Oak Woodland Brushland Restoration with Grant Funds in 2009

For the last two years we have received Cost Share Grants from our Watershed District for restoration projects in the yard. The Grants are awarded for projects that will improve water infiltration, reduce runoff, erosion and filter pollutants, and create wildlife habitat.

In 2009, we restored a portion of the southern part of our yard. Prior to applying for the Grant, we removed invasive species (Buckthorn, Garlic Mustard & European Bellflower) and non-native Common Lilacs from the area.

The area was relatively undisturbed and we had a significant number of native species that were surviving amongst the invasive species. We inventoried the existing native plants and researched what else would have been growing alongside these natives.

We reviewed historical records (Marschner Map) and the Native Plant Communities of Minnesota Field Guides to determine what type of pre-settlement plant community existed here. Our City's Natural Resources Department has also prepared very detailed information on the different plant community designations in our municipality. The plant community for our area was an Oak Woodland Brushland. As described in our 2009 City of Minnetonka Newsletter "Oak Woodland Brushland areas have a canopy more open than a forest but less than a savanna, with trees and shrubs adapted to the well-drained, dry and gravelly soils." Local parks with remnant woodlands were also very helpful in creating a planting list of what we intended to use in the restoration plan.

Our house in situated on a gravel esker, the result of glacial melt outwash. The restoration site has a southern sloped exposure with a fairly significant oak canopy so it is partially shaded. The soil is a gravelly sandy loam and very well drained.

Historically, these eskers were not farmed in our area due to the poor soil and slopes so this has left an undisturbed native seed bank. Because of this, we are fortunate to have native plants reemerging in the yard in areas that are no longer mowed.

If you are considering doing a restoration in your yard it is worth the time to do the research to determine the pre-settlement plant community, the geology/soil and the climatic conditions (sun, wind etc) so you incorporate the most suitable native plants.