Plant Sales, Workshops and Cleanups: Our Complete Spring 2019 Guide

The snow is melting, the ice dams are finally gone, and stormwater outfalls are gushing 30 cubic feet per second of runoff into the Mississippi River. All signs point to spring, which means it’s time for the MWMO’s annual list of springtime watershed happenings.

A Northeast Minneapolis stormwater outfall, discharging approximately 30 cubic feet per second of water, on a rainy day in March.
A sure sign of spring: a Northeast Minneapolis stormwater outfall discharging large volumes of runoff into the Mississippi River.

First, we’d like to begin this year’s update with a call to action: As the photo at right so vividly illustrates, spring is a dirty time of year for Minnesota rivers and lakes. All the accumulated road salt, sand, dirt and trash that has piled up over the winter is now being flushed through stormpipes into our waterbodies. The good news is that you can have a direct personal impact on the amount of this pollution that reaches our waters.

To keep these pollutants out of waterbodies, please consider adding the stormdrain and gutter in your street to your spring cleaning to-do list. Sweep up the leftover salt and sand you find there; you can put it in a bucket and stick it in the garage to save and reuse next winter. Also, just like in the fall, remember to rake up any leaves that have fallen in the street. Don’t wait for the street sweepers to clean it up; by the time they arrive, many of the pollutants in the street will already have found their way to a nearby river or lake. Be a watershed hero like Joe Knaeble and sweep it up before it’s too late.

Once again, to kick-start your spring cleaning and landscaping projects, we’ve put together a list of plant sales, workshops and volunteer opportunities in the Twin Cities metro area. Of course, there’s always a chance that we missed a few, so use the comments section to let us know of any others you don’t see here.

Score Some Native Plants at These Plant Sales

A backyard filled with native plants and flowers.
Want a backyard filled with pollinator-friendly native plants like this? Spring is a great time to get them on sale.

Our yards can be a powerful force for preventing pollution, providing pollinator habitat and even fighting climate change. And spring is the right time of year to start planning some earth-friendly changes to your yard. Whether you want to install a raingarden, plant some native perennials, add a rainbarrel or plant a tree, this is a great time to snag some good deals.

Mark your calendars for these upcoming plant sales, where you’ll be able to find a wide variety of native plants (as well as trees and vegetables) at a relatively low cost. Some offer online pre-sales, so check each link for details. If you can’t attend a sale or would rather purchase directly from a retailer, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources maintains lists of native plant suppliers in the state. (No matter where you shop, be sure to ask for plants that have been raised “without neonictides.” Plants with these chemicals actually hurt bees and potentially other pollinators.)

Sale Date Location
Spark-Y Online Plant Pre-Sale Order by April 1 Online
Anoka Conservation District Tree and Shrub Sale Order by April 11 Online
Wild Ones Twin Cities Native Plant Sale Order by May 21 Online
Friends School Plant Sale May 10-12 St. Paul
Minnesota Landscape Arboretum Auxiliary Plant Sale May 11-12 Chanhassen
Anoka County Master Gardeners May 14-15 Anoka
Hennepin County Master Gardeners May 18 Minneapolis
Burnsville Native Plant Market May 18 Burnsville
Ramsey County Master Gardeners May 18 Maplewood
Washington County Master Gardeners May 19 Lake Elmo
Wild Ones Big River Chapter May 26 (plus online pre-sale) Roseville
2018 Landscape Revival: Native Plant Expo & Market June 1 Shoreview
2018 Landscape Revival: Native Plant Expo & Market June 8 Oakdale

Add a Rainbarrel or Compost Bin

Rainbarrels are a great way to turn your stormwater runoff into a resource, and they're on sale right now.
Rainbarrels are a great way to turn runoff into a resource, and they’re on sale right now. (Photo: Clean Water MN)

Rainbarrels capture stormwater runoff from rooftops and store it so that it can be reused for irrigating plants during dry spells. In addition to reducing the amount of potable water used for watering plants, rainbarrels also help add capacity to city stormsewer systems by capturing part of the “first flush” of a rain event.

Each spring, the Recycling Association of Minnesota partners with other nonprofits and local governments to offer high-quality, affordable rainbarrels and compost bins. The products can be ordered online and picked up at any of several events around the Twin Cities metro area.

If you forget or miss out on the sale, don’t worry. Most home improvement stores sell rainbarrels in a variety of shapes and sizes. Do a little research and figure out what kind of setup will work best for your yard.

Attend a Raingarden or Landscaping Workshop

Once again, Metro Blooms is hosting a series of workshops on eco-friendly yard care throughout the spring and summer. They have three different offerings:

  • “Creating Your Resilient Yard” covers subjects like raingarden installation, stormwater management, and tree, shrub, flower and turf alternative recommendations.
  • “Installing Turf Alternatives” focuses on alternative ground covers that “minimize the need for irrigation and chemical inputs while maximizing ecological benefits.”
  • “Fostering Healthy Soils” dives deep into subjects like preventing soil erosion and compaction, chemical applications and runoff.

Some workshops are free; others charge a per-household fee. Click on the links for event details. (Please note that the MWMO is not affiliated with these classes; questions and comments should be directed to the event organizers.)

Workshop Organizer Date and Time Location
Installing Turf Alternatives Metro Blooms March 28, 6:30-8:30 p.m. Minneapolis (Lynnhurst)
Fostering Healthy Soils Metro Blooms April 3, 6:00-7:30 p.m. Minneapolis (Longfellow)
Creating Your Resilient Yard Metro Blooms April 4, 6:00-8:30 p.m. Champlin
Creating Your Resilient Yard Metro Blooms April 9, 6:00-8:30 p.m. Edina
Installing Turf Alternatives Metro Blooms April 9, 6:00-7:30 p.m. St. Louis Park
Installing Turf Alternatives Metro Blooms April 11, 6:00-7:30 p.m. Edina
Tree Steward Class Hennepin County April 13, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Plymouth
Fostering Healthy Soils Metro Blooms April 16, 6:00-7:30 p.m. Minneapolis (Audubon)
Creating Your Resilient Yard Metro Blooms April 18, 6:00-8:30 p.m. Minneapolis (Northeast)
Creating Your Resilient Yard Metro Blooms April 23, 6:00-8:30 p.m. Minneapolis (Audubon)
Rainbarrel and Home Energy Squad Workshops City of St. Anthony Village April 25, 5:45-7:45 p.m. St. Anthony Village
Creating Your Resilient Yard Metro Blooms April 25, 6:00-8:30 p.m. Minneapolis (Longfellow)
Fostering Healthy Soils Metro Blooms April 30, 6:00-7:30 p.m. St. Louis Park
Creating Your Resilient Yard Metro Blooms May 2, 6:00-8:30 p.m. Plymouth
Installing Turf Alternatives Metro Blooms May 8, 6:00-7:30 p.m. Minneapolis (Longfellow)
Creating Your Resilient Yard Metro Blooms May 9, 6:00-8:30 p.m. Crystal
Creating Your Resilient Yard Metro Blooms May 11, 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Minneapolis (North)
Fostering Healthy Soils Metro Blooms May 14, 6:30-8:00 p.m. Minneapolis (Lynnhurst)
Installing Turf Alternatives Metro Blooms May 18, 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Minneapolis (North)
Fostering Healthy Soils Metro Blooms May 22, 6:00-7:30 p.m. Golden Valley
Creating Your Resilient Yard Metro Blooms June 5, 6:00-8:30 p.m. Minneapolis (Armatage)
Installing Turf Alternatives Metro Blooms June 6, 6:00-7:30 p.m. Minneapolis (Northeast)

Help Clean Up the Watershed

Volunteers from the St. Anthony Park neighborhood showing off trash they pulled from the Kasota Ponds at their annual cleanup event.
Volunteers from the St. Anthony Park neighborhood showing off trash they pulled from the Kasota Ponds at their annual cleanup event.

Springtime cleanups are back — and this year, they even have their own social media hashtag! Show off your trash-cleaning prowess this spring by sharing photos of your efforts with the hashtag #trashtag on your favorite social media channel. (Bonus: use the hashtags #mwmo or #mwmoGoodNeighbor and we’ll retweet you!)

Columbia Heights Earth Day Cleanup — April 20

In Columbia Heights, HeightsNEXT and the Lions Club are hosting an Earth Day cleanup event on Saturday, April 20, starting at John P. Murzyn Hall (across from Columbia Heights City Hall) from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. HeightsNEXT has set up a Facebook event page with details.

Minneapolis Earth Day Cleanups — April 20

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) is once again hosting its annual Earth Day cleanup events Saturday, April 20, at a number of parks located all around the city. The cleanups will run from 9:30 a.m. to noon. Participation is free and no registration is required. Exact locations will be posted on the MPRB website.

Also on April 20, the Great River Coalition is partnering with MPRB, the National Park Service and the MWMO to hold their annual 5K Bee Run/Walk/River Cleanup event starting at Boom Island Park at 9 a.m. Be sure to visit educational sites at the event, including the MWMO’s booth. Talk to our staff and pick up a free Good Neighbor Guide.

St. Paul Citywide Cleanups — April 27

St. Paul residents can participate in citywide cleanup events at any of 12 different cleanup sites around the city on April 27

Residents of the St. Anthony Park neighborhood can also help out at the upcoming annual Kasota Ponds cleanup on April 27. Watch the St. Anthony Park Community Council website for details. In the past, volunteers have removed an astonishing amount of trash from these small wetlands.

Help Remove Invasive Plants

Friends of the Mississippi River is leading a number of volunteer events to remove invasive plants from parks around the Twin Cities metro area. Check FMR’s events page for the latest opportunities.

Visit with MWMO Staff at These Upcoming Events

North Housing Fair — March 23, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Host: Cleveland Neighborhood Association

Description: Your one-stop shop for all your housing needs — whether you’re a renter, homeowner or anything in between. All are welcome! More than 50 organizations and resource tables will be present. The MWMO will table about stormwater topics: native plants, downspout redirection, and dog waste pickup.

Location: Lucy Craft Laney Elementary School, 2222 Penn Ave N, 55412

Details: http://www.northhousingfair.com/

North Metro Home & Outdoor Adventure Expo — March 23, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Host: MetroNorth Chamber of Commerce

Description: Experience dozens of unique vendors, including features on luxury vinyl flooring, travel ideas, beautiful portrait photography, unique plants and gardens, hunting tips, and winter activities. The Rice Creek Watershed District, Coon Creek Watershed District, Anoka Conservation District and the MWMO are tabling together. See our presentation at 1:30 p.m., “Protect Your Special Places and Spaces.” Learn tips, tricks and trivia to make your yard and special places beautiful, healthy and more sustainable for people, property, wildlife and waterbodies.

Location: Blaine National Sports Center, 1700 105th Ave NE, Blaine, MN 55449

Details: https://www.metronorthchamber.org/events/details/north-metro-home-outdoor-adventure-expo-187128

‘Riverlines’ Artist’s Talk and Reception with Annie Hejny — April 6, 1 p.m. – 3 p.m.

Host: MWMO

Description: Join local artist Annie Hejny for a reflective artist talk on Saturday, April 6. Through images and stories, Hejny will share her journey of how working with local water and sediment has inspired her creative life. This public event includes reflective writing, group sharing and a walk to the Mississippi River shoreline. All participant materials will be provided, including light refreshments.

Location: MWMO Stormwater Park and Learning Center, 2522 Marshall Street NE, Minneapolis, MN 55418

Details: https://www.mwmo.org/events/riverlines-artists-talk-and-reception/

Fridley Environmental Fun Fair and Fix-It Clinic — May 4, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Host: City of Fridley

Description: Attend Fridley’s third annual Environmental Fun Fair, co-sponsored by Anoka 4-H! This is a free event that is family-friendly, including: arts and crafts; interactive exhibitors; trail side displays; hands-on learning; and electric vehicles. The Fix-It Clinic also returns this year at the event from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Location: Springbrook Nature Center, 100 85th Ave., N.E., Fridley, MN 55432

Details: http://springbrooknaturecenter.org/855/Springbrook-Calendar

Share the River Nordeast 2019 — June 26, 5 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Host: MWMO

Description: Join us for an evening of community, canoeing and cookies! Stop by anytime between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. for a free introductory canoe ride on the Mississippi River, then grab a free cookie from Cookie Cart and enjoy a variety of fun and educational activities at our Stormwater Park and Learning Center. This family-friendly event is great for kids and adults of all ages. (Please note that you must weigh at least 30 lbs. in order to fit the provided life jackets.)

Location: MWMO Stormwater Park and Learning Center, 2522 Marshall Street NE, Minneapolis, MN 55418

Details: Coming Soon

Other Events to Add to Your Calendar

Arbor Day

On Friday, April 26, Theodore Wirth Regional Park will host Minneapolis’ annual Arbor Day celebration, with tree-themed activities and educational opportunities, music, food, beer and more. You can also help arborists from the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board plant more than 200 trees.

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