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The University of Minnesota's TCF Bank Stadium was recently named the Best Public Raingarden by Metro Blooms, a local nonprofit organization that promotes and celebrates gardening. Landcare Superintendent Les Potts was on hand at the organization's annual Garden Awards on Thursday, November 8, at Columbia Manor to accept the award. Metro Blooms' awards presented each year to recognize those who beautify our city and protect our environment with their gardens. Gardens must be clearly visible to the public, have curb appeal and be well maintained.
Here is Metro Blooms' summary of why TCF Bank Stadium's raingarden was selected as the best:
"A whole city block of plantings surround the University of Minnesota’s TCF Bank Stadium. Known as bio-swales (raingardens), this dramatic face lift was started in 2006 and completed in 2009. Populous, the lead consulting firm on the project, as well as Mike Jischke with SRF Consulting Group, incorporated environmental principles and plant designs for the project. It was considered to be a big project even by University standards and an unusual opportunity to develop areas around the stadium for a large-scale district storm water systemas well as a desire to beautify the campus.
"Every unfinished parking lot is a potential site for development," says Cathy Abene of the University’s Energy Management Department.
The general plan is to minimize the use of water and to introduce plants that don't need a lot of water. The trees canopy consists of Elm, Hackberry and Maple. The linear shapes of the sedges, large groups of grasses and varied wildflowers make for a pleasing landscape. As Tom Ritzer, Landscape Architect with the University, shares, “We don’t plant annuals, with the exception of gateway areas, to minimize plant material costs.” Still there is a lot of color. Mike explains that they use plants that have "seasonal colors and textures." Before the homecoming game, the Minnesota Gopher maroon and gold colors are in evidence. Large native stones like limestone are interspersed around the garden. Groups of stones (check dams) are lined up to slow the flow of water during a rain event.
The gardens have a fascinating underground system to make use of the water. Rainwater collected in the gardens and paved surfaces is piped to a dry holding pond where it is stored temporarily, treated and released at a controlled rate to the city’s storm sewer system. A proprietary system called the Epic System takes water captured from the roof and collected in pipes and uses it for watering the grass. In some areas curb cuts and porous pavements were used to additionally direct and capture water. Even the stadium field is used for treating rainwater. LEED awarded a silver certification to the University for
its water efficiency, quality and material sourcing.
Challenges abound: soil needs amending and must be discarded at times due to an old creosote plant contamination, roadways treated with salt wreck havoc on the plants, and human interference from garbage waste to bikes being chained to trees is also on the rise. But the University landscaping staff is comprised of 22 full time educated gardeners and 100 paid employees to keep on top of it all. Frequently they will transplant and replant the abundance of plants or compost them to keep the gardens working and as beautiful as they are today. We are so proud of you: Rah Rah Rah for Ski-U-Mah, Rah for the U of M!"