Learning Garden Updates

May 31, 2024

The Learning Garden is undergoing several transformations! Three major project areas along Folwell Ave in the Learning Garden are marked with yard signs, as well as a newly installed solarization project on the east-side of the garden. Stop by the intersection of Folwell & Gortner Avenues to see these spaces transform in person! This webpage will be regularly updated with the project statuses.

Perennial Bed Area

The eastern end of Folwell Avenue will be planted with perennial plants for horticulture courses and to trial roadside plants for home gardeners. Many of the perennial plants for this area will be used for plant identification courses, as well as for plant material for the plant propagation course.

Currently this space is being sprayed and mulched to prepare the bed for planting perennials. 

Gathering Space: Seating, Turfgrass, & Perennials

This central area of the garden will be a communal gathering space showcasing good shade tree selections, turf for high foot traffic, and beautiful perennial border plantings.

Last summer, 2023, the area was frequently mowed to prevent weeds from flowering and increasing the weed seed bank. It was sprayed, tilled, and seeded with mixed fescue around Labor Day. This year, perennial beds and seating will be added to the turfed area. The perennials in this space comprise a mixture of herbaceous and woody plants that will provide greater plant diversity for the garden and eventual shade for the benches.

Boulevard Trees & Turfgrass Demonstration Area

The space along the western half of Folwell Ave will highlight small trees and turf that perform well on a boulevard. The turfgrass mixture used has demonstrated resilience towards roadside conditions through previous research studies around the state of Minnesota. The turf will be monitored for compatibility with the various trees throughout the trees’ lifecycles. 

Last summer, 2023, the area was mowed and the large weedy trees and shrubs were removed, including the removal of stumps. It was sprayed, tilled, and seeded with mixed fescue around Labor Day. This year, the boulevard trees will be planted.

Solarization Demonstration Area

The space for the solarization demonstration was selected because it historically has been a tough site to manage due to the extensive weed seed bank and direct sun  it receives throughout the day. 

There are three plots: 1) the northern area is not sprayed, is tilled, and has clear plastic; 2) the central area is sprayed, tilled, and has clear plastic; and 3) the southern area is sprayed, tilled, and covered with general purpose masking paper and wood mulch. The third area is not a form of solarization and is being used to showcase a common weed control method for small landscape spaces.

The plastic will be left in the garden for 6-8 weeks, depending on the weather (sunlight and temperature). Once the plastic is removed, the area will not be tilled. Why isn’t this area being tilled? One of the purposes of the clear plastic is to kill the seeds in the top few inches of the soil. If the area is tilled, new weed seeds will be brought to the surface and start growing.

After solarization is complete, a mixture of perennials will be planted. Want to learn more about solarization? Visit the Extension webpage: https://z.umn.edu/Solarization 

This project is a collaborative effort between Extension and the Department of Horticultural Science.

Learning Garden Map