For over ten years, we have been teaching residents throughout Minnesota how to plan, design, install, and maintain their own resilient yard. We began in 2007 by talking about a relatively new idea—a little thing called a “raingarden.” Over time, we incorporated what we learned about pollinators and other wildlife, lawn care, trees and shrubs, healthy soils, sustainable landcare, and more into our educational programs.
We offer a suite of workshops that promote actions that home gardeners can easily take to make their yards more resilient and help the environment. In June 2019 we welcomed our 10,000th workshop participant! Every year we add new material. In 2020 we had more information about planting for pollinators as part of our Blue Thumb partnership with the Board of Water and Soil Resources Lawns to Legumes program offering support to Minnesotans to create pollinator habitat.
Our Resilient Yards Workshop provides a framework for understanding and creating resilience, covering site planning, raingardens, turf alternatives, trees, other plantings, pollinator habitat, and more.
Our Turf Alternatives Workshop provides other options to conventional turf lawns, such as fine fescues and pollinator-friendly (bee) lawns., which require less watering and fewer chemical inputs. The workshop provides step-by-step instructions for establishing them.
Our Healthy Soils Workshop lays the groundwork for healthy soil. Healthy soil helps plants thrive, filters and cleans water, prevents erosion and is teeming with life. Participants learn why healthy soil is the foundation of a resilient yard and how to take action to strengthen and protect their soil.
Sustainable Landcare Training
As with all other landscaping, raingardens and native plantings need care. We offer a Sustainable Landcare Training program to teach youths, young adults and landscape professionals how to properly care for raingardens, native plant gardens, and other vegetated best management practices in stormwater. Trainees can attend a three-part certificate program that covers stormwater basics, understanding site hydrology, stormwater BMP inspections, the value of native plants, phenology and other related topics. Participants who complete the course receive a Sustainable Landcare certificate and a field guide. In addition, we offer site-specific training for people who want to learn to maintain one particular site.
Blue Thumb—Planting for Clean Water
In 2015, Metro Blooms began coordinating the Blue Thumb—Planting for Clean Water program and partnership. With a strong base of partners in the Metro area, Southeast Minnesota, and beyond, Blue Thumb is a way for various watersheds, cities, SWCDs, native plant nurseries, ecologically-minded landscape designers and installers, and more to share knowledge, consistent messages, and resources, all in the service of helping folks get more native plants and other clean-water practices in the ground.
Lawns to Legumes
In 2019, the Minnesota Board of Soil and Water Resources began the Lawns to Legumes program with funding through the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund. Blue Thumb was selected as a partner to help individuals across the state learn about and install pollinator habitat.