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2021 Gravel Growers Giveaway

What is a Gravel Grower?

Our gravel growers are young trees and shrubs that are being temporarily housed in gravel beds so that their roots can grow dense and hardy. While in a gravel bed, a sapling will grow at it's normal rate above ground, but below ground will form a fibrous root system that will give it an advantage when it's eventually planted in the ground.
Learn more about gravel beds.



The Watershed District will provide saplings to residents interested in having them planted on their property. Planting trees on your property provides a full range of ecosystem services, and are an excellent way to minimize stormwater runoff. The leaves of the tree, or canopy, provide surface area for rainwater to land and be absorbed as well as slow down rain as it falls. The roots of a tree not only take in water but also create healthy soil conditions which promote better infiltration. Trees also help control erosion and runoff along our lakes and creeks by using their roots to stabilize slopes and capturing nutrients before they can reach our waterways.
Learn more about the benefit of trees.

The Giveaway

Interested in adopting a tree? We have over 100 trees waiting to be planted! Trees will be young saplings, approximately 2-3 feet tall. Species available include:

  • Common Ninebark
  • Quaking Aspen
  • Eastern Redbud
  • Swamp White Oak
  •  Red Osier Dogwood
Please note that while we will do our best to fulfill your preference, species availability is subject to change.

Preference will be given to residents of the Riley Purgatory Bluff Creek Watershed District. See if you live within our bounds

Sign up for a tree

We will be in touch later this fall to discuss the quantity of trees available for you. Stay tuned for more information about tree pick-up happening late October. Email Eleanor at with questions.


Our Gravel Growers:


Common Ninebark

A flowering shrub, Common Ninebark is an excellent windbreaker and shoreline stabilizer with fibrous roots and dense vegetation. A member of the rose family, Common Ninebark provides nectar and pollen to a variety of pollinator species. Ninebark does well in partial to full sun, and can thrive in both wet and dry soils. Fun fact: ​​​​​Ninebark gets its name from its exfoliating bark, which peels back in layers as it matures.
Read more about Common Ninebark.


Quaking Aspen

A small to medium-sized tree, Quaking Aspen typically grows to around 60 feet high, with gray-green bark and a round, open crown. Quaking Aspen does best in cool climates with rich, moist soil. The most abundant tree in Minnesota, Quaking Aspens reproduce quickly by sending sprouts up from their roots, creating a web of 'clone' trees connected underground. Fun Fact: a clonal colony of Quaking Aspen in Utah is thought to be the largest single organism by mass in the world.
Read more about Quaking Aspen.


Eastern Redbud

A small tree or large shrub, Eastern Redbuds are usually one of the first trees  to bloom in the spring. They can grow to 20-30 feet high with a short trunk and will form a rounded shape if planted out in the open. The red-purple buds make the Eastern Redbud a lovely ornamental tree, provided it has partial to full sun. While the Eastern Redbud can thrive in a variety of soils, it does not tolerate salt well, so it's best to keep your Redbud away from areas with winter salt use.
Read more about Eastern Redbud.


Swamp White Oak

A great shade-producing tree, the Swamp White Oak grows 50-60 feet and its leaves turn yellow-gold in the fall. It is a generally durable tree, tolerant of both wet soils and drought, earning its place as a “street tree”. Young trees are tolerant of light shade but will prefer full sun as they reach maturity. Fun fact: the Swamp White Oak has a two-layer root system, which allows it to grow in areas that are flooded in spring but dry in the summer.
Read more about Swamp White Oak.


Red-Osier Dogwood

A favorite of landscapers and gardeners, the Red-Osier Dogwood is known for its bright red stems which provide of pop of color year-round. A very hardy shrub, the Red-Osier Dogwood will tolerate clay soils, wet soils, occasional drought, and shade- though it thrives in moist soils, making it effective erosion control along streambanks. The Red-Osier Dogwood is considered a large shrub, growing quickly to heights of 7-9 feet and spreading slowly outward up to 10 feet. Fun fact: the berries of the Red-Osier Dogwood are eaten by at least 18 species of birds.
Read more about Red-Osier Dogwood.