Conserve and Preserve Blog

Exploring ways we can conserve and preserve Rosemount.

[Sign up for notifications when new posts are added to the blog.]

September 8, 2022: Leave Some Debris for the Bees

Mason bee on flow and nest in hollow stem cavityFall is here!  And along with pumpkin spiced lattes, football games, and school busses also comes a lot of yard work in preparation for winter and spring.  But before you haul out the rakes and start cutting back gardens, let’s review some strategies that can reduce your impact on the environment.

Leave Some Leaves  

Many pollinator species will overwinter in leaves, so leaving some in your yard and garden can help these beneficial critters to survive our harsh winters (it’s also helpful for your plants too).  Now, we are not suggesting that you just have a random free for all of leaves in your yard.  We don’t want to leave so many leaves that it damages your lawn or is a nuisance for neighbors.  Rather, raked leaves can be strategically used as mulches for garden beds and around trees and shrubs.  If the leaves keep blowing into your neighbor’s yard, you may need to rethink using your leaves as mulch in certain locations that are prone to wind.

Save Some Stems 

Many pollinators will overwinter in old stems too.   Additionally, old seed heads can be a source of food for overwintering birds.  Leaving old flower stems over the winter can also add interest to your landscape in winter.  If you have some really tall plants and just don’t like the look of leaving them in place, consider only cutting them back to about knee height.  A portion of the cut stems can be hidden in the back of your garden too.  

Mulch, Compost, and Dispose What’s Left 

Many people will still have leaves and other yard waste to dispose of.  It is important to dispose of leaves properly so that they don’t cause water quality or flooding problems.  If your leaf cover is not too thick, you can save yourself some time by mulching your leaves back into your lawn with a mulching mower.  Leaves are also a great addition to your backyard compost bin or yard waste cart provided by your trash hauler.  If your trash hauler does not pick up yard waste (leaves, grass clippings, etc.), you can take your leaves to a yard waste drop off site.   NEVER place your leaves in your garbage bin; it is illegal.  ALWAYS clean up leaves from the curb and gutter on your street to prevent clogged stormdrains and street flooding.

Adopt-a-Drain 

You can also help protect water quality by cleaning accumulated debris (and snow in winter) from stormdrains and adopting a drain at Adopt-a-Drain.org.  

Enjoy your fall!  Now to go find something pumpkin spiced…

-Jane Byron, Rosemount Stormwater Specialist


August 22, 2022: Beautify your neighborhood with Adopt-a-Drain

Did you know that Rosemount is a part of the Vermillion River Watershed? It’s the largest watershed in the Twin Cities Metro Area and in Dakota County. That means that water which hits the ground in Rosemount will flow into the Vermillion River not long after – and that includes water going into storm drains. 

The Vermillion meets the Mississippi River just south of Hastings, which of course leads to the Gulf of Mexico and the oceans. The VRWJPO is tasked with protecting and restoring water quality in the watershed. I’m pleased to serve as their Communications & Outreach Specialist since June 2021.

If you live in the city, you likely have several storm drains in your neighborhood. These drains, unlike the wastewater pipes in your home, do not lead to any kind of treatment plant, but lead directly to our waterbodies. This means that anything accumulated around the drains – like grass clippings, pet waste, leaves, trash, deicing salt – also goes into our waterbodies, which can lead to unpleasant algae blooms and unsafe conditions for people and animals.

Fortunately, I’ve found that many watershed residents understand this and put in a few minutes here and there to clean up around their storm drains. Why not get a proverbial “gold star” for the work you’re already doing? The Adopt-a-Drain program does just that. Watersheds and cities around the Metro collaborate to bring this program to everyone for free.

How it works:

  1. Go to mn.adopt-a-drain.org and click the orange “Adopt a Drain” button.
  2. A map will pop up where you can search your address, see what drains around you are already adopted or available for you to adopt, and select a drain to adopt. You can adopt multiple drains!
  3. Come up with a clever name for your drain(s).
  4. Finish creating an account. You can choose to remain anonymous if you prefer. You’ll get an email confirmation.
  5. Clean your drains regularly and do your best to measure how much you’ve collected. It doesn’t have to be super accurate.
  6. Report your measurements on the Adopt-a-Drain web dashboard on your account.
  7. If you like, take pictures of yourself or your family cleaning your drains and send them to me at brita.moore-kutz@co.dakota.mn.us, and I may post them on VRWJPO social media or other publications.
  8. Follow the social media accounts for both VRWJPO and Adopt-a-Drain for more tips!

I hope you’ll consider adopting a drain today. It’s free, easy, and you can do your cleanings when it works best for your schedule. It’s also a great way to spend time with your family and friends, or you can sign up your organization too! Any questions, contact me.

-Brita Moore-Kutz is the Communications & Outreach Specialist with the Vermillion River Watershed Joint Powers OrganizationDrain adopters in Minnesota have collected 495,050 pounds of debris, 18,276 drains have been adopted


August 1, 2022: Food Waste Drop-off Site Opening in Rosemount

Man dropping off organic food waste at a Dakota County organics drop-off siteSay ‘hello’ to the newest organics collection site in Dakota County. The Rosemount organics drop-off site opens Monday, Aug. 15 at the Rosemount Public Works Facility located at 14455 Brazil Ave.

Learn more about the program at an upcoming information session – register now.

  • Wednesday, Aug. 10, 6–6:45 p.m., Robert Trail Library, Rosemount
  • Thursday, Aug. 11, noon–12:45 p.m. – Virtual
  • Monday, Aug. 15, 6–6:45 p.m. – Virtual

Or stop by on Saturday, Aug. 20 from 9 a.m. to noon for a kickoff event at the site. County staff and volunteers will answer questions and sign up new participants.

Why should you use an organics drop-off site?  Not only is food the number one item in our trash, but you can compost so much so much more at a drop-off site than in your backyard bin. Food scraps, meat, bones, greasy delivery pizza boxes, paper towels, paper egg cartons - it can all go in there! Bringing organics to a drop-off site is easy and can dramatically reduce waste. The typical household can divert up to one-third of their trash away from the landfill. Instead of sitting in a landfill, this material is sent to a commercial compost site in Rosemount to be turned into compost — a nutrient-rich soil additive — used in gardening and landscaping.

To sign up, visit the Dakota County website, email for registration or call 952-891-7557. All registered participants receive helpful tips and compostable bags to use at home.

-Jenny Kedward is an Environmental Specialist with Dakota County


July 1, 2022: Pack Yourself a Low Waste Picnic

A fenced organics waste trash enclosure with roof installed in a parking lot off of Brazil AveSummer, a season of picnics in the park and backyard cookouts, getting together with friends and neighbors.  But after the fun comes the cleanup.  With a little extra planning, we can take some of that trash and divert it away from the landfill and towards other useful purposes.

First, have a plan for your recycling. While we’re pretty lucky in Rosemount to offer recycling in many of our public parks (look for the blue bins), the same cannot be said for other locations. Packing a reusable or paper bag for recycling ahead of time can make it easier to pack out recyclables to put in your home bin when the fun is over. Do not use plastic bags!  Unlike paper bags, plastic bags cannot be put in your recycling cart; the bags get caught in and damage equipment at recycling sorting centers. And make sure you know what is recyclable and what is not; stay away from products that need to go in the trash.

Consider durable and reusable products. Best suited for smaller gatherings and gatherings at home in the backyard or apartment complex common space, your regular dishes do work well in some situations.  Stainless, aluminum, and plant fiber dishes that don’t use a plastic binding agent (e.g. bamboo) may be a durable and sturdy alternative to plastic dinnerware if you’re trying to reduce your plastic use.

Table scraps no longer need to go in the trash! The County offers a number of locations to drop off your organics waste; the material dropped off is later recycled into compost.  Organics drop off locations can accept more than you would put in your backyard compost pile; paper towels, bones, popsicle sticks, leftover veggies, and coffee grounds are just some of the many materials that can be accepted. Certified compostable plates, cups, and utensils can also be disposed of at organics drop sites (look for the BPI symbol).  And good news, a new organics drop site will be up and running in Rosemount near Erickson Park (a pretty great picnic location) starting in mid-August. You must register to use County organics drop off locations.   

Enjoy your summer fun!

-Jane Byron, Rosemount Stormwater Specialist


May 25, 2022: You’ve Let It Grow, Now It’s Time to Mow – Green Mowing Strategies

Dandelions grow in the lawn surrounding the east water tower during No Mow May.The City’s first No Mow May has been a huge success with over 270 properties participating.  That’s almost 3% of all the households in Rosemount!  But as the end of May approaches, it’s time to get the mowers out.  The City will begin enforcing lawn height ordinances on June 6th; your lawn needs to be 8 inches or shorter by then.  To help you in your mowing endeavors, we’ve put together this list of earth friendly mowing strategies.

Leave grass clippings on the lawn.  Leaving grass clippings on the lawn can reduce fertilizer applications by 50%-75% depending on whether or not you irrigate.  That said, you may have a LOT of grass clippings after a month of not mowing.  If you need to remove grass clippings and your yard is relatively weed/seed free, they are a great source of green mulch for your backyard compost pile or around your vegetable garden to suppress weeds.  Clippings with lots of weeds/seeds should go in your curbside yard waste bin (or bags); your backyard compost pile generally doesn’t get hot enough to kill weed seeds.  And remember to sweep up any grass clippings that end up on roads, driveways, or sidewalks to protect water quality in local lakes and ponds.

Mow high.  Aim for a lawn height no shorter than 3 inches.  Taller lawns have deeper roots, which means a little less watering and fertilizer needed.  Taller lawns also shade out weeds better, reducing the need for weed killers.  

Don’t remove too much.  Remove no more than 1/3 of the lawn grass height when mowing.  If you were aiming for a lawn height of 3”, that would mean mowing when your lawn is about 4.5 inches tall.  Removing too much during mowing can stress your lawn.  If you find it difficult to follow this strategy after No Mow May, consider mowing your lawn higher, allowing it to rest a couple days, and then mowing again.  This may also help mulch the clippings left in your yard.

Maintain your equipment.  Well maintained equipment runs more efficiently and gives off less pollution.  Sharp mower blades leave a clean cut at the ends of grass.  Grass cut by dull blades has ragged ends that evaporate more water and allow turf diseases to get in.  You won’t need to irrigate as much and your lawn will be healthier if you have sharp blades.   

Consider switching to electric.  There are both pros and cons to an electric mower – pros, quieter, lighter, less maintenance – cons, shorter run time, less powerful.  Electric mowers produce less air pollution, and if you switch to a renewable energy source, your impact will be reduced even further still.  

Visit the University of Minnesota Extension Website and the University of Minnesota Turfgrass Science Website for more information on lawncare.  Good luck with your mowing!

-Jane Byron, Rosemount Stormwater Specialist


May 1, 2022: No Mow May for Pollinators 

SpriBumblebee on white clover picture courtesy of the University of Minnesota Extensionng is here, and it’s finally (cross your fingers) warm enough to begin puttering around in our yards.  For many of us, our first inclination will be to “clean up” the yard, and we’ll head straight for the mower.  Resist the compulsion, because hunkered down in the soil, old leaves, mulches, last year’s stems and grasses may be some helpful friends that we need to enjoy ripe tomatoes, crisp apples, and refreshing cucumbers this summer.  I’m talking about pollinators of course: bees (including bumblebees), butterflies, moths, beetles, ants, and a whole host of other critters.  Most of the pollinators we rely on to pollinate our vegetable garden favorites are spending the winter in our lawns and gardens.   

But it’s not just their winter homes we’re disturbing when we crank up the mower and bring out the rake in spring, we’re also taking away food.  Imagine waking up after sleeping for 5-6 months; you’d be awfully hungry.  The problem is there just aren’t nearly as many plants that bloom in early spring.  Food sources are scarce.  A “well-maintained” lawn in general is somewhat of a food desert for bees and other pollinators; your lawn mower effectively cuts off food sources as it beheads any flowering weeds.  As much as some of us may not like it, our constant foes, the dandelion and clover, can be our beloved bumblebee’s savior in early spring as it may be the only food around until more plants start to bloom in summer.   

So, take a break from the lawnmower in early spring to help the pollinators out.  It’s easy to do.  You’ll enjoy the extra hour you get on the weekends.  To help you out, the City has proclaimed the month of May as No Mow May and will be temporarily  suspending enforcement on lawn height (8 inches or less) regulations during the month of May for occupied residential properties in good standing.  We request that those who choose to participate in No Mow May register here and print out a sign to place in a window or in their yard. 

Looking to do more for pollinators in your yard?  Check out these helpful webpages from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the Board of Soil & Water Resources, and University of Minnesota Extension.  We would also recommend you consider taking advantage of grants and rebates for specialized gardens that benefit water quality and pollinators from the Soil and Water Conservation District and City of Rosemount for any qualifying gardens you install.  

Enjoy your extra hour of time this weekend and happy planting!  

-Jane Byron, Rosemount Stormwater Specialist


April 1, 2022: Water Demands Lead to Higher Energy Costs

The Midwest is blessed with abundant freshwater resources —more freshwater flows through the Mississippi River than through all but four other rivers in the entire world; the Great Lakes and their connecting channels contain nearly 18% of the world’s surface freshwater; and Wisconsin and Minnesota both boast having more than 10,000 lakes each. But with so much water available to use for drinking, recreation, and everyday life, it is easy for us to forget why we need to conserve our water resources.

Even in water-rich states, massive water demands to generate power in combination with population growth, climate change and regulatory revisions can lead to higher energy costs, particularly in the hot summer months. And as populations continue to grow throughout the region (and the US as a whole), more roads, parking lots, buildings, and pollution reduce the availability of clean water—while more people are relying on it. In fact, in Dakota County, 90% of resident rely on groundwater for their drinking water. 

The Metropolitan Council estimates that portions of Dakota County will have limited groundwater availability in the next 20 years! Some portions of the aquifer (the bedrock area with groundwater that public water supplies draw from) are expected to have less than 50% of their original water volume by 2040; a significant depletion for less than 100 years of pumping. Additionally, some communities, such as Hastings, are facing concerns with groundwater contamination that may require expensive water treatment facility upgrades in the future.  

Conserving water by consuming less, wasting less, or reusing more, reduces costs and postpones or eliminates the need for expensive water supply projects and major infrastructure investments.

As it has become increasingly clear, the value of water conservation has enormous benefits to local economies, the environment, and even our global climate. In heavily populated drought plagued states the benefits of conservation are incalculable; by being mindful of water use - even in water abundant states - we have an opportunity to save enormous amounts of energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The bottom line is: water conservation benefits every state, city, and person in America.

That is why we, as residents of Rosemount, need to do our part to conserve water and energy. Be a part of the National Mayor’s Challenge for Water Conservation and make your pledge to reduce water consumption at mywaterpledge.com. If our city has the highest percentage of participating residents taking the pledge, we will all be entered to win great prizes-like $3,000 for your Home Utility Payments, Home Improvement Store Gift Cards, Toro Home Irrigation Products, and more.

Be sure to check out our Rebates and Assistance Programs and How You Can Help webpages if you are looking for ways you can have a positive impact and resources to help you do it.   

- Jane Byron, Rosemount Stormwater Specialist, in partnership with the Wyland Foundation


March 11, 2022: Let's Talk About Plastic

Only 12% of plastics are recycled in the US each year. That means nearly 80% of plastics are filling up our landfills or sloughing off in the natural environment as litter, finding its eventual home in our oceans. Let’s do our part to improve this statistic!

When it comes to plastic though, not all plastics are created equally.  That is, not all plastic is recyclable. In Dakota County, your curbside hauler recycles plastic bottles, containers and jugs numbered 1, 2, or 5.   These common plastic containers belong in your recycling bin:  

  • Soda, juice and water bottles
  • Milk and juice jugs
  • Margarine, cottage cheese, cream cheese and other tubs and lids
  • Laundry detergent bottles and jugs
  • Clear berry and produce containers

If you want to up your plastic recycling/reduction game, take these steps:

  • Keep the caps and lids on your bottles and containers.  This also helps with the sorting process at the recycling facility.
  • Consider packaging when making your purchases.  Can you purchase that same item in an easier to recycle aluminum can or glass bottle?
  • Collect clean plastic bags and films for drop off at local grocery stores.  NEVER PLACE IN YOUR RECYCLING BIN.

These plastic items NEVER go in your recycling bin:

  • Throw plastic straws in the trash.
  • Throw plastic/cling wrap in the trash.
  • Plastic bags and films (newspaper sleeves, packaging wrap like around paper towels, bubble wrap, etc.) go in the trash or can be dropped off at local grocery stores.
  • Throw black plastic takeout containers in the trash.  

Just remember, when in doubt about what to recycle and what to throw out, consult the Dakota County Online Recycling Guide.  If you’re curious what those numbers on plastic containers mean, check out this fact sheet from the Recycling Association of Minnesota.   You can also download Dakota County’s Recycling at Home Cheat Sheet for a list of items that can go in your home curbside recycling cart.

-Tina Angerer is a Commissioner on the Rosemount Environment and Sustainability Commission


February 2, 2022: Keep It Out of the Trash When Decluttering Your Home

Room with lots of clutter that needs to be removedFebruary is not too early to start thinking about spring cleaning, and decluttering may be a good place to start. Getting rid of excess and fixing broken stuff can help you feel more relaxed, happier and more in control.  There are many ways to reduce your unwanted possessions but do it in a way that is good for the environment— donate, sell, borrow and repair.

Here are some helpful tips to get you started: 

  • Donate unwanted usable clothes, jewelry, and furniture to a secondhand organization. Find a donation option near you or use the Dakota County Green Guide for information on how to properly dispose of items.
  • Check in the garage and peek under the bathroom and kitchen sink. Take cleaners and other chemicals that you don’t use to The Recycling Zone
  • Donate unneeded sheets, blankets and towels to Bridging Inc. or bring them to the Animal Humane Society to be used for bedding, grooming or cleaning up. 
  • Get your broken items fixed so they will be useful again. Attend a Fix-It Clinic to get free repair help  or take items to a local repair businesses listed in the Dakota County Reduce and Reuse Map.
  • Borrow or rent tools and equipment that you don’t use often instead of buying them, to free up space around your home.   Find local businesses that rents out items in the Dakota County Reduce and Reuse Map.
  • Swap unwanted usable items from your closet, basement or garage for something that you need that is new-to-you at a community swap.

-Renee Burman is a Commissioner on the Rosemount Environment and Sustainability Commission


January 3, 2022: It's Nation Radon Action Month, Has Your Home Been Tested?

RADON, WHAT EXACTLY IS IT? Radon is an odorless, colorless, and naturally occurring radioactive gas. It causes no immediate symptoms, so the only way to know if your home is affected is by testing your individual residence.

Radon can be inhaled into the lungs where it can cause damage to one’s DNA, increasing cancer risks. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer (smoking is number one) in the United States. An estimated 21,000 people die in the U.S. from radon-related lung cancer every year.

HOW DOES IT WORK? Radon forms beneath your home and can enter through cracks and holes in the foundation or through well water.

About 1 in every 15 homes in the United States has what’s considered an elevated radon level.  Minnesota’s average radon level is more than three times higher than the U.S.

TESTING At-home testing kits are relatively inexpensive and available from most hardware stores. Dakota County also offers short-term radon tests free of charge at some of its locations, and the Minnesota Department of Health offers discounts for certain radon tests.

The Minnesota Department of Health recommends performing an initial short-term test and following the short-term test up with an additional test (short-term or long-term depending on your results) if results are above 1.9 picocuries per liter (pCi/L).   Winter is a good time to set up your testing kit because your home will likely be closed up for the next 3-6 months, reducing natural airflow from outside.   The lowest level of your home that is regularly used (e.g. the basement) is the best place to locate your test.   You should retest radon levels in your home every 2-5 years.  

MITIGATION Radon levels in your home at or above 4 pCi/L should trigger you to take action to reduce the radon level as soon as possible.  Don’t panic if your residence has high levels of radon as there are easy ways to remedy the situation.

  1. Install a removal system that allows radon gas from beneath the home to be immediately vented outside.
    1. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Minnesota Department of Health recommend that you install a radon mitigation system by a licensed Radon Mitigation Professional if radon levels in your home are at or above 4 pCi/L.  You may still want to consider a mitigation system if your radon levels are 2 pCi/L or higher.  
    2. Financial assistance for installation of radon mitigation systems may be available to some residents that meet income requirements.
  2. You or a licensed radon mitigation specialist can also seal off any cracks in your home to keep radon gas from seeping through the cracks and into the indoor air.
  3. Retesting should be done regularly to ensure radon mitigation has been successful

RELIEF Radon is a common problem with potentially serious side effects. That’s why it’s ideal for everyone to consider home testing for radon so any issues can be resolved. Plus, knowing the air quality of your home can give you peace of mind and allow you to breathe a little easier.

Radon enters homes through foundation cracks, wall gaps, well water, sumps, and crawl spaces..

-Tina Angerer is a Commissioner on the Rosemount Environment and Sustainability Commission

November 19, 2021: Energy Savings on Holiday Lights

After a mild and warm fall, the snow season and the holiday are upon us.  When considering lighting decorations for the Holidays, consider switching to LED lights to save a lot of money and energy and to keep your decorations the talk of the neighborhood.

A typical outdoor decoration of 10 strings of lights will cost about 640 Watts in energy and about $10.80 for traditional bulbs.  Using LED would cost about 100 Watts in energy and about $1.65.  A savings of 540 Watts and $9.15.   

Even enthusiastic decorators can save big.  If you use Roof lighting and walkway lighting and outdoor Tree lighting the cost for traditional lights would be about 6800 Watts of energy and $115.  Exchanging those lights for LEDs would cost about 900 Watts and $15.  LEDs save about 5900 Watts and $100.  Those savings really add up.

And you don’t have to throw all those old lights away.  They can be recycled.  To help assist you with your holiday light recycling, the City will be placing bins to recycle your old holiday string lights at the Community Center and Steeple Center through February 4.  You can also recycle your holiday lights and other hazardous materials year-round at The Recycling Zone located at 3365 Dodd Road in Eagan.  You can learn more about the best way to dispose of unused items by visiting the Dakota County Recycling Guide webpage.  

Thanks for doing your part to save energy this winter.

Holiday Light Collection Poster

-Katherine Koch-Laveen is a Commissioner on the Rosemount Environment and Sustainability Commission

October 6, 2021: What to do With the Leaves in Your Yard

The signs of fall are all around us. Kids are back to school, a crisp feel in the air, pumpkins in the stores... October is here along with all the chores that come with preparing for winter.  Of course, one of the biggest chores is raking leaves. They seem to be never-ending as and the wind whips up even more. Instead of seeing them as just another Saturday project, there are some easy and useful ways to dispose of that "litter".

Those pesky leaves are actually full of minerals and other organic materials that would make a quick and easy start to a compost pile that could enrich that vegetable garden you will be dreaming about come January. Just one shade tree provides enough leaves to equal $50 of plant food for your garden. You can help speed up the process by mowing or shredding them.

Another idea for those leaves is to use them as natural mulch. Just shred them and spread a 3-4 inch layer on your flower gardens or landscape areas. The leaves will protect roots, help maintain moisture and block the weeds that will pop up in the spring.

If your yard is not a carpet of leaves, you can also just leave them. Use your mower to shred them. The shreds will decompose over the winter and provide your lawn with nutrients and moisture protection that will help it thrive next year. One caution here.  You need to be able to see your grass through your shreds. if you can not, there are too many and you will still need to rake. You do not want to suffocate your grass.

If after all of this, you still have leaves and other yard waste, please remember you can not throw them in the trash. You can contact your trash hauler to find out about yard waste collection. The county also has a list of facilities you can drop your waste. Check out the list here.

-Kim Ciresi is a Commissioner on the Rosemount Environment and Sustainability Commission

September 9, 2021: We Want to Hear From You on Environment & Sustainability

Hello Rosemount Residents,

We could use your help.  A study is being completed that is looking to learn more about your thoughts and preferences on local environmental and sustainability issues, and we would appreciate it if you could fill out this quick, anonymous, 3-minute survey.  This survey will be used in a report that will look at how Rosemount can continue to grow while protecting its natural resources like green spaces, water reserves, and wildlife ecosystems while addressing technology, infrastructure, economy and community connection.  The report is part of a masters capstone project by a local resident that will be shared with the City for consideration when complete.  The City thinks that the study could help with local environmental and sustainability efforts.  Participation by residents like you is critical to planning for a sustainable future where residents can continue to enjoy a high quality of life.  We hope you will decide to participate.

Thank You – from the Rosemount Environment & Sustainability Commission.  


July 21, 2021: Come See Us at Leprechaun Days Midsummer Faire

Leprechaun Days is back!  We are so happy to gather with all of you for Rosemount’s annual summer festival once again.   We hope you stop by the City’s two booths at the Midsummer Faire to chat with and get your questions answered by City Council Members, Commission Members, and Staff.  One of the City booths will feature information on green programs and tips for residents and will include information on the following:

  • Recycling tipsMidsummer Faire Drawing
  • Information on organics drop-off sites
  • Green rebates and assistance programs
  • Adopt-a-Drain.org information
  • Information on planting for pollinators & native plants
  • Tips for reducing your carbon footprint
  • Free Milkweed seed packets while supplies last
  • Hourly drawings for countertop composting bins and reusable silicone straw sets for residents who sign up for one of these green programs:
    1. Conserve and Preserve Blog notifications
    2. Adopt-a-Drain
    3. Organics Site Drop Off
    4. An Energy Audit with your utility provider (requires a small fee)

We can’t wait to see you Friday and Saturday.  

-Jane Byron is the Storm Water Specialist for the City of Rosemount


June 23, 2021: Fireworks Etiquette

After a year of social distancing, we are finally getting the chance to gather with family and friends.  With summer and the 4th of July, many of us will include fireworks with our celebrations and gatherings.  Follow these tips to keep your bash from becoming a bummer for your neighbors:

  • Pick up after yourself when you’re done.  Fireworks leave behind lots of trash.  Trash left on roadways, sidewalks, and driveways can wash into stormdrains and then into your favorite neighborhood pond.  It can also be eaten by wildlife and pets, leading to choking or serious illness.
  • Dispose of “duds” properly.  Used and unused fireworks are a fire hazard in the trash.  Your used fireworks may potentially still be burning.  For spent fireworks or duds, thoroughly soak/submerge them overnight in water and double bag so they don’t dry out before you put them in the trash.  Dakota County recommends disposing of unused fireworks at The Recycling Zone located at 3365 Dodd Rd.  
  • Noises, like loud bangs, and bright flashing lights are a problems for wildlife, pets, and people with PTSD.  Fireworks can trigger those with PTSD.  Animals can be startled and flee, leading to lost pets that could find themselves injured.  As someone with horses on their property, I can tell you 1000 pounds of startled horse charging at you can put a downer on your day.  Try to plan events so that they are not too early in the day or too late at night.  Consider informing your neighbors of your plans.  This gives them time to plan for safely enclosing pets and can help those with PTSD prepare.  Please know that any fireworks that fly or explode are illegal in Minnesota, and it is illegal to use them on public property, including roads, per the State Fire Marshal.  
  • Be fire safe.  Don’t point fireworks at people or animals.  Don’t let children play with fireworks; nearly 45% of all fireworks injuries happen to children.  Don’t light fireworks indoors or near buildings; keep them in open areas away from brush and dry grasses.  The risk for unintended grass fires is higher this year with the hot dry weather we’ve been having. Keep a bucked of water nearby to extinguish fireworks.  Consider having other fire extinguishing materials nearby for emergencies.    

It’s great to finally be able to celebrate; let’s celebrate safely with less trash and noise pollution.  We hope you enjoy a fun summer of reconnecting with family and friends.  

-Katherine Koch-Laveen is a Commissioner on the Rosemount Environment and Sustainability Commission


May 13, 2021: Are You Watering Your Lawn Too Much?

Spring is here!  We’re exchanging our snow blowers for mowers, and as we start to get our gardens in, some of us might be starting up our irrigation systems.  But are you watering too much?  You could conserve water, save money, and still have a healthy green lawn with a few tweaks to your system.  

First, give your system an audit.  Run your system to look for broken heads, leaking lines, and nozzles that are spraying onto driveways and sidewalks.  Fix anything that is broken and readjust spray heads to save on gallons.

Second, we need to know how much water we need.  Lawns need about an inch of water from all sources per week (amount of rain + amount of watering = about 1” for a green lawn).  So, if you get a half an inch of rain on Monday, you only need to water another half inch later in the week.  If you get 1.25” of rain on Monday, you can skip watering that week.   Looking back at rainfall records from 2020 (see CoCoRaHS data) for the watering season (4/26-10/31) there were 10 weeks where the City received roughly 1” or more of rain for a calendar week.  If you ran your irrigation system every week in 2020, you overwatered.

Next, we need to figure out how much rain we’ve had so that we don’t overwater.  Of course, you can always put out your own rain gauge and keep track as you go; make sure it is well placed (not under trees or overhangs, not getting overflow water from the roof, etc.).  And there are lots of places to get daily weather observations,  If you are relying on a rain sensor connected to your irrigation system, make sure it is maintained.  Many rely on cork disks in the sensors that tend to dry out and crack; they generally need replacement every 3-5 years to remain functional.  

Now, you need to know how long to run your system to apply the desired amount of water.  If you don’t have a smart irrigation controller with appropriate sensors that will shut off your system when enough water is applied, you will have to do a catch can test to determine how long you can run your irrigation system to apply the correct amount of water.  Follow the link to learn how to do a catch can test.

So, maybe you’re thinking, but what about watering restrictions?  The City of Rosemount has watering restrictions in place May 1 through August 31 in order to help conserve the drinking water supply.  No watering can occur between noon and 6:00 PM May 1 through August 31.  Additionally, even numbered houses can only water on even numbered days and odd numbered houses can only water on odd numbered days.  Don’t be worried if you accidentally miss your day to water.  The University of Minnesota Turfgrass Science group has done experiments where they have cut all water off to turf (rain and irrigation) for as much as 60 days (yes, that’s not a typo, that’s 60) and it has recovered afterward (see the Watering Wisdom Webinar series).  Your lawn will not be harmed if it has to wait an extra couple of days to be watered.  This is also a good reason to not feel pressured to irrigate at all.  It is very rare for water to be so scarce in the Twin Cities that your lawn can’t bounce back from dormancy (when it turns a little brown) in the summer.

Don’t believe that you can save money?  Let’s go back to the year 2020 and those 10 weeks where we had enough rain to skip irrigating for the week.  If we take a typical lawn size of 9000 square feet, it takes roughly 5600 gallons to apply one inch of water over the entire area.  Over 10 weeks, that 56,000 gallons of wasted water (and that’s if you only irrigate an inch of water).  In Rosemount, we bill quarterly, so let’s split that volume over 2 quarters.  At 28,000 gallons, you’ve already bumped yourself up to the third billing tier.  At $2.41 per 1000 gallons of water, you’ve just wasted $135.  If you are at the fourth tier for usage, you’ve just spent $203 that you didn’t need to.  

But wait, there’s more!   We can help you implement these changes.   The City of Rosemount offers a rebate program for certain water efficiency upgrades (sorry, new construction homes do not qualify).  You can get a rebate for purchase or installation of a WaterSense Smart Irrigation Controller or for paying a certified individual to do an irrigation audit.  And don't forget to check with your natural gas and electric utility providers for energy efficient appliance rebates.  

We’ve just touched the surface on ways to save water though turfgrass best practices.  For a deeper dive into the subject, we suggest you check out the Watering Wisdom Webinar series by the University of Minnesota.  Proper mowing height, turfgrass species, and more can help you keep your lawn green while saving water. 

-Jane Byron is the Storm Water Specialist for the City of Rosemount

  

April 26, 2021: Starting a Vegetable Garden

Spring seems to ignite in many of us the desire to grow a garden and produce fresh vegetables.    Gardening is also a fun and an educational activity for the entire family.  All you need is Sun, Soil and a Source of water.  Here are a few ideas that can help beginning gardeners gather the resources and the courage to take the first steps in setting up their first garden.  Experienced gardeners may find some helpful hints also.

Select a LOCATION for your garden, raised beds or garden boxes.  The location should get 6 to 8 hours of direct SUN daily.  Start small, perhaps about a 4 ft x 4 ft space so you can enjoy the garden and not feel burdened by maintaining it; a garden of about 10 ft to 12 ft square can provide vegetables for a family of four.  Save space for a trellis for climbing plants and for fencing to protect vegetables from wildlife and pets.  If you don’t have a yard, vegetables can be grown in large pots or containers on a patio or porch.    

SOIL quality is critical to gardening success.  If planning the garden on an area that previously was lawn grass, remove the sod and break up the underlying soil.  Add garden soil and compost to the area before planting; organic compost is available at most nurseries.  Use weed free materials to avoid maintenance headaches later.  Starting a compost bin near the garden can provide compost for the following year.  An inexpensive soil test can let you know if you need to add fertilizer to get started.

The garden location should also allow for easy access to WATER.  Water your vegetable garden in the morning so the plants can utilize the water during the day. Vegetables require about an inch of water a week from rain and watering combined, so appropriate drainage is also needed for the growing site.  Keep an eye on your plants.  If you see signs of wilting, your vegetable garden needs water.     

Select vegetables that your family enjoys.  Sketch out a plan, marking where each type of vegetable will be planted.  Planting taller crops like beans, corn, and peas on the north side of the garden keeps them from shading other crops. Varieties of tomatoes and squash usually go in the middle of the garden. Plant low crops, like lettuce and onions, on the south side of the garden area to ensure adequate sunlight.  Seed catalogues and even the packages of seeds are a great source of information about the spacing and depth of planting each variety of seed.  For faster and more reliable results, consider purchasing plants that have already started growing from the local nursery.  Local garden stores can also point out vegetables known to grow well in the area.  As soon as weeds show up, pull them by hand or remove them with a hoe.  You can inhibit weed growth by placing organic mulch between plants (e.g. grass clippings).  

These are just a few ideas to get started.  You can expand your garden a little each year as you get more confident.  You can find more information on growing vegetables on the University of Minnesota Extension website.  

-Katherine Koch-Laveen is a Commissioner on the Rosemount Environment and Sustainability Commission


March 22, 2021: Can I Recycle This?

Be a confident recycler by focusing on the following items. Do not use plastic bags. Put recyclables loose in your recycling cart or use a paper bag. Make sure bottles, jars and containers are empty and dry before recycling. They don't have to be perfect — just free of most residue like food and liquids. Leave caps on containers and flatten boxes.

All recycling service providers in Dakota County must accept these items: 

Paper
Newspapers & Inserts
Magazines & Catalogs
Mail & Office Papers
Cardboard
Corrugated Cardboard
Paperboard (e.g. Cracker Boxes)
Cartons
Milk & Juice Cartons
Soup, Broth, & Wine Cartons
Juice Boxes
Plastic Bottles, Containers, & Jugs
Containers Numbered 1, 2, or 5
Soda, Juice, & Water Bottles
Milk & Juice Jugs
Margarine & Other Tubs & Lids
Laundry Detergent Bottles & Jugs
Clear Berry & Produce Containers
Metal Cans
Aluminum, Tin, & Steel Cans
Glass Bottles & Jars

If you’re wondering about a specific item, use the online Recycling Guide.

DO NOT put these items in your recycling:

  • Batteries
  • Black plastic
  • Clothing and textiles
  • Electronics
  • Food
  • Diapers
  • Plastic bags and film
  • Shredded paper
  • Tanglers (e.g., chains, extension cords, hoses, string lights)

Free your bottles, cans and paper

Leave the plastic bag behind. Your bottles, cans and paper should go in your recycling cart loose – do not use a plastic bag for your recyclables. If you need a bag, use a paper bag.  Plastic bags ruin the recycling process and don’t get recycled because they cause the following problems:

  • Prevent workers from seeing if bad items are mixed in with good items.
  • Wrap around machines at the sorting facility.
  • Workers must crawl into sorting machi­ne to cut out tangled bags.

Plastic bags, bread bags, plastic wrap around paper towels and bubble wrap can be dropped off at grocery stores for proper recycling. Find drop-off locations in the online Recycling Guide.

-Renee Burman is a Commissioner on the Rosemount Environment and Sustainability Commission


Feb. 22, 2021: Compost in Winter? Yes, you CAN! 

Winter finds many of us hibernating in our homes trying to stay out of the cold. This year, in particular, we are doing that even more. We are probably working from home, doing some distance learning, and maybe even keeping that New Year's resolution to eat healthier. All of this adds up to an increased amount of food scraps in our garbage every day.  

Instead of throwing them into our garbage bins, we should consider composting them. What does this mean? When we compost food scraps, they are broken down into a material that is even better than soil. It is a great food for plants, holds more water than regular soil, and helps us save on fertilizers and weed killers. It also saves on what is headed to our landfills every week.

How do we compost? It's actually pretty easy. First, decide whether you want to do your own composting at home or if you would like to use the county's drop-off locations. The information on how to compost on your own can be found here.  The benefit of this avenue is that you will be able to use the enriched soil you are creating in your own backyard. Can you envision the beautiful flowers and yummy vegetables this summer?

Utilizing the county's drop off locations is also simple. Dakota County residents can sign up to participate in organics drop-off.  Learn about what is accepted at these locations and the best way to gather your compostable items. Once your collection bins/bags are full, take them to any of the locations listed below.

    Dakota County Transportation Shop - 900 County Road 47, Hastings

    Lakeville Water Treatment Facility - 18400 Ipava Ave., Lakeville

    Holland Lake Trailhead at Lebanon Hills Park - 1100 Cliff Road, Eagan

    The Mulch Store - 16454 Blaine Ave. E., Rosemount

    Thompson County Park - 1200 Stassen Road, West Saint Paul

Happy composting!

-Kim Ciresi is a Commissioner on the Rosemount Environment and Sustainability Commission


Jan. 21, 2021: Unplug and $ave

In the middle of winter, as energy bills increase, we can all take a moment to refocus on ways to reduce energy costs. Some methods are tried and true, but a few may be new to you.

Here are some classic energy saving techniques:

    Replace ALL incandescent bulbs with LED bulbs. Even the bulb that lights up your garage with the automatic garage door opener can be replaced! The LED bulb in the garage door opener does not get damaged by the vibration of the door opening and closing so it lasts longer than the incandescent bulb which has a fragile filament. The LEDs use a lot less energy to produce the same quality of light.

    Turn lights off as you leave a room. Continue to remind family members to turn off lights where they are not needed, even if the bulbs are LED.  

    Turn off appliances when not in use, including computers.

    Or better yet, unplug those unused appliances and electronics. Every heard the term "Energy Vampire"? Hairdryers, coffee makers, chargers, and all kinds of electronics can drain energy even when they are powered off, if they remain plugged in. Power strips and wall switches can help with cutting off the power to theses pesky energy wasters.  

    As the days get longer, use natural light whenever possible. Many of us close drapes or shades at night to conserve heat energy. Be sure to open them and let sunlight in during the day.

Here are some newer methods to save energy:

    Get a smart thermostat. Even with many of us home during the day, there may be some hours, like bedtime, when the thermostat could be set lower. The smart thermostat will automatically turn the heat up before you get out of bed in the morning. Rebates are available from most energy providers.

    Check your insulation level and add more insulation if needed. Adding insulation costs a bit up front, but the financial returns begin immediately. A good way to check on your insulation needs is to have a Home Energy Audit, provided by your energy company. The audits are done by experienced professionals who can also recommend reliable contractors to complete any insulation work that might be needed. In addition, most energy companies offer significant rebates for insulation upgrades. Inquire with your home energy provider on an Energy Audit and insulation rebates.   

Probably the most significant information about energy savings is the forecast of slightly above normal temperatures for the winter. Good luck in seeking out changes you can make in your house on your quest to save energy.

-Katherine Koch-Laveen is a Commissioner on the Rosemount Environment and Sustainability Commission



[See older blog entries.]