Project Maintenance Resources

Project Maintenance Resources

Capitol Region Watershed District (CRWD) funds clean water projects across the 40 square-mile District. From residential rain gardens, to shoreline restorations, to permeable pavement, these clean water projects all help protect our local lakes, wetlands, and ultimately the Mississippi River.

Routine maintenance is an important part of any clean water project. Use the resources below to assist with your clean water project’s maintenance needs. If you have additional project-specific questions, you can contact Stormwater BMP Technician Alexandra Morrison at, 651-644-8888 ext. 108.

Rain Gardens

Rain gardens are planted depressions that soak up and clean polluted rainwater that carries leaves, grass clippings, fertilizers, and pesticides which degrade the water quality of nearby lakes and rivers. In a rain garden, this polluted rainwater can soak into the ground where native plant roots and soil microbes break down pollutants. It is important to maintain your rain garden to make sure water can enter your inlet and plants stay healthy.

Maintain the beauty, health and performance of your rain garden. With proper care, your garden will continue to help keep our lakes and the Mississippi River clean by capturing runoff and removing pollution. Use the resources below for maintenance, including:

• general maintenance recommendations,
• seasonal tips, to be done at a specific time of year,
• native plants for your garden,
• troubleshooting common issues,
• watering guidelines, and
• identifying rain garden weeds.

Rain Garden Resources

CRWD’s Clean Water Projects Maintenance Tips Newsletter offers seasonal tips for maintenance, workshops and other project resources.

CRWD’s Gardening Guide PDF highlights the important maintenance activities for your rain garden and breaks down garden care by season.

CRWD’s Rain Garden Maintenance Blog Post provides more information of rain maintenance tasks by season.

CRWD hosts annual rain garden maintenance workshops. View a recording of our August 2021 virtual workshop on View the August 2021 Rain Garden Maintenance Workshop presentation PDF.

One of CRWD’s neighboring watershed organizations, Mississippi Watershed Management Organization (MWMO) also has informative seasonal maintenance videos on YouTube.

MWMO’s Spring Maintenance for Native Plant Landscapes on

MWMO’s Summer Raingarden Maintenance with Akia and Boyee on 


Sourcing Replacement Plants

When selecting plants to fill bare spots in your garden, opt for native plants and cultivars. Native plants usually have deep roots which means they can soak in more water, reduce soil compaction, and filter out pollutants than their non-native counterparts. They also provide secondary benefits such as pollinator habitat and are adapted to our area so require fewer inputs like watering, mowing, and fertilizer use.

Native plants are available at many local nurseries and garden centers. There are also multiple local organizations that host plant and seed sales throughout the year.

Permeable Pavement

When maintained properly, rainwater flows through the gaps in permeable pavement and soaks into the stone and soil below, instead of carrying pollutants directly to the Mississippi River. The following tips will ensure your project has a lasting water quality benefit for years to come:

Sweep or vacuum at least once a year. When the spaces in between permeable pavers become clogged, water cannot soak into the rocks and soil below. Regenerative air sweepers can be used to clean large areas of permeable pavement, and small driveways and sidewalks can be cleaned by sweeping or with a small shop vac.

Minimize salt and sand use in the winter. Permeable pavement is generally less icy in the winter than traditional asphalt or concrete, but if you do need to de-ice, minimize usage because road salt can degrade the pavers and sand can clog the spaces where water is meant to soak in.

Native Plantings and Shoreline Buffers

Native plantings can be used to stabilize shorelines and filter pollutants like lawn fertilizer before it reaches a lake or river. The deep roots of native plants filter and absorb polluted runoff and excess nutrients before they enter the water, and anchor the soil while beautifying the shoreline. Maintenance of a shoreline buffer includes watching for erosion, replanting bare spots, and removing invasive weeds.

Native Landscaping Projects

Native landscaping projects foster the expansion of native plant communities, provide pollinator habitat, and prevent stormwater pollution from entering our lakes and the Mississippi River.

CRWD’s Guide to Native Planting PDF is an introduction to landscaping with native plants. Native Plant Gardens has an overview of different native plant gardens and helpful links.

Minnesota Board of Water & Soil Resources (BWSR)’s Lawns to Legumes program offers a combination of workshops, coaching, planting guides and cost-share funding (individual support grants) for installing pollinator-friendly native plantings in residential lawns.

Ramsey County Soil & Water Conservation Division’s Best Management Practices Supplier List PDF includes native plant and seed suppliers, contractor installation services and materials suppliers.

BWSR’s Shade Garden Template for Pollinators PDF shows a sample garden design and suggested native plants for shady spots.

BWSR’s Sunny and Low Garden Template for Pollinators PDF shows a sample garden design and suggested lower height (max 36 inches) native plants for sunny spots.

University of Minnesota Extension Native Plants resources page links to books, articles, and guides to get you started on selecting and growing native plants in your yard or garden.

DNR’s Native Plants for Landscaping and Restoration PDF includes information on native plant communities, landscape restoration and yard projects.

DNR’s Native Plant Suppliers and Landscapers lists local native plant suppliers and landscapers by region.

BWSR’s Planting for Pollinators PDF outlines principles and designs for residential pollinator habitats.

University of Minnesota Extension Solarization-Occultation page has guidance on solarization techniques for site preparation.

University of Minnesota’s Soil Testing Laboratory offers soil test kits to evaluate the pH and organic content of your soil.

Additional Resources

CRWD’s Clean Water Projects Maintenance Tips Newsletter offers seasonal tips for maintenance, workshops and other project resources.

If you’re looking to hire a contractor to assist with maintenance of your clean water project, please explore the partners list or Ramsey County Soil & Water Conservation Division’s Best Management Practices Supplier List PDF.