growing our downtown forest

Greening Lab

Downtown Minneapolis has been the donut hole in the city’s tree canopy for generations. Not enough trees have been planted, and too many of the trees that have been planted haven’t survived and matured. This has serious implications for public health, the urban heat island effect, our natural environment, and the beauty of our public realm. Downtown’s dense urban environment poses greater threat to fledgling trees, in the form of less water, and more heat, wind, road salt and damage potential than trees in other neighborhoods. As a result, these trees need more support. Greening Lab was formed to incite a rising tide of support and investment to change that.

Starting in 2017, Green Cities Accord has partnered with DID and the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board on Greening Lab, a series of tree pilot projects geared to support the young trees planted downtown. Additional funding is contributed by the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization, the Downtown Minneapolis Neighborhood Association and individuals. Greening Lab is gathering critical data on the most effective ways to ensure that new trees thrive.


Learn about the strategies Green Cities Accord and the Mpls Downtown Improvement District employed to increase street tree survival rates and grow the downtown forest.

Video 1: Getting to Know Greening Lab
Video 2: Understanding the Impact of Salt
Video 3: Watering Young Street Trees
Video 4: High-Quality Planting Methods
Video 5: Stormwater Management Planters
Video 6: Annual Volunteer Tree Census

Tree tags

We identify trees with tags to draw attention to our newest trees. It enables anyone to learn more about the individual tree and the benefits it generates, and report maintenance concerns.

When you see a tree tag downtown, give that tree a shout! Text a tree, learn more about it, and use the hashtag #greeninglab to raise awareness that our plucky young trees are part of a growing downtown Minneapolis forest.


We measure, track, and record detailed information about the performance of 6,400 trees downtown.


Young urban street trees need much more water than they’ve typically gotten downtown. A lot of concrete, road salt use, heat island and wind tunnel effects all contribute to a challenging hot and dry environment. In addition to the 375 trees watered by DID-maintained irrigation systems, Greening Lab waters all other new trees within the combined boundaries of DID and the Downtown Minneapolis Neighborhood Association weekly.


Standards for the quantity of planting or structural soil surrounding each new tree site have been raised dramatically, and soil sensors are being piloted to learn more about nutrient, water and salinity conditions.