Neighborhood Projects

For over ten years, we have worked with neighborhoods, cities, and so many other partners to install accessible and functional projects with their residents.

Neighborhood of Raingardens

We partner with neighborhoods and cities to make it easier and less expensive for residents to get a raingarden in their yard, working with partners to create a program that fits each community best . . .

We partner with neighborhoods and cities to make it easier and less expensive for residents to get a raingarden in their yard, working with partners to create a program that fits each community best. This program builds community awareness about clean water projects and supports our partners in helping their communities create resilient landscapes. In a little over a decade, Neighborhood of Raingardens has brought well over 1000 raingardens and native plantings to dozens of Minneapolis neighborhoods and other nearby cities. You can see some examples in our project gallery.

Why raingardens?

A raingarden is very much like other plantings but with a few important differences. It is a shallow depression that captures rainwater runoff, intercepting and filtering runoff. Otherwise the water would flow down driveways, streets and sidewalks, collecting pollutants before entering storm drains that empty into nearby lakes and streams. A raingarden stores and absorbs rainwater, which is taken up by the long roots of native plants or soaks deep into the earth. These actions help to break down pollutants, cleaning the water. Since they are typically planted with native plantings, raingardens provide habitat for pollinators and other wildlife. This includes Minnesota’s state bee, the endangered rusty patched bumble bee. 🐝

Raingardens are not only functional but also beautiful. Learn more about them on our Resources page.

We tailor programming to fit your goals

  • If your community also wants to include the goal of protecting pollinators, this program is a great fit.
  • If you would like to engage community members who might not be likely to participate (including renters and underserved residents, among others), we can help you do this. For example, you might be interested in including some native-plant container gardens for renters who don’t have land access or people with less mobility who want a garden space.
  • We offer “raingarden refresh” consults! We’re lucky to work in some communities year after year. We can revisit previously planted raingardens with residents to check the raingarden, offer tips, do some weeding and replace plants or other elements.
  • We can offer a program for 5 participants, or 35.

How a typical raingarden program works

In a Neighborhood of Raingardens, typically one of our designers does a site consult with each participant to plan the project, then creates a design. The Conservation Corps MN & Iowa (CCM) provides crew time to excavate and mulch the gardens. We order the plants and residents do the planting, guided by our design.

This is a cost-share program: Cities and neighborhoods pay a share of our work. In some cases they may be eligible for grants, and we can help them apply. Resident participants also pay a share, often part of the consultation fee and the cost of the plants. A large share is paid by a Clean Water Fund grant that covers the cost of the CCM crew (typical, though not guaranteed).

Programs vary. One neighborhood gives a community tour of installed gardens. Another one recruited volunteers to help plant the gardens. Still another neighborhood offered residents who received raingardens in the past “raingarden refresh” consultations (see above). What is consistent is that residents play a vital role in protecting water quality, creating habitat and beautifying their neighborhood.

What participants say

“We love our raingarden!”

“Neighbors ask about the garden and I love explaining what’s planted and why. I have wanted to do this for about 20 years and am SO glad to have the opportunity.”

“I just wanted to send a photo of my sweet rain garden. As you can see the intense watering over the heat spell is having rewards. All 51 plants are alive and thriving. Thanks so much for all your expertise!”

“I wanted to send along this photo of our wonderful new raingarden doing its job during the thunderstorm last week. We all really enjoyed watching it fill and drain during the downpour!”

Often this program starts with a motivated citizen interested in taking action in their community. Are you this person? For more information, contact Jennifer Moeller, jmoeller@metroblooms.org.

Affordable Housing

Metro Blooms creates conditions for community stakeholders to be meaningfully involved in creating more resilient landscapes that put equity, environmental justice, resilience and sustainability principles into practice . . .

Metro Blooms creates conditions for community stakeholders to be meaningfully involved in creating more resilient landscapes that put equity, environmental justice, resilience and sustainability principles into practice. We work with local city government and partners to implement stormwater retrofit plans for each site. Typically these projects include installation of raingardens and other best management practices in stormwater, pollinator gardens and removal and/or replacement of ash trees. In response to resident feedback, these projects also often include livability elements such as playgrounds, shade, seating, and nature play. We approach affordable housing projects with an equitable engagement framework. Resident-centered design, installation, and training ensures that decision-making power is shared with residents and the knowledge to care and advocate for the project lies within the community.  This project improves water quality, mitigates localized flooding on site, creates pollinator habitat, enhances livability and provides ongoing education and job-training opportunities for residents and management. Find out more by reading this blog post on equitable engagement or this one on a project in Brooklyn Park.

Learn more about the equitable engagement framework.

Boulevard Bioswales

The Boulevard Bioswales project engages residents in North Minneapolis to convert their traditional turfgrass boulevards into plantings that will improve water quality and provide food for pollinators . . .

The Boulevard Bioswales project engages residents in North Minneapolis to convert their traditional turfgrass boulevards into plantings that will improve water quality and provide food for pollinators.  We partner with local community organizations and volunteer “boulevard captains” to recruit and engage project participants.  In addition to improving the ecological resilience of the neighborhood, this project beautifies the landscape through the planting of flowers, and strengthens the community by bringing neighbors together to work on this project.  Metro Blooms partners with local contractors and youth groups to create job opportunities for installing and planting the bioswales. 

In 2019, Metro Blooms installed over 6,000 square feet of boulevard bioswales throughout North Minneapolis, working with 37 residents to install beautiful, eco-friendly plantings, while strengthening social connections between participants.  Read this blog post about it.

The program is currently not active. In the future, we hope to expand the project to include more residents in the community.  

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