Educatiion and rebates available through Chicago Sustainable Backyards Program

As residents work toward  being sustainable in their gardens, there are educational opportunities in addition to rebates for compost bins, rain barrels, native plants and trees through Chicago's Sustainable Backyards program. For the first time,churches, schools and community gardens are eligible for rebates this year.

Sustainable Backyards Workshops
The "why" and "how-to" of rain barrels, outdoor composting, trees and native plants for residential use will be covered. Participants will also receive an overview of the Chicago Sustainable Backyards Program, including how Chicago residents can receive rebates for purchasing trees, native plants, rain barrels or compost bins.
Hours: 6 - 8 p.m.
Price: Free, register please
Location: Chicago Center for Green Technology, 445 N. Sacramento Blvd.

While the City will no longer sell subsidized rain barrels or compost bins, they are providing for rebates based on a value that has been determined based on the ecosystem services provided by each product. Ecosystem services are defined as the additional benefits of healthy ecosystems which include storm water management, improved air quality and improved human health.

Trees, for example, provide many quality of life benefits. Each tree is estimated to be valued at approximately $1,200 over the tree's life, based on the ecosystem systems' services. Rebates to Chicago residents are up to 50% off purchase of: trees (maximum of $100), native plants (maximum $60), rain barrels (maximum $40) and compost bins (maximum $50).

Tree rebates are not available for certain invasive species. They are:

  • Amur Corktree (Phelloderdron amurense)
  • Ash (Fraxinus spp.)
  • Callery Pear (Pyrus calleryana)
  • Japenese Barberry (Berberis thunbergii)
  • Japanese Corktree (Phellodendron japonica)
  • Norway Maple (Acer Platanoides)
  • Princess Tree (Paulownia tomentosa)
  • Sawtooth Oak (Quercus acutissima Carruthers)
  • Siberian Elm (Ulmus pumila L.)
  • White Mulberry (Morus alba L.)

 To participate in the rebates:

Obtain a rebate form from a workshop, participating retail outlet or at the City's website.

  1. Purchase a rain barrel, compost bin, tree(s), or native plant(s) from your local garden center or hardware store. Here is a list of local retailers .
  2. Be sure your receipt clearly indicates your purchase! Ask the garden center staff to write in any necessary information that is not obvious or clear on your receipt, like what native plant species were purchased. This information is essential rebate processing.
  3. Carefully read through and complete the rebate form and mail it in with your itemized receipt to: Chicago Sustainable Backyards Program, Chicago Department of Transportation, 30 N. LaSalle,  11th Floor, Chicago, IL 60602

Rules and Restrictions (See rebate forms for more details)

  • Limit one of each rebate (rain barrel, compost bin, tree, and native plant) per installation address, per year. Residents are encouraged to purchase more than one tree and native plant, but should submit all 2012 native plant and tree receipts at once.
  • Products must be purchased between September 1, 2010, and December 31, 2012.
  • Original receipt (clearly indicating purchase) and completed Rebate Form must be post-marked by December 31, 2012. The City of Chicago reserves the right to deny rebate applications with unclear receipts.
  • Rebate checks may take up to 3 months (90 days) to process.


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