Community Tree Nurseries

  The Mississippi River Crew from Conservation Corps installing bare-root trees in the gravel bed at the Science Museum of Minnesota.

The Mississippi River Crew from Conservation Corps installing bare-root trees in the gravel bed at the Science Museum of Minnesota.

  Urban Roots MN partnered with us to install this gravel bed tree nursery in Saint Paul.

Urban Roots MN partnered with us to install this gravel bed tree nursery in Saint Paul.

A gravel bed tree nursery, also known as community tree nursery, is an irrigated bed of small rocks that stores 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. Bare-root trees are planted in a foot of gravel in the springtime, irrigated during the summer, and then planted in the fall. 

Purchasing bare-root trees is cost-effective since they are lightweight, easy to handle, affordable, and available in a variety of diverse species. By diversifying the tree canopy, this will help reduce our urban forest’s vulnerability to invasive pest and insect threats. The power of gravel bed nurseries is what happens below the gravel, out of sight. In the fall, when the trees are taken out of the gravel beds, their fibrous roots are three times more than what it was in the spring. This increases their survivability when they are planted because they are able to increase their uptake of water and nutrients. 

In 2016, we installed one of our first gravel bed tree nurseries in front of Science Museum of Minnesota, thanks to support from partners at Urban Roots MN, Conservation Corps, Apple, and the wonderful staff from the museum and Saint Paul Forestry. We currently have X gravel beds.

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

Project Partners

  • Science Museum of Minnesota

  • City of Saint Paul

  • The Raptor Center - University of Minnesota

  • Urban Roots MN

  • Surly Gives A Dam

  • Patagonia - St. Paul

  • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency