Roots in the Ground is an innovative private-public collaboration between residents, business owners, schools, organizations and others to plant 5,000 canopy shade trees in 5 years.

Mendota Heights will lose thousands of ash trees in the coming years due to the quickly spreading Emerald Ash Borer infestation. Once this insect’s larvae bore into an ash tree, the tree has virtually no chance of survival without a perpetual chemical treatment. 

With its one billion ash trees, Minnesota has one of the largest concentrations of ash in the country. And Mendota Heights alone has over 15,000 of these trees. To help replace some of this devastating tree loss, we at the Mendota Heights community canopy-tree project are launching an initiative to plant at least 5,000 new canopy trees in our community.  

Warming Streets
One important aspect of planting canopy trees is the cooling shade they will offer our community against the backdrop of a continuously warming climate in years to come. Planting canopy trees near heat-absorbing surfaces (think roadsides, parking lots, sidewalks, heat absorbing buildings) offers the added benefit of moderating our local suburban heat island. 

Who we are and why we care
Roots in the Ground

As described in the Mendota Heights Natural Resources Management Plan:  “While not a dense, urban community like downtown St. Paul, the City of Mendota Heights nonetheless experiences “heat island effects whereby buildings, roadways, and other artificial surfaces absorb and export heat, which increases local air temperature, lengthens the growing season, and even affects local weather patterns. Different land cover surfaces absorb sunlight differently, and therefore emit or export different amounts of heat during the day and especially at night when air temperature falls below that in the daytime.”

Image courtesy of the city of Rosemount

By planting canopy trees near a front yard easement (or, near back or sideyard easements if near heat emitting surfaces), we can begin to create a cooling homegrown roadside tree canopy as well as help replace the thousands of ash trees our community will lose to Emerald Ash Borer disease.

To learn where the easement is on your property, contact Ryan Ruzek at the city of Mendota Heights at

Image source: Metropolitan Council

To Create a Homegrown Shade Tree Canopy, Plant Trees Close To The Easement Line On YOUR Side Of The Property’s Easement.
By planting canopy trees near a front yard easement line (or, near back or sideyard easements if near heat emitting surfaces), we can begin to create a cooling homegrown roadside tree canopy. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, (Using Trees and Vegetation to Reduce Heat Islands): “Trees and vegetation lower surface and air temperatures by providing shade and through evapotranspiration. Shaded surfaces, for example, may be 20–45°F (11–25°C) cooler than the peak temperatures of unshaded materials. Evapotranspiration, alone or in combination with shading, can help reduce peak summer temperatures by 2–9°F.”

What is an easement?
An easement is an area where the property owner has restrictions on what they can do. They are a grant of one or more property rights by the property owner (e.g., your yard) for use by another entity (e.g., the City of Mendota Heights, Dakota County, Xcel Energy). The recipient of the easement (such as the City of Mendota Heights) has the right to use the land in the easement for a specific purpose. The homeowner still owns and maintains the easement but cannot use the land in a manner that interferes with the rights granted under the easement.