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A landscaping idea that is attractive and good for the environment:

A rain garden redirects rain water from a downspout - perhaps diverting it through a streambed lined with smooth river rocks to resemble the bed of a fast-running stream of water - leading to a depressed area planted with plants that appreciate wet spots, such as cardinal flower, blue flag iris, fowl mama grass, assorted sedges, swamp milkweed, marsh blazing star, etc.

In a suburban setting, a strategically placed rain garden captures water that would either stand in low pools in the yard or seep into the basement. On a larger scale, homeowners opting to create rain gardens may also be helping the larger environment:

Kenneth Potter, a civil and environmental engineering professor at the University of Wisconsin, explains that "as urban development proceeds, the land becomes covered with impervious surfaces — like rooftops, roads and parking lots — that don't allow rainwater to penetrate the ground. Instead, it washes into the gutters and sewers of city streets, eventually ending up as surface water.

"Not only does increased runoff cause higher lake levels and flashier stream flows, but water quality declines because storm water picks up sediments and pollutants as it flows over ground. Rain gardens, he says, provide one way to help counter these effects.

"Rain gardens help capture rainwater directed from roofs or other surfaces. When it rains, water initially pools in the garden's plant zone, percolating quickly from there into the permeable layer underneath. The permeable zone then stores water until it seeps into subsoil. Rain gardens may improve water quality as well, capturing common contaminants such as excess nitrogen and phosphorus."

- from University Communications News@UW-Madison


Stream bed

After a hard rain this once buckthorn-filled backyard would have standing water for several days.

Featured in the March/April 2005 edition of Chicagoland Gardening Magazine.

Click here to see more pictures of this garden

A 25 feet long stream bed was created to take rain water from the downspout to a low excavated 12-foot diameter Rain Garden basin in the center of the backyard.

This garden was featured in the March/April 2005 edition of Chicagoland Gardening Magazine.

Click here to see more pictures of this garden

Here is severely sloped sunny front yard in Clarendon Hills.

From the downspout we made a waterfall, stream bed and Rain Garden basin with an overflow.

Into the downspout we threaded a garden hose so the owners' son could turn on the water and play in the stream when he wished.

The "soil" consisted mainly of limestone debris from the new construction.

Click here to see more pictures of this garden

Missing pic

Mickey loves playing in the stream bed in this North Barrington Rain Garden.

This garden is also featured in the March/April 2005 edition of Chicagoland Gardening Magazine.

Click here to see more pictures of this garden

Tall, bold plants were used freely to fill this entire backyard Rain Garden.

The owners would watch their garden from a tall comfortable deck as there was little room to walk in their backyard.

Click here to see more pictures of this Chicago Northside Rain Garden.

Missing pic

Missing pic

We created a large waterfall feature to accommodate the two downspouts. A garden hose was threaded into the downspout on the right.

The owners sit on ther patio enjoying their morning coffee and the sights and sounds of the waters running down into their Rain Garden.

Click here to see more pictures of this Rain Garden om Lincolnwood.

This swale, about two feet below street level, carried huge amounts of water after a rain. When planting a swale, make sure you contact the municipality to obey all regulations.

Click here to see more pictures of this Swale Rain Garden in Downers Grove.

The Cardinal flower Lobalia cardinalis is almost as tall as Laurene and certainly much taller than Vladimir.

Miracle in Glen Ellyn !!!

The sump pump ran constantly forcing the owner to awaken at 4AM during the Winter to chip ice off of the sidewalk.

We corrected the horrific water problem by employing several strategies:

We regraded all around the house, redirected the downspouts to properly disperse the outflow, raised the sump pump intake about a foot to avoid pumping more water than necessary and, lastly, created a rain garden in the front yard to accept the discharge from the sump pump and one downspout.

Although the sump pump still discharges regularly, the rain garden accepts all the water without overflowing even during the coldest winter days.

Click here to see more pictures of this Rain Garden in Glen Ellyn.

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