Let the gardening begin!

Is it time yet? How about now? Or…..now?

Each spring hits a little bit differently. Some years, we’ve been forced to cancel Earth Day clean-up events in late April due to snow; in others, the temps have climbed above 70° in March. Thanks to a relatively early start to spring this year, many people are already beginning to dream about gardens and planting projects. If you are one, read on for a summary of resources and upcoming workshops.

Plan a native garden: Native plants provide food and habitat for birds and pollinators and don’t need irrigation, fertilizer, or lawn chemicals. When strategically planted along shorelines, streambanks, or steep hills, deep-rooted natives can also reduce erosion. Use the “Plant Finder” tool at www.BlueThumb.org to learn which native plants are best suited for your yard – whether it is sunny or shady, wet or dry. The website also has links to native plant retailers and landscaping companies.

Schedule a free site visit: The Washington Conservation District (WCD) offers free site visits for all residents and property owners in Washington County: www.mnwcd.org/site-visit-signup-form. During these visits, WCD staff can provide advice on managing erosion and invasive species; connect you with available grants; and help you to begin planning native garden, raingarden, and shoreline planting projects. A typical site visit lasts 30-60min and happens outdoors on your property.

Beware of oak wilt: It is no longer safe to trim oak branches or dig near oaks due to the risk of spreading oak wilt, a fungal disease that kills thousands of oak trees every year.

Live on a lake, river or wetland? Learn how to care for your shoreline buffer during a free, online workshop April 29, 6-7:15pm. During this webinar, presenters will discuss benefits of buffers and native shoreline plantings; buffer rules and regulations; establishing native species and improving buffer habitat; seasonal maintenance; controlling common terrestrial invasive species; and available resources and funding. Speakers include Tara Kelly and Cameron Blake (Washington Conservation District) and Angie Hong (East Metro Water Education Program – EMWREP). Register online at: tinyurl.com/shorelines21.

Design a raingarden: The East Metro Water Resource Education Program will also be hosting a free raingarden workshop on May 11, 6-7:15pm. Raingardens are a beautiful way to add curbside appeal to your property and protect local lakes and rivers from runoff pollution. Learn about the benefits of raingardens and native plants; how to design and care for a raingarden at your home; where to site a raingarden on your property; and what plants to choose for sunny and shady sites. Presenters include Brett Stolpestad and Cameron Blake (Washington Conservation District) and Angie Hong (EMWREP). Register online at: tinyurl.com/raingarden21.

Create a resilient yard: The Blue Thumb – Planting for Clean Water partnership brings together local government, nonprofits, and landscaping companies to assist community residents with native plantings, raingardens, and shoreline projects. This spring and summer, partners are offering a variety of workshops on Resilient Yards, Bee-Lawns, and Turf Alternatives. Because the workshops are hosted online, you can feel free to attend any that fit your schedule, even if the local host is in a different part of the Twin Cities. Find workshops online at www.bluethumb.org/events.