UMN campus green roof.

Seeking Solutions

August 1, 2015

Green roof.University horticultural scientists research ways to restore and preserve water quality through strategic plantings to restore wetlands, preserve lakeshore, and curb runoff through rainwater gardens. Researchers analyze the most beneficial plants for various conditions and provide information to the public on plant selection. 

In wetland demonstration sites, researchers are investigating whether short-lived perennials can be used to suppress reed canary grass that invades damaged wetlands, and whether adding nutrients increases the likelihood of weedy plant invasion. 

Prairie landscape.Natural landscaping along lakeshores enhances lake quality by restoring fish and wildlife habitat and protecting water quality by reducing runoff. The vegetation protects the land from erosion and reduces yard maintenance. Waterfront sites, such as lakeshore, river banks, and public access boat launch areas, are prone to erosion and require durable and adaptable plants. Sites are often characterized by poor soil, high shade, and seasonal flooding.

Rainwater gardens of hardy plants sited in low-lying areas trap and absorb runoff from parking lots, streets, and roofs. Parking lot runoff at the University’s Minnesota Landscape Arboretum and the St. Paul campus is channeled into planting beds and supports a wide variety of plants for public view. The gardens filter storm water close to where it falls and prevent additional runoff and pollution. 

Did You Know?

Rain gardens feature deep-rooted native plants and grasses and are usually planted near a runoff source like a downspout, driveway or parking lot.