As Vince Mosca tossed mulch over newly-planted little bluestem Wednesday, he talked about how the Niles Community Rain Garden helps to prevent water runoff and flooding in homes during heavy rainstorms.
"It helps keep water out of basements," explained Mosca, of Hey and Associates, a consulting firm which works on stormwater management for the village.
Earlier: Niles' innovative Rain Garden praised for using native plants to absorb water, prevent runoff and flooding
Volunteers from Coca Cola, Hey and Associates, the Niles Garden Club, the village of Niles and Chris' Landscaping spent several hours pushing roots of little bluestem, which is a native prairie grass, into the soil of the Rain Garden and covering them with mulch.
Chris Zalinski of Chris' Landscaping in Niles had earlier cleared rocks from the large area, near the back wall of the garden, which is in the 7000 block of Touhy Avenue, just west of the Niles Police Station.
"We planted over 500 plants," said Steve Vinezeano, the assistant village manager.
Bill O'Rourke, marketing director for Coca Cola, which concentrates many of its community involvement efforts in projects that foster water quality (another benefit of the Rain Garden), said the planting project was a good team building effort for the Coca Cola employees.
"We did a lot of weeding and planting, and Vince gave us a lesson in rainwater conservation," O'Rourke said.
Mosca explained that the rain garden is part of the initiative for the village to keep water on land during heavy storms, rather than having it run off and flow into sewers and the Deep Tunnel, and possibly flood streets and basements.
The native plants' roots absorb a lot of water, and filter it of pollution and pesticides.
Athena Columbus, a co-founder of the Niles Garden Club earlier this year, noted that the native plantings and flowers lived up to their billing of being drought-resistant during this summer's hot temperatures and little rain.
"The advantage (of native plants) is that once they're established, you don't have to water them," she said. "Nobody waters them on the prairie except God."
Mosca said the young bluestem plants have a good root mass, and would have two to four weeks of growing time before they go dormant in the cold weather.