Native Landscaping & Rain Gardens

Native Landscaping

native plant

Golden Valley's lawn maintenance ordinance (City Code Chapter 10-87) allows residents to cultivate native plants in residential lawns.

According to the ordinance, residents who want to vary their landscape need to apply for a Native Vegetation Permit (fee: $100). The permit requires property information along with a description of the work, including:

  • purpose and intent (eg, general yard landscaping or water source buffer zone)
  • detailed site plan, planting plan, and maintenance plan with contact information for responsible person(s)

For more information, contact Public Works at 763-593-8030.

Rain Gardens

A rain garden can cure a dip in your yard, help manage storm water run-off, attract some beautiful visitors (such as butterflies and birds) to your yard, and more. Rain gardens eliminate standing water, make lawns more attractive, reduce lawn maintenance time and costs, and improve water quality. Also called storm water or water quality gardens, rain gardens help water quality by keeping run-off from reaching local waterways and by recharging groundwater supplies.

Understanding A Rain Garden

A rain garden is a sunken garden that imitates nature. The mixture of plants and soil draws water into the ground before it can run-off, either into a basement or the street, where it will enter the storm sewer system and eventually local waterways, such as Bassett Creek. For several years, cities around the country have been installing rain gardens to keep water close to where it falls or melts, reduce run-off into local waterways, and promote water infiltration. Since all water is ultimately connected, having a rain garden, or two or three, is really a way to act locally and have a global impact.

As forests and agricultural land are replaced by development, increased storm water runoff from impervious surfaces increases flooding and carries pollutants from streets, parking lots and lawns into surface water.

By reducing storm water runoff, rain gardens can play a vital role in improving water quality by:

  • helping protect communities from flooding and drainage problems
  • increasing volume of water that filters into the ground, recharging aquifers
  • helping protect surface water like lakes, ponds, and streams, from pollutants carried storm water run-off, such as fertilizers, pesticides, oil, anti-freeze, salt, and other chemicals
  • providing valuable habitat for birds, butterflies, and helpful insects
  • enhancing the beauty of yards and neighborhoods

The Mosquito Myth

Contrary to popular belief, properly constructed rain gardens are not breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Mosquitoes need seven to 12 days to lay and hatch eggs. Rain gardens retain water for a few hours after a storm. In fact, bird baths, storm sewers, and lawns are more likely areas for mosquito eggs than a rain garden. And, as an added bonus, rain gardens attract dragonflies, which eat mosquitoes.

Planning A Rain Garden

If you have property, chances are you can also have a rain garden. Plan to place the garden in a sunken area or an area where water tends to run through quickly after a rain or during snow melt. A single garden can accommodate about five percent of the drainable area (eg, a 25-square-foot garden would accommodate 500 square feet of lawn).

Even with a low starting point, the location must be dug from six inches to four feet deep, depending on the type of soil and volume of run-off water to be dealt with. Because of this, do not place a rain garden over any utilities. Call GopherOne (651-454-0002) to have utilities marked before you begin such a project. Also, since most areas of Golden Valley have clay or silty soils that are not very porous, it may be necessary to amend the soil or install an under drainage system before planting. If those steps are not taken, the garden will not infiltrate and will pond.

When the garden area is ready, plant hardy native wildflowers, grasses, and shrubs that can withstand both very wet conditions and intermittent drought-like conditions. Once established, your rain garden will require little maintenance, and you can sit back and enjoy the wildlife that visits.

City Rain Gardens

The plaza in front of Golden Valley City Hall uses rain gardens to make maintenance easier and eliminate hazards caused by uneven and deteriorated pavers, water ponding, and slippery conditions.City Hall rain garden

Rain garden in front of City Hall