The Fastner couple of Andover were finally able to build the rain garden they had talked about for years thanks to a road reconstruction project and a local company’s donation.
When Ellen and Peter Fastner lost a large shade tree to disease, their front yard was looking barren. Now the visible lot at the corner of South Coon Creek Drive and Raven Street has a rain garden that has added some color to a mostly gray and green corridor.
“This spring as everything started to come up, the neighbors have been excited,” Ellen Fastner said.
A lot of people will see this rain garden not only because of the vehicle traffic on this busy city road, but many people run, walk and bike past.
Ellen Fastner noted during a few minute period during the early Monday afternoon (Aug. 12) interview that three people had run by.
She also has seen the Andover High School cross country, track and Nordic ski teams. A school bus stop is nearby, so she sees a lot of younger kids as well.
The amount of foot traffic is why the Fastners wanted the road reconstruction project to take place and they are happy with the results. Ellen Fastner is thrilled that the timing worked out to get the rain garden done as well.
The main purpose of a rain garden is to provide an alternative storm water retention and treatment method. The Fastner property is a the perfect spot for a rain garden because most of Raven Street south of South Coon Creek Drive and a short segment of South Coon Creek Drive itself drains on to the property, according to Ellen Fastner.
Instead of just going to Coon Creek, the water in this area of the project drains to the rain garden, which cleans the water before it infiltrates the ground, according to Kameron Kytonen, natural resources technician for the city of Andover.
“It’s a great opportunity to improve the quality of storm water runoff,” Kytonen said. “It’s a nice break from the norm of conventional turf grass.”
Although Kytonen would love to see rain gardens become more common in Andover’s road reconstruction projects, this was really a perfect scenario for the city and the Fastners.
Ellen Fastner said she and her husband Peter moved into their Andover home in 2003 and had been contemplating a rain garden for quite some time. Peter works for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and is very knowledgeable about water runoff and rain gardens. Ellen loves to garden, so she brought her knowledge of flowers and plants to the table.
When they heard about the city’s plan to reconstruct South Coon Creek Drive from Crosstown to Round Lake boulevards last year, “we thought this was the perfect opportunity” to complete their rain garden project, Ellen Fastner said.
Andover Assistant City Engineer Jason Law and Engineer Technician Jake Knuston led the design of the South Coon Creek Drive drainage plan, which ultimately included this rain garden, Kytonen said.
The city had heard that Mickman Brothers, a Ham Lake landscaping, irrigation and gardening company, had contacted cities expressing interest in donating to a project, Kytonen said.
Ellen said Mickman Brothers donated all plants and flowers and Mariah Mickman, daughter of John Mickman, is the business’ landscape care manager and visited the Fastners to help design the project.
Designing a rain garden is much more than digging a depression in a lawn and planting some flowers. For starters, a curb cut is needed, which was done during the road reconstruction project.
The Fastners have a diagram with dozens of color coded spaces showing different types of plants that will work for areas of the garden. Rocks are required by the entry points to slow down the water and prevent erosion, but plants such as blue flag iris that can handle turbulent water are needed near these areas.
The lowest areas of a rain garden should have high water tolerant plants such as swamp milkweed or turtleheads, Ellen said. Other flowers can fill in the middle areas that get water at a moderate pace, she said.
Kytonen was surprised how fast everything has sprouted since last fall, he said.
Ellen said their neighbors were worried about the contractor digging a hole in their lawn, but the Fastners assured all those concerned that it was part of the plan.
Now plants such as common oxeye, chokeberry bush, coneflowers, marsh marigold and cardinal flower are blooming.
“Next year it will be even more vibrant,” Kytonen said.
Eric Hagen is at