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Earth Action Heroes: Native planting champions

Authored on
Bloomington Briefing Published July 29, 2022
Updated on November 2, 2022
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Natural resources are all around us, literally under our feet and in our backyard. The landscape committee at Appletree Square 5 Condominium has taken the initiative to preserve what’s in their backyard because that natural resource is a gift they treasure.

Built in 1984, the condominium is located within the boundaries of the Lower Minnesota River Watershed District. The landscape committee conducted an erosion control and maintenance project on the south side of the building. The project consists of removing an existing gravel surface about 10-14 feet wide and 300 feet long on the south side of the building, and adding new topsoil as needed. The south side will be planted with a Mesic Prairie Southwest seed mix and the east side with shade-tolerant fescue seed.

“The prairie seed mix was recommended by Bloomington’s Water Resources Manager Bryan Gruidl, because prairie grasses go down a number of feet and help stabilize soil and reduce erosion,” Landscape committee chair Tom Fahey said.

In addition, the first 10 – 15 feet of the embankment on the south side of the building will be cleared of buckthorn, wild grape, a few dead trees and some, but not all, other growth to provide additional sunlight for the prairie seed. The trees on the east side will be trimmed to provide more sunlight for the turf. Project work began in May, though the condo residents probably won’t see the prairie grow until next year.

“Over time, as more invasive species grew up behind us, it became harder to enjoy the area. It’s a secret asset to our building to have the wildlife refuge behind us,” committee member Pam Bott said. “All of us really like it. A lot of what we’re doing now is to enjoy that gift.”

For the landscape committee, this is more than just improving their backyard. Just as they had worked on landscape in the front of the building in 2018—adding a retaining wall, rocks, plants, lilac bushes and trees—these small steps to protect natural resources.

“Nature has its own way of landscaping,” said Brad Pederson, committee member, horticulturalist and past owner of the Bloomington Garden Center and Landscape Company. “We’re just helping it.”