Tag Archives: clean water

Blooming Alleys Partnership Results

In our first post about the Blooming Alleys Partnership I described the collaborative meeting we had in April, here at Sabathani, with all of our project partners to figure out what successful Blooming Alleys projects will look like and how this partnership enables and contributes to that success.  We spent much of May working on a qualitative analysis of the loads of data that we received from that meeting.  First, everything was transcribed.  Next, we assigned a code to each idea/note (was the idea related to social fabric, changing social norms, water quality, etc).  Then we put it all into a big, giant Excel table to break down further. From that we were able to pull the really “big ideas” that came out in each conversation and across all of the conversations.

One of those big ideas was the need for clearly defined roles and responsibilities for each group of partners, so we created a detailed description of roles based on the people that participants told us were important to these projects.  Those roles are briefly outlined here.  If you’d like more detailed information, let me know and I’ll get it to you (laura@metroblooms.org)!


Girl Scouts and neighbors work together at an Alley Party

Alley Captains: Work with Metro Blooms to plan an Alley Party for their block and manage communication within the block.  Master Water Stewards: Assist with outreach, education, installation, and maintenance.                                            Master Gardeners: Assist with planting design, installation, and maintenance education.                                                          Minnehaha Creek Watershed District: Provide expertise on stormwater management practices & potential funding source for engagement & installation.        Blue Thumb Partners: Provide expertise in stormwater management including raingardens, permeable pavement, trench drains, and native plantings.                                                                                                  Outside Groups/Volunteers (ex: Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, Friends of Diamond Lake, Friends of Lake Nokomis, Neighborhood Organizations): Participate in volunteer outreach and installation events.                                                                                             Metro Blooms: Lead initial project scoping and fundraising with neighborhood leaders, communications, coordination or volunteer groups, recruitment and training of Alley Captains, Alley Parties, ongoing project management, and site consultation, design, and installation activities.

In addition to figuring out the roles of partners, we’re using other “big ideas”shared by partners in how we explain the project to potential participants and partners, to effectively market the project, to define success, ensure we’re implementing sustainable projects, and in creating useful resources.  Here are some of the big “ah-ha” moments we had when analyzing these results:

  • The majority of participants see this project as a way to improve alleys and strengthen the community. The environmental benefits are not so much a main reason to participate as a benefit received for participating
  • Participants want to use this project to develop a unique space in the alleyway and set an example for others.  A space that’s clean, friendly, warm, inviting, and colorful
  • Parties are so important – building a stronger community and spending time with neighbors seems to be the biggest reason people are interested in these projects
  • We need multiple “starting points” for participants – not everyone wants a raingarden or wants to participate at all.  But maybe they’d be willing to re-direct their downspout to a neighbors garden!

Alley Captains, neighbors, and Master Water Stewards interact at a Community Get-Together

Developing this partnership model has already been immensely helpful in our Blooming Alleys projects.  We recently had project specific meetings for partners involved in the Lynnhurst, Nokomis, and Diamond Lake Blooming Alleys projects.  Because many of those partners had been engaged in the development of the model (or at the very least received numerous emails about the process) they were already very familiar with the projects.  Because they’re familiar and comfortable with the project already, talking to neighbors about it seems less daunting and inconvenient.  Additionally, we’ve created some new resources including an FAQ (so important!), a Story Map filled with examples of Blooming Alley projects (so cool!), and Alley Party postcards.  Above all, we recognize our reason for implementing these programs (water quality) is not the main reason that most people participate (community!) and that’s okay! Stronger communities have more participation and are more likely to adopt and maintain their stormwater management practices – all things that ultimately lead to improved water quality and habitat.

As I finish this blog by typing in the name, I can’t help but think “the BAP, the Blooming Alleys Partnership” and how I can’t wait to use the term in the future because it feels like we’re really creating something awesome here.  Something that has the potential and drive to have a huge impact, not just on water quality and habitat but in creating strong, thriving communities.

Blue Thumb/Metro Blooms Merger: Frequently Asked Questions

BlueThumbMetro Blooms and Blue Thumb are Merging!

The following describes the current understanding of how the Blue Thumb program would be governed and would operate following a merger of the program with Metro Blooms.  The Rice Creek Watershed District and Metro Blooms are working toward achieving a final transfer agreement in late May.  Separately, a transition plan covering Blue Thumb governance, financial management, and communication, more detailed but not legally binding, will be finalized and carried out collaboratively by Blue Thumb partners and Metro Blooms.

What advantages does merging with a non-profit organization have for Blue Thumb?

The intention of the creators of Blue Thumb was for it to become a non-profit organization.  Non-profits are eligible for additional funding sources.  They are not bound to a single geographic area unless by design, and often excel at establishing partnerships and working with volunteers.  Given Blue Thumb’s close programmatic alignment with Metro Blooms, the steering committee is excited about the possibilities to strengthen and expand our work throughout the state.

Will I continue to have access to Blue Thumb materials and displays?

All Blue Thumb materials created prior to the transfer will become publicly available after the transfer, either upon request or to partners who have access to the ftp site, including display materials that would be available for check out with payment of a $20 maintenance fee.  Handling of materials created following the transfer would be determined by the new Blue Thumb governance.


I am interested in participating, but am unable to pay the 2015 membership dues in full.  What are my options and how will the new dues structure be evaluated moving forward?

We understand that 2015 budgets were approved before membership dues were officially rolled out, and will work with partners to determine a contribution for this year that meets your needs.  Raising money through dues, grant writing, and sponsorship will be an important part of creating a more sustainable program in the future.  We will convene a workshop group to discuss fundraising efforts including the 2015 dues structure and possible changes for 2016.

How might the roles and relationships with local government partners change?

Government agencies often pay dues to or contract with nonprofit and for‐profit businesses. The Blue Thumb partner agreement would legally transfer the Blue Thumb program and assign the Blue Thumb copyright to Metro Blooms in accordance with program governance and related terms designed to continue partner support and remain responsive to public goals into the future. The agreement likely will provide for a period in which Metro Blooms will operate the program by license before program ownership is transferred, while it and partners refine governance and operational structures to ensure these goals are achieved. Metro Blooms has a history of successful contract work with 10‐20
government agencies each year, including the Legislative‐Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources from 2009‐2011. If there are new benefits that you would like to see in 2016, please let us know!

How will we ensure financial accountability and transparency for partners?

The Blue Thumb budget would become the responsibility of the new board of directors following a merger of the program with Metro Blooms.

As a non-profit organization, the Metro Blooms board of directors has a fiduciary responsibility to ensure that the organization’s records and accounts are accurate. To meet this responsibility, monthly financial statements are presented to the board as well as quarterly statements where the approved budget is updated to more accurately reflect the actual versus projected revenue and expenses.  The quarterly statements would be shared with the Blue Thumb advisory committee and made available to all partners upon request.

The annual budget is approved at the December board meeting.  Blue Thumb partners would have the opportunity to comment on draft budget items paid for with membership dues through a process established by the advisory committee. Membership dues would only be spent on pre-approved activities as outlined in the annual budget.  An annual report detailing expenditures and achievements would be provided for partners as well.

How would Blue Thumb and the newly formed organization be governed?

Blue Thumb partners would have several opportunities to participate in governance of the organization including on the nominating committee to interview and select new members of the board of directors, as a board member through an application and interview process, or on an advisory committee with a
liaison to the board to promote communication between the two entities.

With all that partners have invested, does Metro Blooms have the institutional knowledge and capacity to maintain and improve the Blue Thumb program and the services it offers?

Dawn Pape has been hired as the Director of Marketing and Partner Engagement for Metro Blooms. As the Rice Creek Watershed District education and communication specialist, Dawn started Blue Thumb in 2006 and developed it with the help of many partners. She is working part‐time for Metro Blooms at
this time and her hours may increase as funds become available to support this new and exciting position.

Planting for Pollinators: How Raingardens Can Help

In a world without bees, your next plate of food would have considerably less
variety. By some estimates, one of every three bites of food we take depends onMonarch pollinators like bees. Pollinators are the small creatures—among them bees, butterflies and hummingbirds—that carry pollen from plant to plant as they forage, unknowingly performing an important step in the production of fruits and seeds.

In recent years, we have observed severe declines in various pollinator populations. Honey bees are a key example. According to the USDA, beekeepers lost an average of one-third of their colonies every winter from 2006 to 2011. In the last couple of decades, the monarch butterfly population has declined 90 percent in North America.

This is worrisome. Consider the following: more than 80 percent of plants depend on pollinators for survival. In this country alone, bees and other insect pollinators contribute more than $24 billion a year to the economy.

Why are pollinators disappearing? A leading cause is lost habitat. Quite simply, many pollinators no longer have the food and other resources they need to survive. They are also vulnerable to pesticides, in ways that are currently being studied.

While this problem exists globally, we can act on a personal level to help solve the problem. Our gardening practices can create urban habitats that attract and sustain pollinators. Choosing native plants is a step in the right direction: pollinators and plants that evolved in the same areas generally benefit one another. For example, milkweed attracts bees and butterflies. To reproduce, monarch butterflies actually need milkweed because it is the only plant their caterpillars eat. Practices on this scale can establish pollinators in our own backyards.

Which brings us to raingardens, one of our favorite topics. Metro Blooms teachesCertified Raingarden people how to plant raingardens as part of our mission to promote gardening, beautify the community, and help heal the environment. These shallow depressions, planted with native vegetation, allow stormwater to be cleaned naturally as it soaks into the ground, diverting polluted runoff from our waterways.

Creating raingardens that are also habitats for native pollinators is, quite simply, smart design. The raingardens help clean and preserve natural bodies of water and function as habitats for bees, butterflies, and other insects and small animals that pollinate. In turn, the pollinators, just by doing what they do, help the raingardens thrive so they can work efficiently to clean our water.

Learn more at one of our eco-friendly raingarden workshops. This year we will offer lots of information on designing raingardens for pollinators: http://metroblooms.org/workshops.php

 Aleli Balagtas is a freelance writer interested inIMG_1374.JPG (1) gardening ecologically.

2014 Triumphs and Lessons Learned

Wow.  I know I said last year was busy, but 2014 was so busy we hardly had time to blog about, well, anything.  Over the last 12 months we’ve worked with some amazing partners to install 96 raingardens, 6 bisowales, 1 trench drain, and 4 permeable pavement systems.  We’ve held 7 corporate volunteer events, educated 430 citizens at our workshops, maintained 18 stormwater management practices, worked with volunteers to evaluate and recognize almost 1,000 gardens, and significantly expanded our work with businesses.  I’d say who’s counting, but clearly we are – Henning-Smithsafter all we’ve got to let all of our generous supporters know what we’re accomplishing! None of these projects would be possible without the work of dedicated citizens who are doing so much to make a difference in their environment.  So before we move on to 2015 and a new series of adventures, let’s remember some of the great projects and partnerships we’ve had the fortune to be a part of in 2014.

Each year we work with the Conservation Corps of Minnesota, citizens, and neighborhood organizations to install raingardens through our “Neighborhood of Raingardens” program.  In 2014, we had a record number of projects – 7 different neighborhoods installed 67 raingardens which provide over 8,000 square feet of urban habitat for pollinators and filter thousands of gallons of photo 2stormwater runoff each year. Five of the neighborhoods, Sheridan, Columbia Park, Longfellow, Cedar Isles Dean and Field Regina Northrop, were new partners, and two, Cleveland and Audubon, continued previous partnerships. During the Cleveland installations we had the opportunity to teach a group of students from South Korea about raingardens (see photo). In total, Metro Blooms has partnered with 18 neighborhoods since 2009 to install 423 raingardens through this community-driven program!

Lesson Learned:  A giant pry bar is the best tool to remove copious amounts of rocks from unpredictably difficult soil (Cedar Isles Dean we’re talking about you!)

In other areas of the metro we were able to partner with local government organizations to design and oversee unique stormwater management projects.  We’ve been working with the City of Bloomington since 2012 on their project Green Streets for Blue Waters to design a backyard bio-swale and 18 cuphoto 2rb cut raingardens in an area of town that drains directly to the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge.  This summer we saw that project come to fruition while we provided oversight during the installation of the curb cut raingardens and maintenance education for residents post-install.  You can read more about that project in our previous blog.  We also finished up an engagement and installation project with the Vadnais Lakes Area Watershed Management Organization (say that fast) for which we worked with a variety of community organizations and businesses to install 6 stormwater management projects.

Lesson Learned: Pull tree seedlings that creep into your garden early on, or you’ll need a saw, a team of strong pullers, and possibly a horse to get them out.

This was a very exciting year for our Nokomis Neighbors for Clean Water project and residents all over looking to spruce up their alleyways.  The general idea of 1375046_10152738599886585_4152416507782961051_nthe project is to work with neighbors to create community spaces along their alleyway that also have an ecological function: to infiltrate stormwater and provide habitat.  Last spring we got to design a super fun and effective engagement process to implement with neighbors from a couple of blocks to the west of Lake Nokomis. You can read all about that here.  Then, this summer along one of the blocks we installed the first ever Blooming Alley for Clean Water in Minneapolis with funding from the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District, the City of Minneapolis, and Hennepin County.  In total, ten residents gave up space on their property and shared in the photo (23)cost to install 5 raingardens, 4 permeable pavement systems, 1 trench drain and 6 bioswales. We worked with 35 volunteers from Cummins, the neighborhood, and the Conservation Corps of MN to install the raingardens and bioswales during a two day digging and planting extravaganza.  The permeable pavement and trench drain were installed by the fabulous crew at Earth Wizards.

I know you’re already planning to check out the alley this spring, so I’ll tell you now, it’s located between 50th and 51st Street and 16th and 17th Avenue just to the west of Lake Nokomis.  The neighbors would LOVE to see you out there.  In addition to providing funding, the Center for Prevention at Blue Cross Blue Shield created a short video about the project as part of their Pulling Together Minnesota campaign, demonstrating how community action can create super cool spaces where neighbors are able to interact and be active.  Check it out below.  To cap it all off we hosted a Blue Thumb Alley Tour for interested professionals and citizens.  Almost 50 people attended, proving the community’s desire to create beautiful community spaces that protect water AND habitat.  I mean really, how could that not interest you?

Lesson Learned: Working with communities means you have to be flexible, but it also guarantees your outcomes are meaningful, and in this case simply inspiring.

Irapson2n addition to our community-focused projects we got to work with a couple of schools on raingardens this year.  Last spring we worked with Professor Mark Pedelty’s class at the University of Minnesota to design and install a raingarden outside of Rapson Hall College of Design.  Thank goodness for dedicated students from Mark’s class and Mr. Pedelty himself – we didn’t have the help of the Conservation Corps on this particular project and it was seriously hard work!  Off campus, our MN GreenCorps member, Aida, taught 4th and 5th graders at Bethune Community School in north Minneapolis about environmental stewardship and raingarden OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAdesign.  Thanks to funding from the Hennepin County Green Partners program we were able to install and plant the garden with students in May and then teach them about maintenance this fall.

Lesson Learned: Do NOT, under any circumstances, try to excavate, mulch, and plant a 1,200 square foot raingarden in one day without professional help.

Well I think I’ve rambled on about installations long enough.  Now for the other half of Metro Blooms’ uniqueness: education and garden evaluations!  We kicked off our Raingardens and Beyond workshop series last February, a bit earlier than usual, but after a cold winter we figured everyone was ready to start thinking about being outside again.  From February-June over 430 people came to 16 workshops throughout the metro to learn about raingardens and work with a landscape designer and Hennepin County Master Gardener to design their own property.  By October, 42% had already installed a raingarden or were currently working on one and another 30% have plans to install one in the future.  Stay tuned for our 2015 workshops, Raingardens and Beyond: Clean Water, Healthy Habitats.  We’ll be incorporating more information about pollinators and the plants they rely on in 2015.
State Fair

In other education news, Metro Blooms became the new host site of the Blue Thumb program this year.  Blue Thumb is a regional network of water quality professionals including local governments, nurseries, landscape companies, and nonprofits.  We had a great time hosting Blue Thumb activities this summer/fall including the Blue Thumb Alley Tour, tour of Lakeville stormwater management practices (led by Ecoscapes), Landscape Revival, and State Fair booth and are now exploring a permanent relationship with the program.

Lesson Learned: State Fair visitors LOVE the Blue Thumb “Magic is in the Roots” display.  We need more cool displays.

Our Development Director, Barb, had a very busy year, adding 7 corporate volunteer events to her already packed schedule!  We partnered with about 250 volunteers in 2014 to accomplish some fantastic projects.  Those volunteers include our 113 garden evaluators, who evaluated some 970 gardens throughoutTarget 2014 Minneapolis.  The evaluations culminate in the top 10-15 gardens which we recognize at our annual Garden Awards event.  The event was at the Columbia Manor again this year and nearly 200 people attended to recognize beautiful Minneapolis gardens and the people that create and maintain them.

Lesson Learned: Not only does Columbia Manor have delicious desserts, they also have fantastic appetizers (thanks Prom Catering).

2014 also marked a very exciting year for us in the commercial sector.  We received a Great Streets Business District Support Grant last winter from the City of Minneapolis to work with businesses along East 38th Street and within the Whittier Neighborhood of Minneapolis.  The grant supports site consultations, education, stormwater management plans, and assistance with funding applications for businesses in eligible areas.  Our office just so happens to be located along 38th Street, in Sabathani Community Center, and our designers have had a ball working with them and other businesses such as the Black Forest Inn and the Fire Arts Center.

Lesson Learned: Business owners don’t attend workshops and site consultations at Black Forest Inn seem to take twice as long as usual…I’m sure it has nothing to do with their delicious menu:)

I swore this year maintenance was going to get its own paragraph, because we (by photo 1 (6)we I mean our designer Andy) put a lot of work into it.  This year we partnered with the Conservation Corps of MN to maintain stormwater management practices at 14 Minneapolis Public School (MPS) sites.  But the exciting part is the stormwater credits: we worked with the schools and the City of Minneapolis to secure over $60,000 in stormwater credits for MPS every year due to their stormwater management practices.  We also started working with the City of Champlin to maintain a few raingardens on City property and partnered with volunteers to pull weeds and re-plant at Sentyrz, Irving Triangle, and Folwell School in Minneapolis.

Lesson Learned: Canada thistle looks pretty, until you sit on it multiple times.  Then it’s not pretty, at all.

Like I said, it was a busy year!  Thank you for sticking with us and for your continued support.  We’ve got some exciting projects coming up in 2015, and we can’t wait to share them with you.  In the meantime, Happy New Year from all of us here at Metro Blooms:)

Seasonal Raingarden Maintenance Practices

Seasonal Raingarden Maintenance Practices

Each season has a small list of tasks associated with good raingarden maintenance practices. By staying on top of maintenance each season, problems can be avoided and maintenance can be a small task compared to a major chore. By taking a few minutes to peruse the garden, major maintenance headaches can be avoided. What follows is an overview of maintenance tasks for each season so that readers may avoid these major problems and have a pleasurable gardening experience.


In the early part of spring, after the snow has melted and before new plant growth has started for the year, remove last year’s decaying growth. We call this decaying plant material ‘duff’. Duff is a wonderful thing to let stand throughout the winter months as it provides habitat and food for over wintering birds, helps to insulate the ground during the coldest days of the year, and it can provide visual interest in the garden throughout winter. Once temperatures begin to rise, however, new growth will start to peak up through the soil and it will be good to have last year’s duff out of the way. Not only does this help to warm the soil by providing a little extra sunlight, it can be a very exciting time visually as well. Fresh new green popping up in the garden is a most welcome sign of the warm seasons to come.

There are many species of weeds that will take advantage of this time of the year. Cool season weeds will start to germinate in the spaces between your desired raingarden plants. This is an excellent time for pulling these weeds out before they have a chance to become established. Once weeds, especially invasive trees, are established they become a real problem to remove. What could be 10 minutes spent easily hand-pulling tiny saplings becomes hours spent digging out substantial root structure. This not only makes maintenance a horrible chore, it affects the health and performance of the desirable plants in the garden.  Check out our blog for photos of cool-season weeds here.

Typically, your desired perennial plants will have a larger more distinct clump form, as well as a designed pattern in the garden. Raingarden design typically employs multiple specimens of the same species organized into groups. This can be another clue to help in identifying which plants will want to be left, because weeds are very randomly spaced.

Spring is a good time to assess your mulch. New mulch is more easily applied in the spring because plant material has not grown in the way. It is easier to see bare spots where mulch is thin and soil is peaking through. A good rule of thumb for mulch is to maintain a 3” layer. This will provide a good barrier against weeds and will help to keep the soil moist for desired plants. Remember to always use double shredded hardwood mulch in raingardens because it binds together and doesn’t float during large rain events. Check the Blue Thumb webpage for local distributors of double shredded hardwood mulch. It is typically available in bags or in bulk and can be either picked up or delivered for a small fee.

Spring is also an appropriate time for replanting any bare spots in the garden. There are many options for how to approach replanting. By following the planting plan for a project, gardeners can choose to use the same plant variety they have in the design and replace missing plants with what is shown in the plan. Another option is to replace with a different type of plant altogether. This is a particularly good approach if several plants of the same species have completely died out. Perhaps the designed plant variety is not as well suited as the designer had originally thought and some experimenting with a new variety might warrant better results. Replacing with a new variety can be a fun way for participants to further engage and take ownership of their garden. The Blue Thumb Plant Selector Tool can be an invaluable resource for choosing plants and learning a given plants’ characteristics.

Another great activity for spring gardening is the division of established perennials. This is an activity for more established plant material that has reached maturity. Many varieties of established perennial plants can be dug up completely from their home in the garden and then divided into smaller specimens for use in other areas of the yard. This can be particularly useful for gardeners wishing to add another raingarden to their yard without the expense of purchasing new plants. Spring is the best time for division and transplanting because it gives transplants time to establish new roots throughout the coming growing season. A good rule of thumb is to try and find specimens for transplanting just after the new foliage has begun to peak up out of the soil. With a little research online, gardeners can discern which of their plants would be most appropriate for division and use in other spots of their yard.


Throughout late spring and summer, it is a good practice to peruse the garden on a semi-regular basis. The longest I would go between visits would be two weeks. During these garden visits, keep an eye on your plants. Watch as they change with the season. As early blooming varieties fade, you may want to prune away any decaying plant material you find unattractive. This will typically be fine for your perennials and it is common practice for gardeners to do what is called “dead-heading”.  Dead-heading is simply the removal of any plant material which starts to decay during the growing season. This is really a judgment call on the part of each gardener, as it is a matter of aesthetic preference. Remember that perennials will bloom and then produce seeds on what were once blooming flower stems. Gardeners can choose for themselves whether or not they would like to keep this material around or not. Perhaps a gardener will want to keep seed heads around for the benefit of feeding birds or for the possibility of growing more of a particular variety from the newly developed seeds. On the other hand, a gardener may want to spruce things up in the garden to highlight the aesthetic of blooms that have yet to come. This is purely subjective and gives gardeners the ability to more fully engage in the look and function of their garden.

Summer is also a good time to keep a look out for invasive weeds that will take advantage of warmer temperatures. Typically we talk about “cool season” and “warm season” weeds because each season will have different weedy culprits. This is why it is suggested that gardeners plan to weed in spring and summer. If you get into the habit of perusing your garden on a semi-regular basis, then this may not even be necessary as you may have developed the habit of taking a couple of minutes to pull out the weeds as you go. This approach is hardly a chore at all and more like a pleasurable little moment of time spent in the garden.  Should it happen that this habit is not entirely working, then it is at least important to plan at least some summer weeding to avoid the headache of tree saplings getting to large for easy removal.


Autumn is a good time to get at any of the weedy invasives that you may have missed during the summer. Make sure to inspect the garden for any invasive trees or turf grass that has made its way into the garden. By now gardeners can start to think about how they would like to leave their garden for the winter. Many native and ornamental grasses and sedge species can be particularly beautiful during the winter months. There are also many varieties of perennials that look attractive after they have gone dormant and seeds from these plants can be a good source of food for over-wintering birds. Remember that “duff” can be left all winter and removed as part of spring maintenance, but it also possible to remove anything that may be unattractive in the garden over the winter months. It is an aesthetic judgment that gardeners can make depending upon their own preference.

Another good thing to think about in late autumn and into the winter months is pruning shrubs that you may have in your garden. Prune shrubs after they have lost all of their leaves and have gone dormant for the winter. It is best to prune no more than 30% of living tissue from any shrub at a time. Remember that pruning is strictly an aesthetic practice. Many shrubs look fantastic if left alone until they have reached their mature size, so research your shrub species to learn about their height and width at maturity. Ultimately, however, shrubs can be pruned to fit a gardeners aesthetic preference so fastidious pruning can be an activity that gardeners use to create a desired look.

‘Garden’ is both a noun and a verb

One final note regarding raingardens…a garden is a noun and a verb. It is a place in your yard, but it is also the act of caring for that place in your yard. It is often the case that raingardens are planted and then left on their own with no maintenance. This results in an unsightly, weedy mess that for all intents and purposes is not in fact a raingarden at all. To have a raingarden implies the action of gardening. Gardening is maintenance… It is the care required in order for there to be a garden. Remember that gardening is as much of a chore as one makes it. With a little bit of effort, gardening can be a very rewarding experience!!

Green Streets for Blue Waters

Hello All,

We would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the participants of the Bloomington Green Streets for Blue Waters program for taking part in this important project and give everyone else a quick overview of all that’s been accomplished!

Over the last two years, Metro Blooms, in partnership with the City of Bloomington and the Lower Minnesota River Watershed District, worked with residents to design and install a vegetated bioswale and 18 curb cut raingardens in Bloomington neighborhoods that drain to the Minnesota River.

Bloomington GSBW 2013-14

Curb cut raingardens are uniq20140919_101426ue in that they not only capture runoff from the property itself but from the street as well.  The project area was selected because it is adjacent to the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge. Individual sites were selected based on site suitability and resident participation. In total, during an average year with 30″ of rainfall, the completed practices:

  • Treat stormwater runoff from 55.42 acres
  • Remove over 3,500 pounds of solids
  • Remove 8.5 pounds of phosphorous and
  • Infiltrate 1.9 million gallons of runoff

The solids and phosphorus removed would otherwise end up in the Minnesota River, causing algae blooms which deplete oxygen and diminish aquatic habitat when they decompose. The millions of gallons of runoff infiltrated reduces flooding and recharges groundwater to ultimately reach the Minnesota River clean and cool.  In addition the bioswale and raingardens beautify City neighborhoods and provide habitat for pollinators and other wildlife.  This project was made possible by funds from the Clean Water Land and Legacy Amendment and local matching funds.

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