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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

A Low Wet Backyard

LaGrange Park, IL

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 Rain Garden With A Stream

Oak Park, IL

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

Small Rain Garden By A Patio

Naperville, IL

Planted in 2006 this interesting Rain Garden abets a small patio in the back yard where the owners relax snd enjoy coffee. Here is the garden in mid-June of 2011.

Click here to see more pictures of this rain garden.

A Rain Garden On A Slope -- Clarendon Hills, IL

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 -- It was terrible!

This photograph was taken in May of 2012. The garden was planted in May of 2006.

Click here to see more pictures of this garden

Missing pic

Happy Mickey Loves The Water

North Barrington, IL

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

Nature Lovers' Paradise

Northside of Chicago, IL

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

Decorative Waterfall By A Patio

Licolnwood, IL

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.

A Rain Garden In A Drainage Swale

Downers Grove, IL

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.

A Small Backyard Rain Garden

Northside of Chicago, IL

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

Miracle in Glen Ellyn !!!

Glen Ellyn, IL

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, Illinois.

A Sunny Front Yard Rain Garden

Deerfield, IL

Even a modest rain garden looks stunning. See how nicely the owner laid the concrete slabs for the entranceway. This garden in Deerfield, Illinois is in its third growing seasons in mid-July of 2010.

Rain Rain Go Away

Warrenville, Illinois

Poor Vince has got a lot of problems, most of which seemed insurmountable, but we made the best of a bad situation.

Click here to see more pictures of this yard.

Bold Large Rocks

LaGrange, Illinois

This distinctive raingarden is punctuated with large rocks and other structural elements that draw and hold one's attention.

Click here to see more pictures of this LaGrange, Illinois rain garden.

Below are some other single photos of examples worth noting. They show other examples of raingardens.

Large Sunny Rain Garden

Downers Grove, IL

A nice raingarden extending from the corner of this house. Unfortunately, the lawn guys got here before us and laid down a foot of mulch which we later had to remove.

Small, Shady, Very Pretty Rain Garden

Elmhurst, IL

This and the next photograph are of the same raingarden -- a small shady area in the back of the house next to the patio.

The Jack-in-the-Pulpit, Arisaema triphyllum, displays its bright red seedhead in the Fall.

A Shady Front Yard Of A Bungalow

Northside of Chicago, IL

The whole small shady front yard has been transformed into a raingarden.

Accomodating New Driveway Construction

Glen Ellyn, IL

The outflow from the downspout goes through a buried fifteen foot plastic hose which runs along the new driveway, under the patio and exits into this small raingarden.

Keeping The Driveway Free Of Dangerous Ice In The Winter

Yorkville, IL

This decorative pea gravel streambed runs parallel to the driveway into the raingarden. We like to put a small smattering of plants into such streams.

A Small, Shady, Wet Spot By The Garage

Buffalo Grove, IL

A small but delightful raingarden on the shady north side of a garage.

A Delightful, Little Front Yard Rain Garden

Near Elgin, IL

A relatively small raingarden in the front of the house near the entrance.

A Children's Bridge Over A Rain Garden Stream

Lake Forest, IL

The downspout leads into a thirty foot tube buried under the lawn into this wooded area which was recently cleared of buckthorn. From there it enters into a little stream that flows under the bridge which was constructed by the owner.

Sunny Rain Garden Along A Fence

Skokie, IL

A rain garden adjacent to a small patio. The stream and waterfall feature from the downspout make a nice transitional element from the house to the garden.

Rain Garden In A Small Raised Bed

Northwest Side of Chicago, IL

See how neat and tidy this small raingarden looks immediately after being stewarded. A downspout on the side of the house leads into a four foot flexible plastic pipe which we have extended out here for you to see.

Original Sculpture Yard Art

Oak Park, IL

The owner, an accomplished artist, highlighted the waterfall feature with one of her interesting creations.

Small, Shady Front Yard

Southside of Chicago, IL

A very, very small shady raingarden highlights the front of the house.

Best Things Come in Small Packages

Darien, IL

A small sunny raingarden on the side of the garage explodes in color in the late Spring.

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