Thursday, February 6, 2014

Blue Thumb Program Classes Help Local Residents: Meet the Meltzers

Eroding slope? Concerned about your lake's health?

Dakota County, February 65, 2014 - Attend a Blue Thumb-Planting for Clean Water® workshop to find out about solutions and grant opportunities. Nine introductory workshops and 23 advanced workshops begin on February 19, 2014. Register today by visiting

The Blue Thumb-Planting for Clean Water® program is a Minnesota-based partnership of 61 public, private and non-profit organizations working cooperatively to keep water clean.  The program makes it easy for residents to do their part by planting native plants, installing rain-gardens  and stabilizing shorelines.   This spring, the Dakota County Soil and Water Conservation District (DCSWCD), in partnership with cities and local watershed management organizations and the Blue Thumb program, will provide 32 classes geared for residents. Introductory courses focus on general water quality practices of rain-gardens, native gardens, and shoreline stabilizations. Design courses help residents plan and install a project in their own yard.  Since 2008, over two thousand people have attended Blue Thumb workshops and 251 planting projects have been installed.

Meet the Meltzers, Past Workshop Participant from Eagan

Todd Meltzer read about an upcoming Blue Thumb workshop in a local paper and was motivated to attend. Not only did he like to garden, he had an erosion problem he wanted to solve. After taking part in the Blue Thumb workshop in the in spring of 2009, Todd Meltzer took advantage of a small grant that helped with the installation cost and installed a rain-garden using native plants-or plants indigenous to this area. Meltzer commented, "I've had a lot of fun with it [the gardens], and the course really put things in motion for me."  Even though Meltzer enjoys gardening, he found that adding the raingarden has added little to his to-do list because it only requires an occasional weeding. In fact, since his raingarden no longer needs to be mowed, he wonders if the garden area has actually decreased his yard maintenance.

Meltzer complimented the DCSWCD staff on how helpful they were in coming up a plan to best control the water flow on his property. The soil and water conservation district staff not only guided Meltzer through the planting process, they also suggested adding features like a slope drain and helped organize the materials and determine project costs. Over the years, Meltzer has expanded his raingarden and added two new gardens to help beautify his yard, control erosion and reduce laborious mowing on steep inclines. "It really makes it fun to be outside!" exclaimed Meltzer. 

What's a Rain-garden?

When land is developed, the amount of impervious surfaces increases, which means that more water runs off of the streets to storm drains and less water soaks into the ground. The extra runoff can cause erosion, decreased groundwater recharge and, when the runoff picks up pollutants in its path, pollution of lakes, streams and wetlands. A raingarden is a planted depression that is designed to collect the dirty stormwater runoff and allow it to absorb into the ground. Some of the water is used by the plants in the rain garden and the remaining water filters through soil layers before entering the groundwater system.

Rain-gardens are added to home landscaping not only for water quality benefits, but also for the aesthetics. Well-planned raingardens use a wide variety of plants with varied blooming times and an array of colors. Native plants are recommended for rain gardens and native gardens because they are adapted to the local climate, generally don't require fertilizer, and are more tolerant of the local soil and water conditions. Native plants typically have deep root systems that help enhance infiltration (water soaking into the ground), allow them to be drought tolerant, and anchor the soil to prevent erosion.

The Dakota County Soil Conservation District was organized 70 years ago by local farmers. The DCSWCD is governed by five locally elected supervisors and staffed by professionals committed to providing high quality assistance to the citizens of Dakota County for the protection of land and water resources. 

For more information, visit, contact Dawn Pape ( or 651.480.7781) or Curt Coudron ( or 651.480.7774)

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