Community Rain Garden

The Niles Community Rain Garden project began in June of 2008 as a collaboration between the Village of Niles and Coca-Cola Bottling Company in Niles. Through this public/ private partnership, the Village of Niles is now the home of what Brook McDonald of the Conservation Foundation referred to as “the largest functioning rain garden in all of Cook County.”

By the spring of 2009, interest in Niles Community Rain Garden project grew with volunteers, sponsorships, and grants. The first grant to come in for the project was $5,000 from the RBC Blue Water Project, which focuses on fostering a culture of water stewardship. Following this grant were generous donations from the Niles Lions Club, Groot Industries, ComEd, and Home Depot. Pizzo Ecological Restoration provided free professional services by strategically placing and preparing the native plants and training volunteers how to properly plant the seedlings and plugs. The most significant support the second year came in the form of an in-kind donation of labor and construction from Chris’ Landscape - a local Niles business. The company’s owner, who is also a Niles resident, spent an entire day grading the site for proper drainage and constructing 470 linear feet of pervious pathway. The year came to an end with the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) highlighting the Niles Community Rain Garden project as part of their Green Practices for Communities series.

Since 2010, the Niles Community Rain Garden has been a popular gathering place for Arbor Day, Earth Day, and other special sustainability themed events. To date, the site contains 2,800 square feet of rain garden, 1,800 square feet of prairie grasses, and over 2,500 native forbs and grasses that absorb and naturally filter stormwater runoff from 36,000 square feet of nearby impervious surface. Five trees native to Illinois were planted onsite: three Pin Oaks and two White Oaks (State Tree).

The most impressive aspect of the Niles Community Rain Garden is how it has brought neighbors, businesses, schools and community groups together for a common purpose - water sustainability. Besides the countless hours of volunteers who planted thousands of native plant plugs and pulled just as many weeds, there were those businesses and community organizations that provided over $30,000 in in-kind contributions and donations.

The most important goal of the Niles Community Rain Garden project is education. Educational material has been created that provides step-by-step instructions on how to install a rain garden at your home, businesses and school. This material also discusses the importance of native plants, rain garden habitat and water sustainability. In the fall of 2011, educational trail signs were installed for visitors to learn about the project and to help inspire them to build a similar project at their home, business or school.

Additional Information
Niles Community Rain Garden Informational Pamphlet
Rain Gardens and Native Plantings: A Step-By-Step Guide
CMAP Niles Rain Garden Flyer

Interested in Volunteering at the Rain Garden?
If you are interested in being a Rain Garden volunteer, please contact the Village of Niles at 847-588-8010.