Rain gardens come alive in Payne-Phalen

St. Paul residents work with volunteers to plant a boulevard rain garden to keep stormwater pollutants out of Lake Phalen. (photo courtesy of Sage Passi/Ramsey Washington Metro Watershed District)
St. Paul residents work with volunteers to plant a boulevard rain garden to keep stormwater pollutants out of Lake Phalen. (photo courtesy of Sage Passi/Ramsey Washington Metro Watershed District)

About 40 new rain gardens appeared in the Payne-Phalen neighborhood over the weekend of May 15-18, thanks to a joint initiative from two local watershed districts as well as the St. Paul Public Works Department.

The city’s public works department has teamed up with Capitol Region Watershed District and Ramsey-Washington Metro Watershed District to put in the gardens in conjunction with road repair projects along Montana Avenue and Greenbrier Street.

While the city is adding new concrete curbs and gutters, restoring sewer drains, boulevard trees, street lighting and other features, it has also teamed up with the watershed districts to install the gardens.

The gardens are designed to prevent pollutants such as trash, salt and leaves from going into storm sewers. When such debris makes it into the storm sewers, it travels directly into local lakes and the Mississippi River, where it pollutes the water.

Rainwater gardens are often planted in the boulevard, which are between the sidewalk and the street, replacing areas that are typically planted with grass.

Thirty-nine volunteers turned up to install 40 rain gardens, which included a wide variety of plants, including wild geraniums, petunias, Pennsylvania sedge, fox sedge, Jacob’s ladder, sedum, butterfly weed, and dotted blazing star.

The public works department paid for the construction of the gardens, while the watershed districts purchased the plants and coordinated the event.

Thanks to this ongoing initiative there are now 235 rain gardens, with more planned for later this summer, and more yet next summer.

— Patrick Larkin

 

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