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Maplewood Seasons The Greening of Maplewood


A Sustainable Landscape For The Nature Center

stored in large rain barrels and used to water three rain gardens. • The stone rain canal carries water from rain barrels to the gardens with a turn of the tap. • Pervious pavers allow rain and snow melt to By Jan Hayman, Naturalist and Ginny percolate into the gravel beneath. No more Gaynor, Natural Resources Coordinator standing water or icy patio conditions. • The rain planter is an elegant structure In 2008, the Maplewood of sculpted concrete. City Council approved major “The Maplewood Nature Center is one Rainwater from the roof landscape renovations for of the city’s key demonstration site-for makes its way through the Maplewood Nature environmentally-friendly landscape the downspout, down a Center. Drainage problems techniques.” rain chain, and splashes at the site had led to over a rock into the planter. standing water after rainfalls, • Native plants useful for their adaptability, concerns for safety, potential for property wildlife value, and aesthetic qualities will be damage, and degradation of Green Heron planted in rain gardens, the picnic area, and a Pond. It was time to manage rainwater on wildlife shelterbelt. the site and enhance the landscape so it could serve as one of the city’s key demEnhanced play and picnicking area include: onstration sites for environmentally-friendly • A trail with footbridges lead families past butlandscape techniques. terfly and rain gardens to the oak grove, bird watching areas, and onward to the pond and The Nature Center’s sustainable landscape woodland trails. project has three main objectives: 1) use • A nature play area, still in development, will creative solutions to manage stormwater on feature a naturalistic climbing structure for the site, 2) demonstrate sustainable landyoung children. scape design and practices, and 3) enhance • A small amphitheater serves as an outdoor visitors’ experience and use of the yard. classroom. This semi-circle of large limestone The hardscape was completed in 2008. blocks provides seating for presentations and This spring and summer, staff and picnickers, and stepping stones for kids. volunteers will plant the gardens. In future years, interpretive signs and additional The new landscape was made possible with exhibits will be added. capital improvement funds from the city and grant assistance from Ramsey-Washington The sustainable landscaping Metro Watershed District. Stop by the demonstrations include: Nature Center this year to explore this • Rainwater from the visitor center roof is new landscape.

Woodland Blue Phlox- a native Minnesota wildflower

May Day Celebration and Ribbon Cutting

Friday, May 1, 4:30-6:30PM at the Maplewood Nature Center 2659 East 7th Street See the new and improved landscape! Even though the gardens are not planted, this is a great time to enjoy music, refreshments, and tours of the landscape.

A rain chain directs roof runoff in the rain planter.

The rain canal takes water from a rain barrel to the rain garden.

A semi-circle of limestone blocks forms an outdoor classroom.

Resident Spotlight: Woodland Garden

Shann Finwall, Environmental Planner Lori and Paul Benassi of 975 Kohlman Lane have lived in Maplewood since 1991. Over the last 15 years Lori has undertaken a woodland garden landscape project on their half-acre lot. Lori began the project by removing all invasive species including buckthorn, honeysuckle, Canada thistle, and poison ivy. Lori states that “the invasive species removal was the most difficult part of the project, especially removing the large amount of buckthorn on the property.” Woodland Garden

Once the invasive plants were removed volunteer trees (hemlock, balsam fir, river birch) were allowed to grow until the Benassi’s grass area was reduced by 50%. Shade tolerant plants such as Jack-in-the-pulpit grew back naturally, and other natives such as bloodroot, trillium and meadow rue were planted under the trees to create a woodland garden. Lori states that, “the native plantings and reduction in grass have reduced their water use, yard maintenance, and mowing time. It has also created wildlife habitat where they have enjoyed viewing deer, fox, turkeys, pheasants, owls, raccoons, opossums, cardinals, wrens, orioles and finches.”

Its Raining, Its Pouring, Where’s Your Water Going?

Coming soon! The City of Maplewood is offering 55 gallon RAIN BARRELS at a reduced rate for all Maplewood residents. These barrels are made from recycled plastic and will allow you to collect rainwater from your rooftop for use in your landscaping. For details go to

The Ramsey-Washington Metro Watershed District (RWMWD) awarded the Benassis a Landscape Ecology Award in 2008 for their woodland garden. The Landscape Ecology Award Program (LEAP) recognizes landowners for innovative landscaping that reduces water runoff and creates natural areas for wildlife. When asked for advice on how other homeowners could start a sustainable landscape project, Lori advises, “just take one area at a time and keep adding to it.” Since the LEAP award creation in 2002, RWMWD has awarded over 50 LEAP sites throughout the watershed, 24 are in Maplewood. To view the Benassi’s woodland garden and other LEAP award recipients, or to learn more about the program, visit the RWMWD website at

Sustainable Landscaping For Your Yard As we head into spring, avid gardeners are browsing nursery catalogs and planning their gardens; and many of them are reconsidering their approach to gardening. Some of our landscaping traditions are hard on the environment. When you consider that a riding lawn mower emits as much pollution in an hour as 34 cars, or that home lawns account for 30% of water use in the eastern United States and 60% in the west (Environmental Protection Agency,, then it becomes clear that personal choices in landscaping can affect air quality, water quality, and other environmental systems.

By Virginia Gaynor, Natural Resources Coordinator There are several ways to reduce negaleaves, and grass clippings. To add tive environmental impacts in landscaping: nutrients back, gardeners fertilize, often with converting to low-impact lawn care, planting petroleum-based products. Some ways to drought-tolerant native plants, or installing bring nutrient cycling back into your landnaturalized gardens are just a few methods. scape include letting grass clippings fall into One approach that incorporates many of these the lawn, starting a compost pile for dead practices is called sustainable landscaping. plants and using the compost on your gardens, or starting a shade garden under Sustainable landscaping looks at how natural the canopy of a tree so you don’t have to systems function and uses those as rake away leaves. The benefits of sustainmodels for home and commercial landable landscapes are that, once established, scapes. It emulates systems such as the these landscapes rarely need watering, water, nutrient, and carbon cycles, or interac- fertilizing, or pesticide treatments. tions between plants, animals, bacteria, and fungi. Take, for example, the cycling of To learn more, register for the Nature minerals and nutrients in the soil. In natural Center’s Wild Gardens - Taking Cues from systems, as plants die they decompose and Nature program to be held Saturday, April 25 give nutrients back to the soil. Traditional from 10:00AM to 4:00PM, $20/person, gardening practices, on the other hand, pre-registration required. Call the Nature usually remove dead vegetation, fallen Center at 651-249-2170 for details. Maplewood Seasons 2

Financial Incentives for Your Sustainable Landscape Project

By Shann Finwall, Environmental Planner Watershed District Grants Maplewood is located within three watershed districts: Ramsey-Washington Metro Watershed District, Valley Branch, and Capitol Region. All three watershed districts offer matching grant programs for property improvements that protect and improve water and natural resources within the watershed. Eligible projects include rain gardens, rain barrels, or native habitat restoration. The grants are available to residents, nonprofit and religious organizations, schools, government agencies and businesses. Maplewood Environmental Utility Fee Credits The more hard surface on a parcel (including driveways, parking lots, and rooftops), the more runoff and/or pollutant load that enters the city’s storm water system. The city finances a portion of constructing, operating, and maintaining storm water facilities to deal with this runoff through an Environmental Utility Fee (EUF). The fee is charged against all developed parcels. Residents and businesses can apply for a credit reduction in their EUF if they use best management practices such as rain gardens, pervious driveways, or pervious parking lots. Residential properties are eligible for a 30% reduction and nonresidential properties can qualify for up to a 75% reduction if they reduce the amount of stormwater leaving the site by at least 20%. For more information on these financial incentives for your sustainable landscape project, visit the city’s website at

Trees Portray Maplewood’s Green Infrastructure

By Virginia Gaynor, Natural Resources Coordinator People love trees for their aesthetics and the enjoyment they bring. Trees also provide invaluable environmental services and are part of the city’s green infrastructure–the natural features that are essential for our city’s survival. Maplewood’s Tree program helps protect and manage trees and woodlots in the city. Disease Trees: The city contracts a tree inspector for Dutch Elm, Oak Wilt, and new diseases. Managing City Trees: City staff care for trees on public land. Tree Preservation: The tree preservation ordinance requires protection or replacement of trees during development. Tree Planting and Rebates: Maplewood’s tree fund helps support tree planting throughout the city. In 2008, residents purchased and planted 107 trees through the city’s new tree planting rebate program. The fund also assists the city in our tree program goal of conducting at least one tree planting project each year on public land. Tree Education: The Nature Center offers tree programs such as the Minnesota Native Trees and Shrubs workshop (April 1st), Kids Tree Quest (anytime), or Celebrate Heritiage Trees event (May 2nd). Heritage Trees: If you have a large tree in your yard, register it in Maplewood’s Heritage Tree registry. One of the biggest trees in the registry so far is a red oak at the Nature Center. It measures 88 feet high and has a circumference of 168 inches. For more information on Maplewood’s Tree program, see Maplewood Seasons 3

Volunteers Make A Grand Contribution To The Environment

In 2008, volunteers contributed over 2,500 hours of their time to work on environmental projects throughout the City of Maplewood. One example is the 88 trees planted on city property by Woodbury High Students volunteers last year at the Maplewood Public Works Building and McMenemy Firestation. Contributing groups for tree planting were Century College students, Woodbury High School students, and individual volunteers. Volunteers do make a difference for the environment in the City of Maplewood. Contact Oakley Biesanz, Volunteer Coordinator, to find out more about volunteering: 651-249-2173. Nature Photo Contest Get outdoors and into Maplewood’s natural areas this spring! ‘Friends of Maplewood Nature’ is sponsoring their first annual photography contest. The winning photographs will be included in the Friends’ second annual calendar (2010). Eligible photos must be taken at the Maplewood Nature Center or at one of Maplewood’s 13 Neighborhood Preserves. Anyone is eligible to participate and each participant may submit up to a maximum of ten images by May 15, 2009. Rules and entry forms are posted on the city’s website at (Nature Center quick links).

By Ann Hutchinson, Lead Naturalist I know its spring because it’s the dating season ….. for birds. All February, I wake up to the love song of the black-capped chickadee, a long high pitched whistle ending on two lower notes: “Hiiiiiiiii cutie”. I’m happy to know that this feisty male is singing in response to the longer hours of daylight, heralding winter’s release. As March winds blow, they bring with them scores of waterfowl with names like goldeneye and bufflehead. In partnership with St. Paul Audubon, the nature center is offering six adult bird identification classes. The evening classes and Saturday fieldtrips taught by birding experts present a unique learning opportunity. Visit the city’s website at for details.

Photo by Greg Gillson

Spring Notes

Black-capped chickadee

“What should I do with this baby duck, squirrel, or bird?” is an often-asked question during spring. Although it’s tempting to help baby animals, it is usually best to leave them where they are. Ducklings are “precocious”, meaning that ducks and other waterfowl can swim and eat by themselves within hours of hatching. Ducklings visually imprint on any moving object up to 20 hours after hatching, even a teddy bear! This innate behavior is beneficial to the duck since the first thing it sees is its mother. However, if it spots you, or your child, it will follow you instead. While limited contact with humans is important with all baby animals, you may move a fledgling, a young songbird with feathers trying out its new wings, from the ground and place it on a tree branch out of range of cats and dogs (urban wildlife’s most common and egregious predators) without worry of imprinting. Observe songbird babies closely. If it is a nestling without feathers that has dropped out of a nest simply pick it up and put it back in. It is a myth that your human scent will scare the parents away. The Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Roseville ( will accept orphaned and injured animals. Maplewood Nature Center does not have the facilities to care for these animals.

Green Heron


Baby Animal Game:

Spring is the season when everything comes to life. Many baby animals are born in the spring. Baby animals are so cute they deserve special names. Can you give the baby name of the animals below? Then during your spring outdoor adventures, look for these animals and share the names with your friends.

5. Raccoon__________________

2. Duck __________________

4. Owl ____________________

6. Bird ____________________

Maplewood Seasons 4

Printed on 30% post-consumer waste paper

3. Goose___________________

Answers: 1- Fawn 2- Duckling 3-Gosling 4-Owlet 5-Kit 6-Fledgling

1. Deer ___________________

Profile for Maplewood

2009 - Spring  

2009 - Spring

2009 - Spring  

2009 - Spring