Gravel Bed Nursery

In fall of 2016, we installed a gravel bed nursery in one of the front planters of the Science Museum of Minnesota (SMM), thanks to help from partners at Urban Roots MN, Conservation Corps, Apple, and the wonderful staff from the museum and St. Paul Forestry.

A gravel bed nursery is an irrigated bed of small rocks which store bare root trees for later planting. Using a gravel bed drastically increases the survival rate of young trees, because they are able to develop a larger and heartier root stock which helps in reducing transplant shock at the time of planting.

As we face the impending loss of our ash trees in the Mississippi River corridor, projects like the gravel bed nursery are helping us to prepare and make proactive decisions about how to best deal with the canopy loss.

Project Goals

Install a successful gravel bed nursery along busy Kellogg Boulevard in downtown St. Paul, planted with bare root tree stock that will help the city adapt to a changing climate

Host volunteers, including participants from the National Adaptation Forum (a conference on climate change adaptation) to prep the site, harvest the trees, and then plant them along the river in St. Paul

Demonstrate how easy it is to use a gravel bed as a source of inexpensive tree stock for SMM visitors and other passers by through educational materials and signage adjacent to the bed.

Project Partners

  • Science Museum of Minnesota
  • City of St. Paul


This project is funded with generous support from an Environmental Assistance Grant through the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.