2625 Butterfield Rd. Ste 104S
Oak Brook, Illinois 60523
Phone 630-472-2851
Fax 630-472-3150


Natural Lawn Care for Landscape Professionals and Municipalities

4 presentations that were not included in the conference binder have been posted to the website. All other materials were in the conference binder. These will be posted for two weeks. Below are presentation materials for:

Horticultural Practices for Natural Lawns

Transitioning to Natural Lawn Care – Common Challenges and Solutions

Closing the Sale – Marketing ‘Natural’ to Customers & Expanding Your Business

A one-day workshop on techniques, products, and resources. Don't miss out on this opportunity to implement a natural lawn care program successfully and cost-effectively.

Presented by:

  • Illinois Landscape Contractors Association (ILCA)
  • Midwest Ecological Landscaping Association (MELA)
  • Safer Pest Control Project (SPCP)
  • Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP)
  • Sea Grant Great Lakes Network
  • University of Illinois Extension

Hosted by:

  • Oakton Community College, Des Plaines, IL

Quick Links:

March 23, 2011
Oakton Community College
1600 East Golf Road
Des Plaines, IL 60016
8am - 4:00pm
Attendees should park in Parking Lot D. Parking is free. Once inside the building, follow signage to rooms 1606 and 1608.

Six organizations have come together to present this comprehensive workshop on natural lawn care techniques, products and resources. This workshop is partially funded by a grant from the U.S. EPA’s Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, in order to promote and implement lawn and landscape practices that reduce inputs of pesticides and other harmful substances into the Great Lakes.

Workshop Agenda:

All Attendees
Registration and Coffee
Chip Osborne, Osborne Organics, Richard Hentschel, U of I Extension, Q & A
Chip Osborne, Osborne Organics, Richard Hentschel, U of I Extension, Q & A
Chip Osborne, Osborne Organics, Christine Nye, Shedd Aquarium
Break and Survey
TRACK ONE: Implementing Natural Lawn Care on Your Property
(attendees choose one track)
Chip Osborne, Osborne Organics
Laura Killian, Lake Champlain Sea Grant, Mike Nowak, "The Mike Nowak Show"
TRACK TWO: Running a Natural Lawn Care Business
(attendees choose one track)
Chip Osborne, Osborne Organics
All Attendees



Gold Sponsor


Gold Sponsor


Gold Sponsor

Schafer Fisheries


Standard Sponsors


Partners, Inc.


Russo Power Equipment

Session Descriptions:

Introduction & Welcome—The Advantages of Natural Lawn Care
The six partner organizations will welcome attendees to the program and provide an overview of the day's events.

Sustainability in the Landscape: Putting Natural Lawns Into Perspective
After years of research and field trials, natural lawn care is now a viable alternative and proven turf management method. It can create healthy lawns while effectively addressing weed, disease and pest pressures before they become problematic. Yet, WCPT Radio's Mike Nowak sees a disconnect between this and the so-called traditional approach, not just in the average home, but in the green industry, too. Mike puts his unique, humorous spin on the journey towards sustainability and just who is joining us for the ride.

It’s All in the Soil: Soil Biology, Grasses and Amendment
What’s the main difference between a healthy lawn and an unhealthy one? It’s all about the soil. You can’t have a natural lawn without fabulous soil. Disease and pests are a symptom of greater underlying problems that indicate an imbalance in the soil. Learn what these symptoms are telling you about the condition of the turf, and ways to prevent them. Chip Osborne and Richard Hentschel will walk you through a discussion of healthy soil conditions, how the soil food web affects turf, what soil conditioners to use and how this approach will benefit the lawn. In addition, Richard will lead a discussion on the newly passed law that regulates the use of phosphorus on lawns.

A lawn is only as good as the quality of its soil. Soils, microbes, insects and grass all work together to create a healthy lawn system to produce a healthy lawn ecosystem. All of the components in a healthy lawn work together to determine lawn quality. Learn which grasses work best under different lawn conditions, and how to stimulate the lawn ecosystem to produce exactly the kind turf desired.

Horticultural Practices for Natural Lawns
The biggest misconception of natural lawn care is that it is a ‘do nothing’ approach. In fact natural lawns require maintenance just like any other lawn. Natural lawns often fail because people neglect to follow specific techniques in the culture and care of the lawn. Nobody understands this better than Chip Osborne. Different practices are required to produce a lush lawn under a natural program. Learn how to achieve success and reduce costly inputs over time. Richard Hentschel joins the conversation to kick in a Midwestern perspective on what the challenges are here in Illinois.

Transitioning to Natural Lawn Care-Common Challenges and Solutions

You or your client has committed to making the switch. What are the next steps to transitioning to a successful program? Chip will discuss some of the greatest challenges you can expect in the process from your customers and your turf. Christine Nye, Horticulture Manager of the Shedd Aquarium, will share her firsthand experience maintaining one of the City’s most prominent lawns with Natural Lawn Care. Come away inspired and ready for the challenge.

Q&A with the Product Experts at Lunch
Experts will answer your questions about natural lawn care products, application and practices for optimal performance.

TRACK ONE: Implementing Natural Lawn Care on Your Property
(attendees choose one track)

Working with Budgets-Saving Money and ROI
Chip Osborne has seen the impact of budget cuts on turf maintenance and knows how to create a program that is cost effective. He will present models for implementing natural lawn care on school and park grounds with real world pricing at the heart of his analysis. This session will show you how to prioritize fields and maintenance protocols to achieve the desired level of turf quality.

Messages That Work-Overcoming Resistance and Getting Public Buy In
Laura Killian comes to us from Vermont in her capacity as a Land Use Planner & Water Quality Educator for the Lake Champlain Seat Grant and as a partner in the Great Lakes Regional Initiative Partnership. She brings to the table an understanding of the typical barriers involved in getting people on board a Natural Lawn Care Program. Laura will address what Vermont has done to market their natural lawn care program and how the program addressed resistance to it. Mike Nowak, with over 13 years on the radio in Chicago, has listened to average homeowners, who often want to lessen their environmental impact, only to trip over their goal of having a "perfect lawn." Participants will gain an understanding of how to communicate a message that creates a call to action.

TRACK TWO: Running a Natural Lawn Care Business
(attendees choose one track)

Closing the Sale-Marketing ‘Natural’ to Customers and Expanding your Business
Natural lawn care done right will differentiate you from the crowd, build loyal customers and improve your bottom line.  Steve Neumann, owner of Logic Lawn Care, will walk you through proven strategies for marketing natural lawn care services to customers and, most importantly, keeping them for the long term.  He will look at “Who is the natural lawn care customer?” and how to effectively communicate and manage customer expectations.  By looking at real life examples, discover how your messaging, program customization and your “tool box” can be the difference between success and failure.   

Creating a Profitable Program—Costs & Margins Compared
Session description forthcoming


Contract Specifications and Performance
Session description forthcoming

$125 ILCA or MELA members
$125 Government, non-profit, municipal, park district, property and HOA managers, etc.
$150 Non-members
$100: +3 Option - Each attendee is $100 apiece when three or more members of the same organization register together.

Online Registration
Printable Registration Form (PDF)

This class is worth 8 hours of instruction that may be used for continuing education units (CEUs) for the Certified Landscape Technician-Landscape Industry Certified program.

Sponsorship Information:
If you provide products or services related to natural lawn care, the audience will be full of current and potential customers.

Download the Sponsorship Form

Directions and Interactive Map:
Attendees should park in Parking Lot D. Parking is free. Once inside the building, follow signage to rooms 1606 and 1608.
Coming in from out of town? Here is a link to an interactive map of the area:

Contact Scott Grams at 63
0.472.2851 or by email


Scott Grams – Executive Director, Illinois Landscape Contractors Association
Scott Grams has been the Executive Director of the Illinois Landscape Contractors Association since June 1, 2008. Prior to joining ILCA he was the Executive Director of the GIS Certification Institute (GISCI) and Education Director for the Urban and Regional Information Systems Association (URISA) in Park Ridge, IL. Grams began his Association Management career as an employee of the Illinois Road and Transportation Builders Association. Scott graduated from Purdue University in 1999 with a BA in Public Communication and a minor in Political Science. In 2004, he earned his Master’s Degree in Communication from Northwestern University in Evanston, IL. Grams is married to his wife Karla and has one daughter (Zoe).

Carol Becker – Executive Director, Midwest Ecological Landscaping Association
Carol Becker has been a non-profit and business consultant her entire career, specializing in planning, marketing communication, media relations, resource development and team building. She was named MELA’s first Executive Director in April 2009, after serving on the Board of Directors for 4 years.

Carol is a graduate of Ohio State University, where she received her Master's degree in English, with a specialty in English language. In 2005, she received her AAS Degree in Ornamental Horticulture and Landscape Design from Triton College.

Her previous experience includes two years at Resurrection Health Care, where she assisted Chicago’s largest Catholic health care system in reorganizing their foundation. Prior to that time, she worked with Growth Design Corporation, based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, a consulting firm serving not-for-profit organizations in health care, the arts, social service and higher education. Carol has published many newspaper and magazine articles, as well as two books on leadership and team development.

Susan Ask-- Watershed Specialist, Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant

Susan Ask is a watershed specialist with Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant at the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign. As co-creator of the Lawn to Lake program for the Great Lakes, she develops training and outreach programs to foster landscaping practices that prevent water pollution.

For more than 20 years, Susan has been exploring the relationship between the built environment and the natural environment—as a scientist, teacher and land manager. She practices healthy landscape techniques in her own yard and as a community gardener in Chicago.

Susan has a master's degree in Ecosystem Science and Management from Yale University— where she received the American Lawn Fellowship from the authors of ‘Redesigning the American Lawn’—and a bachelor's degree in Environmental Studies from the University of Kansas.

Rachel Rosenberg – Executive Director, Safer Pest Control Project
Rachel Rosenberg has served as Executive Director of SPCP since 2003. Ms. Rosenberg has over 25 years of experience in non-profit management, including a Master’s degree from New York University in non-profit administration, and an undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan. Her diverse work experience as a non-profit executive includes six years as the Director of Public Affairs at the School of Speech at Northwestern University. She was on the forefront of the organic lawn care movement in 1999 when she started one of the area’s first organic lawn care companies called Sunflower Lawncare. After working directly in the field for three years with homeowners, she decided that she needed to work towards changing the industry in a broader way by engaging and working with industry professionals, municipalities and public education to promote Natural Lawn Care.

Mike Nowak – "The Mike Nowak Show," WCPT820 AM, Chicago
Mike Nowak is host of the aptly-named “The Mike Nowak Show,” Sundays from 9 to 11am on Chicago’s Progressive Talk, WCPT 820AM and 92.5, 92.7 and 99.9 FM. For a decade before coming to WCPT, he was the host of WGN Radio's “Let's Talk Gardening” and has appeared on WGN-TV Channel 9, CBS 2 Chicago and the DIY Network. He is also a writer and award-winning columnist for Chicagoland Gardening Magazine.

Mike is an Illinois Master Gardener and Openlands TreeKeeper. In 2002, he co-founded the Midwest Ecological Landscaping Association and served as MELA's president for four years.
He is president of the Chicago Recycling Coalition and part of the Speakers Network for, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting natural lawn care and grounds maintenance.

In another environment, Mike is 33-year veteran of the Chicago stage, having received awards for acting, directing and writing. For more information about Mike, his show and his other ventures, go to

Chip Osborne – President, Osborne Organics
Chip Osborne is a professional horticulturist with over 30 years experience and an expert on building and transitioning turf to organic care. He is accredited by the Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA) in organic land care, and has attended the University of Massachusetts Green School for turf management. He converted his retail greenhouse operation to an organic management plan, designed and constructed Marblehead’s Living Lawn Demonstration site, and, as the elected Chairman of the Town of Marblehead, Recreation, Parks & Forestry Commission, is currently implementing an Organic Turf Management Plan for the town’s public lands, including all athletic fields.

Chip lectures nationwide on natural turf management, both to homeowners and municipalities, and has addressed the National Sports Turf Managers Association.

Richard Hentschel – Extension Specialist Green Industry Programming, University Of Illinois
Hentschel graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a bachelor’s degree in ornamental horticulture and a master’s degree in horticulture focusing on Plant Pathology and Plant Physiology.

He joined Extension as an Educator in horticulture in Rock Island County, moving on to Kane County. From there Hentschel managed a not-for-profit Trade Association for pickled vegetables before returning to Extension in his current position. Richard currently serves the northeast region of Illinois working with many green industry associations throughout Illinois. Hentschel serves as a liaison between those groups and the University of Illinois. Other projects include the promotion of horticulture as a career choice through High School, Junior and Community College and four year school programs and educational efforts supporting management strategies for the Emerald Ash Borer in Northern Illinois.
His office is located in the Midwest Golf House Complex, where several different green industry groups are located. Richard lives in Aurora.

Laura Killian – Water Quality Educator, Lake Champlain Sea Grant, University of Vermont
Working for the Lake Champlain Sea Grant, Laura is responsible for developing and implementing ecosystem-based approaches for the health of Lake Champlain. She collaborates with municipalities, planners, homeowners, businesses and students to promote low impact development (LID) strategies to reduce stormwater runoff. She is currently working with the State of Vermont to draft a state-wide marketing plan for LID and is working with the Great Lakes Regional Initiative Partnership to develop a natural lawn care pilot and retail education program. Laura holds a MA in Environmental Science & Community Development from Antioch University in Seattle and focused her undergraduate work in cross-cultural approaches to natural resource management.

Steve Neumann – Co-Founder, Logic Lawn Care

Steve Neumann, co-founder of Logic Lawn Care, has spent the last three years marketing sustainable lawn care services to Chicago and the North Shore.  Logic Lawn Care is located in Evanston and provides weekly maintenance and fertilization services to residential and commercial customers.  Their sustainable approach includes using electric equipment, incorporating renewable energy, composting yard waste materials onsite, and natural lawn care.

After leaving Corporate America in 2007, Steve and his wife Betsy, their 3 boys and new puppy rented an RV and traveled around the country for seven months.  It was on this journey that Steve and Betsy decided to open a sustainable lawn care business.  Steve draws from his 15 years of sales and marketing experience in the financial industry to find creative ways to market Logic Lawn Care’s services to a range of residential and commercial customers.  Steve is committed to education and sharing what he has learned to help other lawn care and maintenance companies incorporate sustainable practices, technology and natural lawn care into their services. 

Tom Lupfer – Owner and Founder, Lupfer Landscaping
Tom Lupfer, founder of Lupfer Landscaping, was born and raised in Western Springs, Illinois.  He attended Northwestern University where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree.  After spending the next three years in the political arena and finding little satisfaction in the work, Tom decided to return to his roots, landscaping.  In fact, he started in grade school pushing a lawn-boy for his brother and it progressed from there.  This lifelong experience in the industry gave him the knowledge necessary to start Lupfer Landscaping in 1995.  Tom prides himself on being a leader in the landscape industry and regularly conducts and attends continuing education seminars.  In 2007, he received his PLANET Certified Landscape Technician’s certificate, a nationally recognized standard of excellence.  Lupfer Landscaping has won multiple Gold awards for both Sustainable Landscape Construct and Maintenance.  Tom serves as Chairman for the Sustainable Landscaping Committee for ILCA, sits on the Sustainable Landscape Resources for Community Associations Advisory Board (SLRCA) at the Morton Arboretum, and is a Pilot Project Recipient for the Sustainable Sites Initiative.

Christine Nye – Horticultural Manager, The Shedd Aquarium

Christine Nye has been the horticultural manager at Shedd Aquarium since 1998. She began working inside the Aquarium on exhibit spaces with animals, so it was a natural transition to take organic practices to the care of the grounds. She has transformed the gardens by using pesticide and chemical-free techniques and sustainable methods to develop the four acres surrounding the Aquarium.



© Copyright, 2015, Illinois Landscape Contractors Association - Serving Landscape Contractors Since 1959