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Awards


Awards/Publications

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Awards


Awards/Publications

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RWMWD


2014 Watershed Excellence Award

RWMWD


2014 Watershed Excellence Award

Left: Brian working with students to plant native prairie plants at the Carol Matheys Center for Children & Families in Oakdale.  Right: Brian accepts the Outstanding Partner Award.

The Outstanding Partner Award  : Brian Nelson

Brian Nelson of Nelco Landscaping was awarded the Outstanding Partner Award. As the landscaping contractor for the Carol Matheys Center for Children & Families in Oakdale, Brian not only designed and installed a raingarden and pavers for the center, but involved the children and their families in the planting and learning about stormwater, raingardens and plants. He helped the center “become stewards of the landscape.” 

Brian also worked with the Washington Conservation District to design landscape features in their new office in Oakdale, including a pervious green “overflow” parking lot with an adjacent bioretention basin and native plantings.

Brian credited his work experience with Metro Blooms and the influences of his mentor Rusty Schmidt and others in the field with helping him shift his priorities to “working on sustainable projects that have the capacity to reap positive impacts a hundred years down the road from now.” District Permit Coordinator Paige Ahlborg presented the award.

Ramsey-Washington Metro Watershed District. "2014 Watershed Excellence Awards Recognize Clean Water Heroes." Web log post. Ramsey Washington Metro Watershed District. N.p., 17 Dec. 2014. Web. 21 Feb. 2015. <http://therippleeffectmn.blogspot.com/2014/12/2014-watershed-excellence-awards.html>.

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Lillie News


Lillie News

Rain Garden at daycare halts flooding prompts learning

Lillie News


Lillie News

Rain Garden at daycare halts flooding prompts learning

Nelco Landscaping staff got the kids from Carol Matheys Center for Children & Families involved with planting native plants in the daycare’s recently completed rain garden in Oakdale. (submitted photo)

Carol Matheys Center for Children and Families has a new rain garden through a grant from the Washington County Conservation District. A rain garden, overflow gardens, and permeable pavers complete the project. (Linda Baumeister/Review)

By: Joshua Nielsen

Nelco Landscaping staff got the kids from Carol Matheys Center for Children & Families involved with planting native plants in the daycare’s recently completed rain garden in Oakdale. (submitted photo)

Carol Matheys Center for Children and Families has a new rain garden through a grant from the Washington County Conservation District. A rain garden, overflow gardens, and permeable pavers complete the project. (Linda Baumeister/Review)

A project to correct drainage problems turned into a learning experience for some pint-sized kids at a daycare center in Oakdale.

The parking lot at Carol Matheys Center for Children & Families -- located just east of Highway 120 on 43rd Street North -- sits in a low-lying area that was prone to flooding after rainstorms.

Carol Matheys executive director Stacie Penn says she contacted the city last year asking what could be done to mitigate the water issues.  City officials put her in touch with the Washington County Conservation District, which provided a grant to install a rain garden along the eastern edge of the parking lot.

Maplewood-based Nelco Landscaping was hired and recently finished the job. Nelco owner Brian Nelson said it was a challenging project due to the amount of heavy clay soil on the property, but says he’s pleased with the way the rain garden turned out.

In total, some 200 cubic yards of material was excavated for the rain garden that features over 700 native plants.

“You want to use a lot of native plants -- that’s the idea -- to bring it back to what it used to be. Native plants grow better, need less water and compete well against other plant species.”

Another reason native plants are used in rain gardens, Nelson explains, is because of their longer roots, which allow water to percolate into the soil. In contrast, most commonly planted non-native grasses have compact roots that allow water to quickly runoff.

The daycare’s rain garden filled with native plants captures stormwater running through much of the property. The water seeps into the ground and eventually reaches an underground pipe. Nelson says after a period of about 24 hours the water is released through the pipe into a nearby pond after much of the contaminants have been filtered out. A valve system controls the amount of water released from the collection area. 

Nelson also installed over 1,500 square feet of permeable pavers in the parking lot, further adding to the storm water management system.  The porous material keeps the parking lot from flooding, reduces runoff and filters out pollutants and soil.

Kids chip in and learn

Penn says Nelson was eager to share his knowledge of storm water management and native plants with the kids at Carol Matheys.

“He came highly recommended (by the Washington Conservation District),” she says. “He did a great job and his willingness to work with kids was equally great.”

Nelson held small instructional classes so the youngsters could learn about planting and what native plants are and how they are useful in controlling erosion. He said he had fun with the kids.

“They were really fantastic to work with,” he says. “It’s important to get the younger generation interested in learning about the importance of this.”

Penn says every child at the daycare, some as young as 3, were able to plant at least one plant in the rain garden.

“They enjoyed it. Kids love to play in the dirt,” Nelson added.

Gardening has roots at daycare

Discovering the benefits of growing fresh produce are part of the nonprofit daycare’s curriculum of having fun while learning.

“The whole learning process with the rain garden has solidified our gardening program,” Penn says.

She says the daycare started the gardening program for its kids a few years ago, when teacher Rebecca Walzak planted a vegetable garden onsite.

The small edible garden has fruits, vegetables and herbs -- sweet potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, sweet peas, corn, watermelon, dill and pumpkins.

Walzak says it’s an early opportunity to teach young children about nutrition and establish life-long healthy eating habits.

“It also teaches them patience, since it takes a while for the food to grow before they can eat it,” she says. 

Penn says during the summer kids are able to enjoy the garden’s bounty during meals that they help prepare.

The youngsters also learn about responsibility. The plants need regular attention, from the initial planting, to weeding and watering.

Walzak says while most kids enjoy the garden, there are around “20 green thumbs” that like helping out with most of the planting and maintenance.

“They’ve all gotten good at not picking the flowers,” she says with a laugh.

Another plus, Walzak says, is that during harvest season kids get to bring home some of the fresh foods they help grow to share with their families. 

Joshua Nielsen can be reached at jnielsen@lillienews.com or 651-748-7824.

Nielsen, Joshua. "Rain Garden at Daycare Halts Flooding, Prompts Learning." Web log post. Rain Garden at Daycare Halts Flooding, Prompts Learning. Lillie News, 7 Sept. 2014. Web. 21 Feb. 2015. <http://lillienews.com/articles/2014/07/09/rain-garden-daycare-halts-flooding-prompts-learning#.VOjj5y4XF10>.

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Stillwater Gazette


Stillwater Gazette

Column: Park on the grass, please

 

Stillwater Gazette


Stillwater Gazette

Column: Park on the grass, please

 

“There goes the neighborhood,” someone surely thought when cars began to pull in and park on the lawn in front of the building. After years of driving through cornfields while visiting with farmers, maybe the conservation district staff forgot how to park between the lines like the rest of the world. Later that summer, a large swath of turf grass north of the building disappeared, giving way to gentle hills where young prairie grasses grow. A phone call was made to the lawn care company, “This won’t be business as usual, you know.”

When the Washington Conservation District moved into a new building in Oakdale three years ago, it immediately recognized the opportunity to demonstrate new ways of managing a commercial landscape. The Washington Conservation Center — shared with the Brown’s Creek Watershed District, Middle St. Croix Watershed Management Organization and several staff from Washington County’s public works department — is located in a traditional business park in Oakdale northeast of the Highway 94 and 694 interchange.

There is a small wetland behind the building with condominiums on the other side. The office buildings are mostly nondescript and each comes with a small parking lot, a wide perimeter of turf grass, and a smattering of accent plants near the parking lot entrance and building foundation. Because of the crisscrossing freeways, you can no longer tell that the surrounding wetlands connect in a chain, with water flowing through culverts and pipes under roads until it reaches Battle Creek Lake on the southwest corner of the interchange. From there, the water flows on to Battle Creek and eventually the Mississippi River.

With an appraising eye, conservation district staff walked their new property, looking for opportunities to treat storm water runoff, protect the wetland and downstream water resources and create habitat for birds and pollinators. They settled on a retrofit design that includes a permeable parking lot, a large rain garden near the wetland, 5,000 square feet of native prairie and native plantings along the building foundation and parking lot entrance. Ramsey-Washington Metro Watershed District provided $100,000 in funding to make the demonstration project possible.

Perhaps the most unique component of Washington Conservation Center’s new landscaping is the 15,325 square-foot overflow parking area in front of the building, which features permeable paver stones, as well as parking stalls planted with grass. When it rains, water soaks through the grass and paver stones into a gravel bed that can hold 783 cubic feet of water — the equivalent of 0.6 inches of rain. The system effectively treats runoff from small storms, which would otherwise wash dirt, grit and oil off of the pavement and into the wetland. During larger rainstorms, water overflows through a buried underdrain and into a swale that flows round the prairie to the wetland.

Though the grassy-pave looks like a lawn from a distance, it is actually a structural system, designed to withstand the weight of cars and trucks without compacting the soil beneath. The process for installation consisted of excavating the ground to create a shallow, square-shaped bowl, 18 inches deep, which was filled with layers of gravel and sand. Two different brands of planting frames — EcoGrid e50 by TerraFirm Enterprises and PG-45 grids by Green Innovations — were laid on top of the gravel bed in rows, and then sod and soil were pressed into the frames. Paver stones were used instead of grass between the two rows of parking stalls. The system was designed by Washington Conservation District and installed by Nelco Landscaping.

District designer Tara Kline hopes that the Conservation Center’s demonstration project will get more business owners thinking about the ways they can modify their parking lots and landscapes to create habitat and protect water resources.

“If you’re planning to fix up your parking lot, it’s a great opportunity to reach out to your local watershed district for advice and assistance,” she said. “Often there are grants to incorporate water-friendly features such as rain gardens, native plantings, and porous pavement, and they can help provide a design as well.”

To learn more about storm water management on commercial properties, contact the Washington Conservation District at mnwcd.org or 651-330-8220 ext. 35. If you come to visit the office, be sure to park on the grass.

Angie Hong is an educator for East Metro Water, mnwcd.org/emwrep. Contact her at 651-330-8220 ext. 35 or angie.hong@mnwcd.org.

Citation:

Hong, Angie. "Column: Park on the Grass, Please." Stillwater Gazette. Stillwater Gazette, 31 May 2016. Web. 01 June 2016.