Knowledge Center

Greening Lab

Greening Lab is an initiative to grow street trees in downtown Minneapolis.

In a city with a nation-leading park system and leafy neighborhoods, downtown has been the gap in our tree canopy for generations. Trees cover 30% of Minneapolis overall, but only 4% in the downtown core. This is significant for our community because street trees are an invaluable resource for improving public health, addressing the heat island effect, and creating an inviting public realm. And although there has been a historic level of capital investments in green infrastructure over the last ten years downtown, relatively few trees have survived to maturity. Existing approaches to maintenance were not effective, and advocacy to public partners for more resources and attention was at an impasse.

With a long-term goal of bringing other partners to the table, the Mpls Downtown Improvement District led the charge with a set of low-cost pilot projects starting in 2017: watering every street tree weekly during its establishment period, improving communication and engagement with interactive tree tags (identifying species, ID number in database, and a text-a-tree service), and documenting the condition of every tree every year. These tactics were part of a broader strategy to demonstrate that better outcomes for our tree canopy and the community it benefits are possible, and – in so doing – build momentum for more investments to follow.

Project Details

Greening Lab

Minneapolis Downtown Improvement District


Public Space Management and Operations
$5000001 - $7500000
$ 50,000

Project Resources