Gravel Beds

What is a community gravel bed?

A gravel bed is an irrigated bed or pile of gravel where bare root or washed containerized stock is placed and safely held for up to 3-6 months. This system has been in use at commercial nurseries, municipalities, and universities for over 20 years. There are many communities in Minnesota that have built and are currently using the gravel bed system with great success.

In a gravel bed, the above ground portion of the tree will not grow any faster than normal. The purpose of the gravel bed is to increase the fibrous root system, prepare for planting at a later date and recover poor root systems.  A gravel bed can provide many advantages over planting traditional bare root, balled and burlapped, and containerized stock.

Gravel bed benefits

  • Savings: Gravel beds can save the community money through the utilization of bare root stock, which is typically 1/2 the price of containerized trees and 1/4 the price of balled and burlap trees.
  • Species Diversity: Gravel beds can help increase species diversity because there are typically more species available as bare root stock than as containerized or balled & burlapped stock. Greater species diversity can reduce a community’s vulnerability to insects and disease.
  • Flexible Planting Times: Gravel beds allow bare root stock obtained in the spring to be planted in the throughout the growing season and into the fall. Communities can plant less expensive trees when they have the time and resources.

Video Resources

Remote video

Additional Gravel Bed Resources

Minnesota Community Gravel Bed Inventory

Visit the inventory page for a map and inventory list of gravel beds throughout the state!

Mankato's Gravel Bed Established 2013

Mankato's Gravel Bed, established 2013