When Marge Sagstetter and her husband Steve decided to move to Oakdale after 25 years in Lake Elmo, they took more than just their interior furnishings with them. Marge, a Master Gardener, had spent years lovingly cultivating and tending to gardens at her old home and, though she looked forward to a lower maintenance yard in Oakdale, she just had to bring a few flowers and ornamental grasses along with them when they moved.
Though the Sagstetters have only had one year to begin transforming their new yard, you wouldn’t guess that if you visit them. A border of native flowers wraps around the backyard, helping the yard to blend seamlessly with a wetland complex behind their home. Shortly after moving in last year, Marge scheduled a site visit with Tara Kline from the Washington Conservation District to get advice about managing her rooftop drainage to protect the wetland from runoff pollution. Though a front yard raingarden proved to be too difficult to install due to buried utilities, the Sagstetters redirected several downspouts into buried pipes with pop-ups so that water from the roof would flow away from the house and into vegetated areas. With help from Kline, they received a grant from the Valley Branch Watershed District to plant natives along the wetland edge. They also built a dry stream and mini-raingarden on the other side of the backyard. Other artistic touches include a new stairway, designed using railroad ties and gravel repurposed from the original landscaping, and a charming collection of garden art and décor.
For many people, transforming their own yard would be challenge enough, but Marge is an ambitious person with a friendly, outgoing disposition. After talking to the church across the street, she installed a Little Free Library for people in the neighborhood who use the walking trail. She also borrowed a storm drain stenciling kit to mark the street near her home with the message, “Dump no waste. Drains to wetland.” “Lots of people don’t even realize that it’s bad to leave grass clippings in the street,” she says. “Once they realize that yard waste can cause algae blooms in local waterways, most people will sweep it up.”
On Tuesday, Aug. 4, 6:30-8pm, Marge and Steve Sagstetter will invite neighbors and interested community members to join them for an educational event in partnership with the East Metro Water Resource Education Program, Minnesota Master Gardeners, and the City of Oakdale. An Oakdale Evening in the Garden will be a free, fun way for people to learn about gardening, pollinators, and local water resources, as well as how to tap into free site visits and grants available through the Conservation District and local Watershed Districts. In addition to Master Gardeners and Conservation District staff, a local Girl Scout Troop will be there with information about keeping water clean.
The event is perfect timing, as two of the Watershed Districts encompassing Oakdale – Ramsey-Washington Metro and Valley Branch – have significant amounts of funding left in their cost-share budgets for 2015. Both districts provide grants to help people with projects such as raingardens, native gardens, and lakeshore/wetland edge plantings that help to protect water resources from runoff pollution and improve wildlife and pollinator habitat. Valley Branch Watershed District also provides grants to help people with at least one-half acre of land adjacent to a DNR-protected water body to remove invasive buckthorn. In addition, the City of Oakdale recently compiled a raingarden guide for interested homeowners.
An Oakdale Evening in the Garden will be held Tue., Aug. 4m 6:30-8pm at 1625 Hydram Ave. N in Oakdale. RSVP to Marge Sagstetter at firstname.lastname@example.org. Learn more about Ramsey-Washington Metro Watershed District’s grant programs at www.rwmwd.org. Learn more about Valley Branch Watershed District’s grant programs at www.vbwd.org/GrantForms.htm.