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Kim Isaacson
Program Coordinator, Horticulture
University of Illinois Extension
100 South US Highway 45
Grayslake, IL 60030
Phone: 847-223-8627
FAX: 847-223-9288

Lake County Master Gardeners

Lake County Master Gardeners

Rain Gardens - A Useful Tool for the Homeowner

Rain gardens are useful stormwater managers when constructed properly and add beauty to the landscape.

About Rain Gardens

A rain garden is. . .

. . . a shallow, constructed depression planted with deep-rooted native plants.  Rain gardens act as “mini wetlands,” collecting runoff from hard surfaces (roofs, driveways, roads) and slowing the water’s rush off these areas.  Rain gardens then hold the runoff water for 1 to 2 days, and allow it to naturally infiltrate into the ground.

Among a rain garden’s benefits are that it . . .

. . . increases the amount of water filtering into the ground, which helps recharge aquifers;

. . .  reduces the volume of stormwater runoff, helping mitigate flooding;

. . . reduces pollutants washing into lakes and streams (such as lawn fertilizers, pesticides, oil and other road chemicals);

. . . provides valuable habitat for birds and butterflies; and

. . . is a low-tech, inexpensive, sustainable, and beautiful addition to home, municipal, and business landscapes.

Facts:  A properly-constructed 300 sq. ft. rain garden can absorb up to 12,000 gallons of stormwater annually.  Rain gardens can reduce phosphorous, nitrogen, and sediment amounts by 50% or more.

VISIT the Demonstration Rain Garden in Libertyville…

University of Illinois Extension Master Gardeners have partnered with the Lake County Stormwater Management Commission to promote rain gardens as a viable way to manage storm water run-off. 

The Lake County Central Permit Facility at 500 Winchester Road, Libertyville, IL is a large-scale rain garden that manages the storm water from the facility and parking areas.  Located in front of the building’s main entrance, the garden has been planted with over 50 native species that will give you an idea of how the plants perform in our area.  Information sheets have been prepared on the native plants.  This information will assist you in obtaining appropriate plants for rain garden conditions. 

Installing a Rain Garden?  Below are some resources for construction and plant material.  For additional information or to schedule a rain garden presentation, contact the U of I Extension Master Gardeners of Lake County at 847-223-8627.

Online Resources:

·         Rain Gardens: a how-to manual for homeowners (Wisc. DNR & UW Extension)


-          Or a hard copy for $4.25 (Item # GWQ037)at 

·         How to Build a Rain Garden, by Rain Garden Network


·         Building a Backyard Rain Garden, by North Carolina Cooperative Extension


·        University of Illinois Resources:

  U of I Extension’s “Hort Answers,” at

          U of I Extension’s “Hort Corner,” at

          U of I Extension’s podcasts, at

 USDA for detailed plant information