Stormwater Detention Basin Basics

What is the purpose of a detention pond?

A stormwater detention pond, or detention basin, is a man-made pond in residential and commercial areas that collects stormwater run-off from surrounding landscapes, roads, and rooftops. The detention pond temporarily holds stormwater until it slowly releases into a local waterway.

Depending on its design, some detention basins are dry-bottomed and all the water drains between storms. Some are more pond-like and hold open water all of the time. Finally, some are more wetland-like with a mix of water and vegetation.

All three types are designed to hold a specified amount of stormwater (storage capacity) based on the need of the development. Local ordinance governs the storage capacity and the release rate of a detention basin.

What are the benefits of a detention pond?

Detention basins reduce the rate at which stormwater enters local waterways. By temporarily storing stormwater, a detention pond can prevent flooding.

They also prevent flooding in homes. Since detention ponds capture stormwater run-off from surrounding landscapes and rooftops, stormwater collects in the basin instead of homeowners’ properties.

Detention ponds help to keep pollutants and sediment out of the streams and other waterways by allowing them to settle at the bottom of the detention pond. However, pollutants and debris can degrade a detention pond’s water quality, often leading to murky water and a thick layer of algae.

Therefore, steps should be taken to manage both the function and aesthetic of detention ponds. If properly maintained, detention ponds can regulate stormwater while being an attractive feature for residents in the area, providing opportunities to enjoy nature and increasing property value at the same time.

What are signs of a deteriorating detention pond?

  • Murky Water: Stormwater run-off can carry sediment and other particles into the detention pond from surrounding landscapes and cause murky or cloudy water.
  • Algae Bloom: Stormwater run-off carries nutrients from fertilizers, sediment, animal waste and other sources into the detention basin. An increase in available nutrients allows algae to flourish. Abundant algae impacts aquatic life by blocking sunlight and decreasing oxygen levels in the water.
  • Shoreline erosion: If the detention basin does not have any deeply rooted plants to stabilize the soil, shoreline erosion can occur. The eroded soil adds nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus into the water, encouraging algae growth.
Without deeply rooted plants to stabilize the soil, shoreline erosion is more likely to occur.

Who maintains stormwater detention ponds?

Neglected detention ponds can be unsightly and ineffective. Detention basins are usually maintained by your Homeowners Association (HOA). Residents who are unsure of the maintenance responsibilities of their local detention pond can contact their HOA.

How can you help maintain your local detention pond?

  1. Reduce lawn chemical usage: Reducing the amount of fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides used on your lawn limits how much chemicals stormwater run-off brings into the detention pond.  
  2. Pick up your pet’s waste: Animal waste contains bacteria which will run-off into the water and deteriorate water conditions as well as increase the health risks of people who use the water for recreational use.
  3. Do not litter: Make sure to dispose of trash and recyclables properly. Otherwise, stormwater can carry litter into the detention basin and block the basin’s water flow.
It’s important to dispose of trash properly–stormwater can carry litter into detention basins, often blocking inlet and outlet structures while impacting water quality and aquatic life.

  1. “Stormwater Pond Maintenance,” City of Naperville,
  2. “Stormwater Detention Ponds,” Illinois Environmental Protection Agency,

Adding Native Plants to Your Landscape – Newsletter

The many benefits of native plans have made them an increasingly popular addition to landscapes, but native plants aren’t happy growing just anywhere. Here are some important questions to ask yourself when adding native plants to your landscape: When is the right time to add native plants into my landscape? How do I want to design and prepare my landscape? How do I maintain my native plants?  Asking yourself these questions will help you add the most beneficial native plants to your environment. To learn more, visit

Adding Native Plants to Your Landscape

Looking to add native plants to your landscape this spring? While adapted to our area, native plants have preferences on where they’d like to be planted. Below are tips to consider when adding natives to your yard:

When designing your landscape:

  • Pay attention to the different types of native plants in your area. What have you seen thriving outside your local library or in your neighbor’s yard? Each native plant is adapted to specific environmental conditions, so identifying what grows well in your area is a great place to begin.
  • Consider the following when getting to know your garden site: How much sunlight is there? What is the soil type? Does this area drain well or is it often wet?
  • Determine your budget for the landscape and create a wish list of the native plants you would like to add to your garden. Find ideas on different types of native gardens (from butterfly gardens to shade loving gardens) here.
  • Some plants rapidly spread, so if you have a smaller landscape it is best to ask an expert if any of your choices may crowd out other plantings.  

Suggested time to plant native plants:

  • Herbaceous plants: Spring to early summer.
  • Trees and Shrubs: Fall, but can also be planted in the spring.
  • Bulbs: Late October to early November (before the ground freezes).

Preparing a garden to plant your native plants:

  • Begin by clearing the area you wish to plant. Invasive plants and aggressive weeds will compete with the native plants. It’s best to start your natives off with ample space for them to become established. Black plastic or even wetted down newspaper can be used to kill off an area of turf grass or weeds before preparing it to plant.
  • Compost is a natural fertilizer containing nutrients your new native plants will love. Consider amending your garden bed with compost from your own compost pile or bagged compost from your local garden center to help establish your new garden.

Maintaining your new native garden:

While native plants are adapted to this area and do not require as much maintenance as non-natives, they should still be checked on for things such as:

  • Water: Depending on how frequently it rains after you plant your garden, the amount of watering you will need to do will fluctuate. While native plants grow very deep roots, when they are first planted the roots are only as deep as the pot you took them out of and their root ball can dry out very quickly. Be sure to water routinely and deeply so that water reaches below the plant root ball. This method of watering will encourage the roots to grow downward when looking for water instead of encouraging them to grow up toward the surface where they will dry out quickly.
  • Weeds: The amount of weeding will decrease as your native plants grow and fill in, but until they are mature it’s best to keep them from having to compete with weeds. Using a shredded wood mulch helps to keep weeds at bay, as well as lock moisture into the soil below.

Ready to add native plants in your yard? Your local municipality and/or county-based Soil and Water Conservation District may also host annual native plant sales – keep your eye out in the spring!  You may also contact the following grower and suppliers for native plants:

Natural Communities Native Plants
812 N Washington Ave
Batavia, IL 60510

Possibility Place Nursery
7548 W. Monee-Manhattan Road
Monee, Illinois 60449

The Growing Place
2000 Montgomery Road
Aurora, IL 60504
25w471 Plank Road
Naperville, IL 60563

Native Plants 101 – Newsletter

While steadily increasing in popularity, there are still questions on what a native plant actually is. Native plants have adapted to their local environment physically, chemically, and genetically for thousands of years and have therefore become a vital part of the local ecosystem. If a native plant has been taken and cultivated, it is no longer considered native because it has decreased the genetic diversity of the plant. Since native plants have adapted to live in local conditions, they are beneficial to add to the landscape because of their low-maintenance and cost effectiveness. To learn more, visit

Native Plants 101

Native plants have increased in popularity over the years but there can be some confusion on what a native plant actually is. Native plants have evolved and adapted physically, chemically, and genetically to their local environment for a thousand years or more and are vital parts of the ecosystem.

If a plant is cultivated from a native plant, it is no longer considered to be native since it has been taken from the wild and altered for a specific characteristic. This process decreases genetic diversity, which is important for a native plant’s survival.

Choosing a Native Plant

Choosing native plants for your yard is dependent on your desired landscape design as well as environmental conditions (sun or shade, low wet spot or dry area, for example). Some things to keep in mind include:

  • Are the flowers fragrant?
  • Is it an annual (dies with frost), biannual (lives two years, blooming and reseeding itself the second year) or perennial (comes back every year)?
  • What wildlife and/or pollinators does it attract?
  • What are the soil, water and sunlight conditions needed for this plant to thrive?

Benefits of Native Plants in Your Landscape

  • Low-maintenance and cost-effective: Since native plants have adapted to live with local conditions and wildlife, they are resistant to many diseases and do not require the use of chemical fertilizers or biocides. This makes for lower-maintenance and cost-effective gardening.
  • Deep roots: Compared to non-native plants, they require less watering (once their roots are established). Native plants have developed a deep root system over time due to past droughts, which now allows them to bring water up from more than 10 feet underground. These deep roots help keep your plants alive through consecutive warm summer days with no rain and also improve soil quality, remove pollutants, and reduce stormwater run-off.
  • Great for the local ecosystem: Native plants have co-evolved with wildlife to provide food and shelter, as well as aiding in the formation of soils and filtration of water underground. In return, wildlife and other ecosystem components help native plants with photosynthesis, pollination, and seed dispersal.

Here are some native plant options for northeast Illinois:

Black-Eyed Susan

The Black-Eyed Susan is a biennial or short-lived perennial (life cycle ends in around 2 years) that grows to around 1 – 2 1/2 feet tall in preferably full sun and slightly moist soil. It has stems with long white hairs and florets that are bright yellow and attract insects such as bees, flies, and butterflies. To learn more, click here.

Prairie Phlox

The Prairie Phlox is a perennial plant (life cycle is more than 2 years) that grows to about 1/2 – 1 3/4 feet tall in full to partial sun. They have stems with spreading white hairs and lavender/pink flowers that emit a slight pleasant fragrance. The flowers are usually visited by long-tongued bees, butterflies and skippers. To learn more, click here.

Butterfly Milkweed

The Butterfly Milkweed is a perennial plant that grows from 1 – 2 1/2 feet tall in preferably full sun. They have long-lasting orange petals that do not emit a fragrance. The flowers’ nectar usually attracts honeybees. To learn more, click here.

Trumpet Penstemon

The Trumpet Penstemon is a perennial plant that grows about 2-3 feet tall preferably in full or partial sun. It has creamy white petals that are clustered together in intervals. The nectar of this flower attracts primary long-tongued bees such as bumblebees. To learn more, click here.

Prairie Dropseed

Prairie Dropseed is a perennial grass that forms dense tufts of narrow leaves that grow about 1-2 feet tall in preferably full sun. The seeds are usually eaten by sparrows and other birds, and occasionally the foliage is eaten by grasshoppers. To learn more, click here.

Looking to add one of these plants to your landscape?

Your local municipality and/or county-based Soil and Water Conservation District may host annual native plant sales – keep your eye out for sales each spring!  You may also contact the following grower and suppliers for native plants:

Natural Communities Native Plants
812 N Washington Ave
Batavia, IL 60510
Possibility Place Nursery
7548 W. Monee-Manhattan Road
Monee, Illinois 60449

The Growing Place
2000 Montgomery Road
Aurora, IL 60504
25w471 Plank Road
Naperville, IL 60563