Meet your Chicagoland Stormwater Storage Requirements with a rain garden!

Rain Garden Showcase: Mt. Prospect Sump Pump Garden

Sump Pump Rain Garden

This is my first in a series of posts where I will go through some of my rain garden installations and share what worked, and what did not.

You can select from the tabs below to see pictures and information from any of the 4 years this specific rain garden has been installed.

I hope that you find this information helpful, and I would love hear any questions or feedback you have on this project.


  • May 3rd, 2010 – Before

    New addition to house increases sump pump volume into front yard.

    Not enough slope to move water away, lawn becomes swampy.

    May 10th, 2012 – Design

    Aster sagittifolius “Arrow-leaved Aster”  –  Baptisia australis “Blue Indigo”  –  Chelone glabra “White Turtlehead”  –  Geum triflorum “Prairie Smoke”  –  Iris virginica shrevei “Blueflag Iris”  –  Liatris spicata “Dense Blazing Star”  –  Monarda fistulosa “Wild Bergamot”  –  Rudbeckia speciosa “Showy Black-Eyed Susan”  –  Spirea alba “Meadowsweet”

    May 24th, 2010

    Smothering upper area of grass with paper, building lower berm with soil excavated.

    Draintile with pop-up emitter installed (green cap), now putting in plants.

    Hand placing mulch, this was the first and last time I installed mulch after plants. Always mulch first!


    Watered in plants, giving draintile a test.


    June 9th, 2010

    First Rain!

    July 27th, 2010

    Rudbeckia speciosa “Showy Black-Eyed Susan” in bloom.


    August 24th, 2010



    Chelone glabra “White Turtlehead”in bloom, along with Rudbeckia speciosa “Showy Black-Eyed Susan” and Lobelia siphilitica “Great Blue Lobelia” hiding there in the background, don’t know how that got in there.

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  • April 11th, 2011

    There is something miraculous about seeing your new plantings come out of the ground after their first winter.

    Fresh mulch.

    Geum triflorum “Prairie Smoke” in bloom.

    Quackgrass!

    At this time I tried hand removing all of the quackgrass. After this was unsuccessful, the next year I used two treatments of Ornamec to kill it.

    June 1st, 2011

    Plug sized plantings after one year.

    Geum triflorum “Prairie Smoke” going to seed, showing how it got its name.

    Iris virginica shrevei “Blueflag Iris” in bloom.


    Chelone glabra “White Turtlehead” to the far left, Geum triflorum “Prairie Smoke” at the bottom, Iris virginica shrevei “Blueflag Iris” in the center, and Monarda fistulosa “Wild Bergamot” to the far right.

    Liatris spicata “Dense Blazing Star” in the front with Baptisia australis “Blue Indigo” behind.


    Baptisia australis “Blue Indigo” in bloom. A short but beautiful show.

    July 26, 2011

    Liatris spicata “Dense Blazing Star” far left,Rudbeckia speciosa “Showy Black-Eyed Susan” front left, and Monarda fistulosa “Wild Bergamot” far right, all in bloom.

    A dense grouping of Liatris spicata “Dense Blazing Star.”

    Monarda fistulosa “Wild Bergamot” has a beautiful flower, but…


    …was not the best choice for this location. It is not proportional to the plants around it, and flops into the grass. Going to switch it out here soon.

    August 17th, 2011

    Rudbeckia speciosa “Showy Black-Eyed Susan” giving a great show.

    September 26th, 2011


    Aster sagittifolius “Arrow-leaved Aster” has a profuse bloom, but with no companion plants around it, it also flops into the yard like the Wild Bergamot. It will have to go as well.

    Chelone glabra “White Turtlehead” at the end of its bloom time.


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  • June 18th, 2012

    The Year of the Drought

    Spirea alba “Meadowsweet” don’t care ’bout no drought.

    Monarda fistulosa “Wild Bergamot” and Aster sagittifolius “Arrow-leaved Aster” removed. Replaced with Asclepia tuberosa “Butterfly Weed” and Coreopsis palmata “Prairie Coreopsis,” respectively. I use utility marker flags to mark the plants so the homeowner can find and water them easily.
    I also pinched back the
    Chelone glabra “White Turtlehead” by about 2 feet to help it produce more flower, but mostly to keep its final height lower.

    July 10th, 2012

    Third year in and facing one of the worst droughts on record, the native Liatris spicata “Dense Blazing Star” still produces flower, albeit stunted by about two feet.

    August 8th, 2012

    Rudbeckia speciosa “Showy Black-Eyed Susan” does not dissapoint.

    The new plantings are coming in, and the pinched back Chelone glabra “White Turtlehead” has made numerous side branches with lots of buds.

    September 14th, 2012


    A sea of white snapdragon flowers from our Chelone glabra “White Turtlehead.”

    A bumblebee working hard for the pollen.

    I don’t know where these Lobelia siphilitica “Great Blue Lobelia” came from, but they seem to like it here.

    October 10th, 2012

    November 20th, 2012

    Time to close the book on this season.

    Sharp hedge trimmer shears and a tarp make quick work of the dead plant matter. You can also collect this in the Spring, leaving seeds and habitat for critters.

    I like to remove the green caps to prevent any freezing of the lids.

    A final show before winter from the Bradford Pear Tree.

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  • March 10th, 2013

    A late winter all day rain combined with a good amount of melting snow leads to an overflowing rain garden.

    The overflow travels safely away from the house towards to street.

    The rarely if ever used overflow has some erosion of the berm.

    April 2nd, 2013

    Early Spring in the rain garden.

    May 20th, 2013

    The wet Spring is a welcome sight after last year.


    A close-up of the overflow erosion. We will fix this with some cobblestones.

    The Coreopsis palmata “Prairie Coreopsis” is back, but where is the Asclepia tuberosa “Butterfly Weed?”

    Geum triflorum “Prairie Smoke,” looking weird and awesome at the same time.

    June 19th, 2013

    Chelone glabra “White Turtlehead” tall.

    Chelone glabra “White Turtlehead” trimmed down 2 feet with shears indiscriminately. A cobblestone border is also now in place to help hold in the soil on the berm.

    Asclepia tuberosa “Butterfly Weed” is always late to come out of the ground, but I didn’t think that it would do well in this location over time.So I removed the still living sufferers and replanted Geranium maculatum “Wild Geranium” in its place. I also divided a few of the Geum triflorum “Prairie Smoke” and replanted them across some of the previously eroded berm.

    Iris virginica shrevei “Blueflag Iris” close-up.

    July 7th, 2013

    New cobblestone border survives the 5″ of rain in 3 hour monsoon on June 26th.

    Chelone glabra “White Turtlehead” taking well to this year’s violent shearing, as opposed to my previous time-consuming pinching back at leaf nodes.


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