Home Rain Garden Discussion Panel

Home Rain Garden Discussion Panel

Home Rain Garden Discussion Panel


Thursday, April 29, 2021


via ZOOM





A rain garden in your yard can act as a sponge, a drain and a filter for excess rain water — water that can harm your trees and plants and overwhelm sewer systems. The Frederick Law Olmsted Society of Riverside partnered with the Riverside Public Library to present a panel discussion on home rain gardens. The discussion covered design, construction, plant selection and maintenance. Panelists included landscape architect Shawn Sinn, Val Kehoe and Jinnie Hoggarth from the University of Illinois Extension along with three Riverside homeowners who have rain gardens.

Link to Rain Garden Panel Discussion Recording:

YouTube Link

Resources mentioned in the panel discussion:

Creating Rain Gardens by Apryl Uncapher & Cleo Woelfle-Erskine


Garden Talk of Lake County

University of Illinois Extension – Cook County Master Naturalists

Brookfield Backyard “Farmers”

Chicagoland Gardening and Homesteading


Avesi Stormwater

Sources of Native Species/Rain Garden Plants:

The Growing Place in Naperville
La Grange Park Ace Hardware
West Cook Wild Ones
Wheaton Park District Native Illinois Plant Sale (single day annual event in the Spring)


The panelists included:

· Val Kehoe – Program Coordinator for University of Illinois Extension

Val is an Energy and Environmental Stewardship Coordinator for University of Illinois Extension serving Cook County. Her programs have included School and Community Gardens, as well as, collaborative initiatives between Illinois Extension and the Forest Preserves of Cook County, namely the Conservation@Home and the Master Naturalist Programs. Val Kehoe is a horticulturist and certified arborist with 25+ years of experience in the green industry.

· Shawn Sinn – Vice President, Semper Fi Landscaping

Shawn is an ecological restoration contractor based in the Chicago region. He has worked as a project manager and field supervisor restoring natural areas since 2004 and has a particular fondness for stream restoration and prescribed burn management. Shawn currently serves as the Vice President of Land Services for Semper Fi Land Services, Inc. in Yorkville, Illinois where his role includes leading the Ecological Restoration Division of the company.

· Jinnie Hoggarth – University of Illinois Extension

Jinnie is a Master Naturalist and Conservation @ Home volunteer with University of Illinois Extension. She monitors with Plants of Concern and frequents the Extension’s Adopt-A-Spot location, McLaughry Spring Woods. Her own hand-dug rain garden – with over 100 plants – is certified by Conservation @ Home. She has propagated plants from her garden to share with a local school, neighbors, and friends. Jinnie works in nonprofit healthcare, which has enabled her to find creative ways to bridge nature with health, such as writing a grant to establish a community farm at a health center. She now works as a nurse at a local nonprofit human milk bank.

Three Riverside homeowners also discussed their own rain gardens:

John Haugland
John created his rain garden and an adjacent prairie garden in 2006 with the help of a contractor. The garden has been absorbing water from two downspouts and a sump pump ever since, with minimal maintenance.

Dan Murphy
Dan and his wife Olivia created a rain garden in the summer of 2020. Torrential spring rains, a swamped yard, and two days running a heavy-duty pump started them looking for solutions. In July, a week of vacation and nowhere to go gave them the time to start digging.

Laura Rubio
Laura and Hutt Rubio, after discovering the day they moved into Riverside that their backyard flooded every time it rained, knew they needed to find a solution that would make their yard usable again. Working with a group of local landscapers they came up with a redundant system that includes a rain garden, a rain exchange system, a permeable paver patio and finally a pump system that sends overflow to the sewer system.