SUNThisWeek | April 2107

Eagan Backyard wins landscaping award

by Andy Rogers
April 27, 2017 – SUNThisWeek

When the Renn family sits in their backyard in their Eagan neighborhood, it feels like they’ve escaped to the Northwoods.

“It reminds us of camping on the North Shore,” homeowner Toni Renn said. “We have a favorite spot right on the Baptism River where we wake up to the sound of the river.”

Other people like the Renns’ backyard too, so much so that it won an award.

The backyard’s architect from Southview Design won the 2017 “Going Native” award from the Minnesota Nursery and Landscape Association earlier this year.

Before the makeover, the Renns’ backyard was filled with sandy soil, it had erosion issues and little room to play.

Southview Design landscape architect Meg Arnosti designed a naturalistic setting featuring native garden plantings with a stream, waterfall and pond stocked with native fish.

“We can see the waterfall from almost every room in the house,” Renn said.

The sandy soil was leveled. A stream and a drainage system was installed to manage storm water.

“Eagan has sandy soil and if you put sand on a slope, there’s nothing holding it back,” Arnosti said.

The homeowners are lovers of the outdoors and they love to fly fish, but they don’t have a cabin for such an escape.

“They wanted to have a haven in their own backyard,” Arnosti said. “And they’re very friendly people, so they wanted to have a big enough fire pit to have friends over.”

They also wanted it capture some of the natural habitat they’ve grown to love in Minnesota, so they used stone from the Boundary Waters.

The pond is populated with native fish such as perch and crappie.

Arnosti said she has never had a request to create a habitat for native fish.

“Most people want goldfish or carp,” Arnosti said.

Arnosti said people usually love the idea of using native plants in their landscaping, but not everyone in Minnesota likes the way they look.

“They’re used to cultivated plants that are neat and tidy,” Arnosti said. “Native plants tend to be wilder. They love the idea, but not everybody has gone whole hog. If people were to see this place, I think they’d change their mind.”

Wild, native plants tend to grow together and interconnect.

“It’s quite beautiful,” Arnosti said. “It’s like a wild prairie.”

She said people are starting to request more pollinating plants because they recognize why important they are to the ecosystem.

“Many of the plants, the flowering plants you’d think would attract butterflies, don’t attract the butterflies because of the way they’re bred,” Arnosti said. “The native plants truly attract the pollinators we need. They’re tricky to find. A standard nursery doesn’t always have them. But places like Bachman’s Nursery are growing them now.”