Free rain-garden workshops will help you save money and environment

City residents are invited to a series of free spring workshops on designing rain gardens with native perennial plants.

In Southwest, the Community on Urban Environment (CUE) will host a pair of two-part workshops at Linden Hills Park, 3100 W. 43rd St.. The first pair of workshops is March 31 and April 14; the second pair is May 5 and 26. All workshops are on Thursdays, 6:30-8:30 p.m.

The first workshop of each pair will focus on understanding what a watershed is, why it is important and how appropriate gardening can reduce pollution runoff into city lakes and rivers. The second workshop will include hands-on rain garden design in small groups, including the types of plants to use and drainage issues.

The program will help people who want to apply to the city for a stormwater runoff credit. The city used to have a single charge for storm and sanitary sewers on the utility bill. The city will begin billing for stormwater runoff as a separate line item, and allow people to apply for credits if they reduce stormwater runoff through rain gardens and other devices.

The city estimates the stormwater fee for a single-family detached home at between $8 and $9 a month. The amount of the credit depends on how much stormwater the property diverts. The maximum credit is 50 percent of the total charge – so if the property diverts all runoff a typical homeowner would save slightly more than $4 a month or about $50 a year.

Workshop reservations are required; space is limited.

To register or to get more information, call Laura Weland, Minneapolis Blooms program coordinator, 673-3014 or e-mail [email protected]

Residents in the Mississippi Watershed are eligible to apply for $50 native plant grants during the second workshop. The Mississippi Watershed includes parts of Whittier, Stevens Square, Lyndale, Lowry Hill East, East Harriet, East Calhoun, CARAG and Tangletown.