments that harm wildlife and the microbiology of our soils. The root systems create a living network in symbiosis with soil organisms, building the soil as they live, grow, and die. Prairie plant roots, after all, are why our region’s soils were found to be among the richest in the world, once a plow was developed that could “break” the prairie and clear it for agriculture.

Carbon sequestration. The roots of native prairie plants pull the carbon used in photosynthesis down into the soil as their deep root systems develop, enriching the soil while cleansing the air. 

Wildlife habitat. A garden of lawn and imported plants is a desert to a majority of our native insects. And birds, which require insect protein to raise their broods, also suffer in the absence of native plants. Native gardens are full of life. We celebrate the bit of nibbling these creatures do. It means our gardens are a functioning part of the ecosystem!


Monica Buckley, owner of Red Stem Native Landscapes, spent most of her childhood summers playing near her Chicago home where giant silk moths emerged from homely brown cocoons, yellow tiger swallowtail butterflies graced the treetops, and beautiful songbirds dive bombed for caterpillars. Life would take Monica into the world of publishing for many years until her passion for native gardens and the wildlife they support demanded her full attention and she opened Red Stem in 2013.