The Lawns to Legumes program offers a combination of workshops, coaching, planting guides and cost-share funding (individual support grants) for installing pollinator-friendly native plantings in residential lawns. The program also includes Pollinator Pathways grants, which are pollinator programs run by local governments and nonprofit organizations with support from BWSR, and a public education campaign to raise awareness about creating pollinator habitat. BWSR is partnering with Metro Blooms and Blue Thumb – Planting for Clean Water to administer the program. Find details on Individual Support Grants, Pollinator Pathways, public outreach and more at the bottom of this web page.

Minnesota is home to more than 450 native bee species. Pollinators also include butterflies, moths, beetles and native flies. All play a key role in pollinating many food crops and native plants, but populations have significantly declined worldwide in recent years. Population decline can be attributed to habitat loss and lack of related nutrition for pollinators, as well as pesticide use and pathogens. Lawns to Legumes seeks to combat population decline by creating new pollinator habitat and habitat corridors that provide food sources and nesting space for pollinators. The program emphasizes protection of at-risk species, such as Minnesota's state bee, the federally-endangered Rusty patched bumble bee.


Funding is provided by the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund (ENRTF) and the state General Fund. The Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) administers the Lawns to Legumes program, and Blue Thumb — Planting for Clean Water and Metro Blooms coordinates the Lawns to Legumes Individual Support grants.

Lawns to Legumes is accepting applications for spring 2025 grants. Apply online on Blue Thumb's website. Applications will be accepted through November 30, 2024. If you previously applied for the program, you will need to reapply to be considered for spring 2025 funding. Sign up for program updates here.

View a print-ready program overview here.

View a list of eligible expenses and plant materials for Individual Support Grants here

Get started creating pollinator habitat with BWSR's Planting for Pollinators Habitat Guide. This guide was developed specifically for the Lawns to Legumes program to create a one-stop shop for planning, implementing and maintaining pollinator habitat projects.

Lawns to Legumes outcomes and accomplishments

Since Lawns to Legumes launched in August 2019, the program has:

  • Received more than 30,000 applications from Minnesotans for individual support reimbursement grants
  • Funded approximately 5,000 pollinator habitat projects in all 87 Minnesota counties
  • Awarded more than 40% of all grants to residents in environmental justice areas
  • Supported more than 700 do-it-yourself projects supported by program resources
  • Recruited 270 volunteer coaches in 49 counties across the state
  • Created nearly 12 million square feet of high diversity residential pollinator habitat
  • Trained and educated more than 8,000 people via program workshops, webinars and presentations
  • Funded 32 Pollinator Pathways projects in communities throughout Minnesota
  • Fostered collaboration with more than 60 partner organizations
  • Supported more than 50 businesses that help residents create pollinator habitat
  • Created habitat in more than 70 community spaces
  • Sequestering more than 160 metric tons of carbon per year
  • Collecting more than 3 million cubic feet of water in gardens per year
planting for pollinators guide

Creating Pollinator Habitat

Many people who have contacted BWSR are not looking for funding, but information about how to create pollinator habitat.

Recommended practices

Lawns to Legumes recommends four project types for creating pollinator habitat:

  • Native Pocket Planting (small garden): Pocket plantings are small clusters of native plants that provide food and shelter to pollinators and are recommended for new gardeners. You can install a pocket planting with as little as 10 square feet.
  • Beneficial Trees and Shrubs: Beneficial trees and shrubs offer overwintering habitat and food sources. They are recommended for beginner and intermediate gardeners.
  • Pollinator Lawn: Also known as bee lawns, this practice involves inter-seeding pollinator-friendly species into existing turf or low-growing native plants. This practice is recommended for experienced gardeners. Additional resources include:
  • Pollinator Meadow: Pollinator Meadows are larger groupings of native plants that provide habitat and water quality benefits. They are recommended for experienced gardeners.

Native plant selection

Resources in this section can help you select native plants for your garden, find native plant nurseries, and combat noxious weeds.

Care and Maintenance

Resources in this section help you care for your pollinator planting so it can thrive.

Citizen Science

Use the tools below to learn about Minnesota pollinators and assist with data collection that improves our overall knowledge of at-risk species and their habitat needs.

  • Bumble Bee Watch is a community science project that helps researchers determine the status and conservation needs of bumblebees. Record sightings, upload photos and learn more about bumble bee ecology.
  • Explore Monarch Joint Venture's Community Science Opportunities
  • Identify plants and animals in your environment using the iNaturalist application.

Lawns2Legumes Yard Sign

This yard sign (with the L2L logo above) is mailed to L2L cost-share recipients. However, anyone who establishes a habitat project may print and display the sign on their own site. We ask that if you use the sign you also map your self-installed project on the Blue Thumb webpage. The intended size of the sign is 9" in diameter.

Lawns2Legumes Yard Sign (pdf)


Individual Support Grants

Minnesota residents can apply during active signup periods to be reimbursed for up to $400 in costs associated with establishing pollinator habitat in their yards. Individual Support grant recipients must provide at least a 25% match for their total reimbursement request. This match can be in the form of purchasing materials, hiring contractors or as in-kind time spent planting or maintaining plants (at $25/hr). 

Grant recipients are expected to map their completed projects in order to apply for reimbursement. If you did not receive an individual support grant, you can still map your project to help provide a clearer picture of where pollinator habitat can be found around the state.

Workshops, free planting guides and online resources are available to anyone who wishes to pursue a DIY project.

Individual Support grant recipient resources:

Pollinator Pathways Grants

Pollinator Pathways grants support community projects intended to enhance pollinator habitat in key corridors, raise awareness about residential pollinator protection and showcase best practices. Organizations overseeing a Pollinator Pathways grant will work with local residents to install four types of beneficial planting practices: native pocket plantings, pollinator beneficial trees and shrubs, pollinators lawns and pollinator meadows. Local governments, nonprofit organizations, and tribal governments were invited to apply through a Request for Proposals (RFP) process in 2020 and 2022. 

Learn more about Pollinatory Pathways grants.

What is a legume?

A Legume is a species in the pea family (Fabaceae family). The term is also used to describe a type of fruit that plants in the pea family produce. Most legumes have a fruit structure like a pea pod. In Minnesota, agricultural crops such as soybeans or green beans qualify as legumes, but we also have many native legumes that play important ecological roles in the landscape. These native species can be trees, shrubs or herbaceous plants and are commonly used as part of ecological restoration projects or plantings to benefit pollinators and provide many other environmental benefits.

Learn more about legumes and their role in pollinator habitat by reading our "What is a Legume?" fact sheet.

Pollinator Habitat Basics

The first step toward creating pollinator habitat is deciding how you want to make a change on your property or rental space*.

Before you begin, use this chart to determine the best type of project for your yard and lifestyle. Planning, installation, maintenance, cost and aesthetics are addressed in BWSR’s Planting for Pollinators Habitat Guide.

*Projects on rental properties must be approved by landlords

Key items to consider for your pollinator project:

  • Grow pollinator friendly flowers by installing Minnesota origin native plants.
  • Increase biodiversity by choosing three blooming plants per season: spring, summer and fall.
  • Don’t want to plant a large garden? Consider planting beneficial trees and shrubs instead.
  • Eliminate the use of insecticides and fungicides as much as possible.
  • Take before/after photos to track your progress.
  • Help spread the word about free technical resources available to start your own pollinator project.
  • Reminder: Sharing plants with soil is NOT recommended due to possible spread of Jumping Worms. 
Outreach and Education

Raising awareness and educating the public about the importance of pollinator habitat is a key component of the Lawns to Legumes Pilot Program. Efforts to date include:

  • Lawns to Legumes was formally launched in 2019 at the Minnesota State Fair Eco Experience. The exhibit featured native plantings, an opportunity to ask volunteers questions about the program, and options to sign up for program updates. 
  • A partnership among BWSR, Blue Thumb and the Minneapolis College of Art and Design yielded a year-long social media campaign showcasing student artwork to promote the program's values and goals on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
  • BWSR's Medium blog features articles from BWSR Senior Ecologist and Vegetative Specialist Dan Shaw providing advice on specific aspects of creating pollinator habitat. 
  • Lawns to Legumes has been featured in 128 published articles, including publications with a national audience such as O the Oprah Magazine and Mother Jones.
  • Workshops are an essential component of Lawns to Legumes. So far, the program has held 27 resident workshops training 1,444 residents and 11 train the trainer workshops that equipped 657 trainers with the knowledge they need to help others create pollinator habitat.
  • Online resources are provided to all interested residents on BWSR's program webpage. Program staff continue to update resources as more become available.


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