2017 Hamline-Midway Boulevard Curb Cut Rain Gardens

Featured Stewardship Grant


In the spring of 2014, a homeowner from the Hamline-Midway neighborhood of St. Paul contacted Capitol Region Watershed District (CRWD) for a site evaluation to discuss the installation of a curb cut rain garden as part of our Stewardship Grant Program. Later in the fall, after approval from the City of St. Paul, a Stewardship Grant Agreement was signed. However, the homeowner was unable to find a contractor willing to do a single curb cut project. CRWD collaborated with the resident, Hamline Midway Coalition, and the City of St. Paul to garner neighborhood-wide interest in curb cut rain gardens throughout Hamline-Midway.

Although classified as a stewardship grant application, curb cut rain garden projects differs from the typical grant application. Curb cut projects involve several applicants, instead of a single property owner. The biggest difference is that CRWD acts as a contracting agency for these projects. We identify potential suitable curb cut sites, group them all together as one project, then reach out to contractors for one total bid. Grouping them into one simplifies the administrative and installation processes for CRWD, City of St. Paul Public Works, and contractors. This also results in lower overall costs, as opposed to finalizing each project individually.

By December 2014, 45 homeowners had requested site evaluations. Based on the preliminary evaluations conducted by CRWD and Ramsey Conservation District (RCD) staff, 7 properties were suitable for a curb cut rain garden in 2015. Other properties were also suitable if ash trees were removed or if there was an agreement between neighbors where the rain garden would cross property lines. By the end of 2015, a total of 5 rain gardens were constructed.

Project Description

In 2017, CRWD and RCD staff identified ten property owners interested in boulevard rain gardens. Design plans were prepared for ten gardens, with a church responsible for two gardens and two property owners responsible for one garden. We distributed requests for bids and received bids from five contractors. For 2017, ten curb cut gardens were installed. Each property owner is responsible for the maintenance of the rain garden(s) adjacent to their property.

2017 Project Map

Quick numbers for the 2017 project:

  • 10 property owners including 1 church
  • 10 curb cuts
  • 2,750 square feet of garden
  • 728 plants
  • 4 new trees
  • $53,000 total cost
  • Over $50,000 of total cost reimbursed with CRWD Stewardship Grant funding


                                                                                                              *click pictures to enlarge*

1895 Laurel Ave

805 Holton Ave










Installed single pour curb cut

Removed curb, using existing joints









The steps to construct a boulevard curb cut rain garden differs from a typical private rain garden. It involves more than just CRWD and the property owner, but also the City of St. Paul concerning the boulevard ordinances. Despite multiple parties involved, coordination and construction was done with care and ease. There was no damage to the curbs, since curb removal was performed along existing curb joints. There was also minimal damage to the asphalt.  With only a single pour of concrete to create one piece, these cuts are easy to construct, thus increasing work flow. By being one solid structure, as opposed to a combination of parts, these curb cuts ensure durability and strength.

In addition, with help from the City of St. Paul Forestry, CRWD was able to coordinate tree maintenance at three sites:

  • Stump removal at 1402 Edmund Avenue
  • Tree replacement at 1654 Englewood
  • Tree transplant at St. Mary’s Church

1159 Edmund Ave

Project Outcomes

CRWD anticipates that the 2017 Hamline-Midway rain gardens will remove significant amounts of stormwater runoff pollutants and volume from flowing into the downstream receiving water, the Mississippi River. Annually, it is estimated that these rain gardens will capture 2.4 pounds of phosphorus, 1600 pounds of sediment, and 550,000 gallons of stormwater runoff.

After the first growing season, the rain gardens have remained healthy and effective. Property owners have played a vital role in this maintenance, by cleaning, watering, and weeding the gardens as needed. As a result, the plant materials are well established. The curb cuts have been exceptional, since no repairs to the concrete nor asphalt has been necessary. 

Going Forward 

For 2018, there are over 20 CRWD residents and institutions interested in curb cut rain gardens. As grant recipients under the Targeted Watershed Program, administered by MN Board of Water and Soil Resources and funded through the Clean Water, Land, and Legacy Amendment, CRWD will also focus on curb cut rain gardens in the McCarrons and Como subwatersheds. Any CRWD residents interested in curb cut rain gardens may contact Andrew Novak at andrew@capitolregionwd.org or (651) 644-8888. 

Partners                                                                  Links

Hamline Midway Coalition                                  Capitol Region Watershed District Rain Gardens

City of St. Paul Public Works                                Capitol Region Watershed District Stewardship Grant Program

City of St. Paul Forestry                                        MN Clean Water Fund