Balancing Urban Development and Water Conservation

Posts By: Victorian

March Featured Project

Posted March 11, 2020 @ 2:17pm | by Victorian

March Featured Project

Bull’s Horn Food and Drink Celebrates Stormwater Runoff Creatively

When Amy and Doug decided to purchase a dive bar, they didn’t have grandiose plans to reform it, rather they chose to refine it. 


Playing off of ’70’s decor, signage, and vibe they offer a much improved version of the tv dinner, baskets of fresh fried chicken and the best hamburgers in town by mastering the perfect ratio. 


They made the restaurant a favorite community amenity for nearby residents with affordable good food and drink. And they didn’t stop there. 


They extended their purposeful intentions outside the building envelope. A super cool mural takes up the entire side of the mixed-use building. On the roof, solar panels were installed. 


Then it was determining what to do with the parking lot.


That’s when we could offer some help. 

Parking lot before 

First, understanding Amy and Doug’s personalities, the restaurant’s needed functionality, the quirkiness with the property and finally budget.


Since the first year of business isn’t the time to embark upon a big project, we came up with a phased plan that made sense. We started with the necessary basing and grading to remove the pothole-laden muddy lot to a useable aggregate lot. 


Next was a garbage/recycle pad and wooden structure. We even met with the refuse hauler to make sure alignment and the gate opening mechanism was sensible with a poorly placed overhead line.


The last and biggest highlight that first year was an outdoor patio. Not only did this provide more tables for more seating capacity but it helped to bring more revenue. 


Year 2 brought the other more earth-friendly aspects. 

1. Of course a raingarden. Despite some not so great subsoils, there was proper drawdown of standing water. With any raingarden, ponding water is okay. It’s actually okay up to 72 hours. Mosquitos are always a concern with standing water but the larvae need 7-10 days of water so any properly design raingarden doesn’t actually contribute to these breeding areas.


2. Pavers.  Permeable pavers in front of the entrance to welcome patrons, manage those icy times (permeable is better at that). Permeable allows for air flow. So when it’s cold outside those areas are warmer. In the summer, those areas are cooler. Cool, huh

Permeable pavers

3. Same old sort of blacktop. You might think blacktop isn’t so environmentally-friendly, but conventional pavement directed towards sustainable practices does make sense. Being sensible about materials in and materials out, hauling and disposal is being thoughtful with the carbon footprint.

4. Cistern. An above-ground cistern to capture the roof water is filtered and held. A cool pump and hose to make things easy for irrigation.

5. Native plantings. A good layer of compost was placed around the perimeter to give some good hearty nutrients to the native plug plants and low-input required fescue turf areas. 

With Earth Wizards’ help and Amy’s efforts, various grant funding helped to also finance the project. The next step is to apply for a stormwater fee credit with the City of Minneapolis.

We are elated that Doug and Amy were extremely mindful of their property and willing to do what they could towards the property’s environmental impact. With the stormwater mitigation work, it has lessened the amount of volume, heat and sediment that leaves the site and enters into the Mississippi River. It’s a perfect example that ties into Earth Wizard’s philosophy balancing urban development and water conservation.


Filed Under: Featured Project | Permalink

The Crack Effect

Posted March 4, 2020 @ 12:33pm | by Victorian

The Crack Effect

March Newsletter/Blog


The Crack Effect


Now that we are seeing glimpses of non-winter ahead, we get excited for green grass, beautiful flowers and warm sunlight rays. Unfortunately before the goodness happens we get the remnants that are left behind with winter; the ugliness. Dirty sediment, dormant vegetation and the reminder that it’s clean-up time. Time to get to work.


Winter takes a toll on pavements too 

Over the winter you may have noticed cracks in your driveway, sidewalk or patio a bit more than you usually do. Where the frost is most active is where the most movement occurs. That movement then translates to where the pavement is most susceptible. With concrete, after installation, cuts are placed in the surface with the intent that the movement will translate to those weakened areas (but that isn’t always the case). For asphalt, the surface is laid as one continuous mat so the expansion cracks form more “organically,” shall we say. 


Freeze/thaw cycle

Cold temperatures cause surfaces to contract which in turn makes those cracks look bigger. Conversely, warmer temperatures cause expansion, making the cracks smaller. What worsens cracks and diminishes pavement integrity? 

  • freeze/thaw cycles; 
  • severity of temperatures during those cycles; 
  • frequency of those cycles;
  • the quality and depth of base aggregate - provides a buffer to underlying earth movement; and,
  • existing subsoils - clay soils retain moisture which exacerbates the expansion/contraction process.


Thawing and moisture

Moisture becomes the biggest culprit.  As moisture enters into the crack it will get into the underlying base and potentially subsoils that will compromise the foundational support of the surface. When a substantial amount of force is applied, i.e. driving/parking a car over that spot, the surface is no longer supported properly and is prone to “caving” in. This is why you see potholes in the city street go from small to large quickly. In a driveway, generally you won’t see potholes but you’ll notice hairline cracks in the pavement around the crack beginning to form.


When should I pay attention to cracks?

With springtimes bringing more chances of rain, it’s a good time to think about crackfilling. Cracks up to 1/2” generally aren’t substantial enough to merit filling but you can still do so - it just is more difficult to get the material in. You can either continue to watch those smaller cracks until they’re at a point to fill or you can choose to route (widen) the crack to get an ample amount of material in. This is usually done by a contractor. 

Cracks over 1/2” generally should be filled. There are various materials on the market, whether you have an asphalt or concrete surface which can be purchased at your local hardware store or if you want a better commercial-grade product we recommend SealMaster in St. Paul (asphalt) or Brock White (concrete). 


If you’d like some assistance with getting this work done, give us a call/email and we can send our team out to get it done for you!  (763) 784-3833 or


If I don’t fill the cracks now what can happen?

Over time, when pavement is exposed to underlying moisture issues that cause the surface to be unsupported, more cracking will appear and can become more extensive. Once these areas begin to spread with cracks, generally termed “alligatoring,” it’s time to do something. Whether it’s a surface patch, infrared repair or a full dig-out and replacement our estimating team of Shelly, Derek and Gary can provide you the information you need to make an informed choice.


What is infrared technology and what repairs are appropriate?

Infrared is a heating system that penetrates deeper into the asphalt surface and allows a solid bond of the new asphalt to the existing. Repairs that can be fixed with infrared are; areas of porosity (“rocky”) that is unsightly,“birdbaths,” minor surface imperfections, oil spot removals and wide crack repairs. 


Earth Wizards has this technology on hand for any small areas! 


If you’d like more information on these topics and remedies for repairing asphalt and concrete surfaces, click on the following links or feel free to reach out to us directly:



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Filed Under: News Letter | Permalink

I have already recommended you! Our consultant, Shelly, was extremely knowledgeable. She explained (the process) in technical detail. She is the reason I chose Earth Wizards over the other 5 bidders. Installation crew was terrific and exceeded my expectations.

- Don P.
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