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Across the United States there are pockets of land in our urban environments that have been made inhospitable for the growth of most trees and other desirable plants.

These areas, while once comprised of native soil and vegetation, have become "brownfields", generally only supporting less desirable plants like thistle, nutsedge, knotweed, and crabgrass.

Brownfields are generally created over a long period of time by various human activities (construction, development, chemical pollutants, etc.).  The soil in this are is altered in such a way that many trees have a difficult time establishing.  These sites are used by urban foresters to identify tree species and varieties that will adapt to even the harshest of urban conditions. 

The following map (created with ArcGIS) gives an overview of the recently planted brownfield site in Saint Paul.  Located on the southwest corner of Phalen Blvd. and Payne Ave., this site is a collaborative research project between the Saint Paul Park & Recreation's Forestry Division and the University of Minnesota's Urban Forestry & Horticulture Research Institute.


Phalen BLVD 2010 Tree Planting - Initial Inventory June.jpg

Payne-Phalen Site.JPG
Many of the species planted at this site are of interest in other areas of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, representing possible replacements for threatened trees like ash. 

Others are tried-and-true species that have worked on other locations but never put to the test in a place like this!

If trees survive (and thrive!) in this location they become prime candidates for use throughout the city, especially on tough disturbed sites.

Watch this site for updates as the project progresses!

Payne-Phalen Crew.JPG

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With all the tree-related research going on at the University, it's about time the research nursery proposed planting some trees grown by the University on University grounds. The trees were grown right here at the University, and then planted at the University, right here where they were grown.

On July 26, 2010, many trees were removed from the gravel bed and transported to a University site at 29th Ave Se and Como Ave in Minneapolis. With the help of The U of MN Landcare crew, the trees were planted successfully. These plantings have become lifelong research. If they can stand the test of time, their success will open doors for gravel bed trees all around the world.LandCare PlantingLandcare Planting2.lnk.JPG

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GB Overview.JPGWe've just installed the first trees in our gravel beds this year. We are continuing to expand the size and species used in this system for holding bare-root stock - extending the planting window of bare-root trees well in to autumn.

Gravel bed trees from our research nursery will be planted in Minneapolis, St. Paul, and on the University of Minnesota Campus.  Long-term tracking and data collection will compare performance of these trees to those grown in other formats.

GB October Glory Roots.JPG

This photo shows typical root size and structure of an October Glory red maple.

Stay tuned for future posts showing root and crown development this season! 


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Gravel bed production continues in 2010 focusing on producing tough nursery stock suitable for replacing ash trees.

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