Grantee Guide

Are you a Lawns to Legumes grantee? This guide is for you!

Step 1: Getting Started

  • Confirm your participation in the program! Follow the link that was emailed to you to accept your grant. Download this list of important links for easy access.
  • Before you start your project, remember to take “before” photos of your project area. You will need to take “after” images once your project is completed. Before/after photos of your project are required for reimbursement.
  • Attend a grantee training webinar (you will be emailed details) or watch a webinar recording (see below).
  • All grantees will have access to “The Hive!” The Hive is a new community platform for grantees to connect. You will receive an email to access The Hive. Connect with each other in your region’s “space,” share resources, get answers from coaches, and get program updates from L2L staff.

Watch our 2023 Fall Grantee Kick-off webinar

See the 2023 Fall Grantee Kick-off slide show

Step 2: Plan and Install Your Project

Step 3: Complete your Project!

  • When your project is complete, submit your photos, receipts, and other documentation on our reimbursement page. Review our Reimbursement Guide for extra tips!
  • Please be patient as we send out your check and sign. There may be delays, but we are doing our best to review and approve reimbursement requests as they come. Once you receive your check, please deposit it within 90 days or your check will be voided.
  • Map your completed project so we can share the impact of our collective work on protecting the pollinators.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is eligible to be reimbursed?

See the list of Eligible Expenses and Acceptable Vegetation. To summarize, 70% of your grant must be used to purchase native plants and vegetation. 30% of your grant can be used on other expenses such as contractor work, renting equipment, mulch, etc. Please make sure you are not purchasing a cultivar or hybrid of a native plant.

Is there a way to have my list of plants confirmed before buying them?

Search for your plant on

If you do not find it on there, it probably is not a true native plant. You can also prevent purchasing cultivars and hybrids if you build your plant list off of our plant list resources on our website.

If you are really unsure about a few plants, you can email us at the L2L Helpline (, but we do not have the capacity to go through your entire list.

What needs to be filled out in order to be reimbursed?

After your project is completed, you will need to fill out this form.

You will need your before and after pictures and your receipts. If your receipt does not list the scientific name, please take photos of your plant tags so we can identify the plants.

Is there a particular number of plants I need to plant? Is there a minimum size the garden needs to be?

It would be best if you had plants that bloom in every season to ensure pollinators have habitat year-round, so we recommend aiming for 12 different native plants. There is no minimum size or number of plants you need to have.

What counts as a match?

Your match can be monetary or in-kind time. The in-kind time includes all the work you put into your project. This includes planning, site prep, attending a workshop, and the installation of your project.

Can I be reimbursed for hiring a contractor to complete my project?

Work done by contractors may qualify for reimbursement as long as the services fall under the list of eligible expenses. The resident must be approved for the grant before any expenses can be requested for reimbursement. Keep in mind, 70% of the grant must be used on native plants and trees/shrubs. Only 30% of the grant can be used on contractor services. This includes design work, site prep, and installation.

What do I do if I receive a grant, but no longer can complete a project?

You can email us at and we will remove you from the list. 

Can I apply again for another grant?

At this time, we are not awarding second grants until everyone who applied has received one. Thank you for your interest! We hope you will still continue adding pollinator habitat to your space.

I purchased project materials before I was notified of receiving a grant. Can I still be reimbursed?

Unfortunately, no. We are only allowed to reimburse you for receipts containing eligible expenses that are dated on or after the date of your notification.

Why hasn’t my check arrived yet?

We ask for your patience when waiting for reimbursement. Our team personally goes through each entry and reviews it for approval. As the timeline gets closer to the deadline, there will be a longer delay in getting requests approved. After requests are approved, checks are written and sent out.

Why did I not get the full amount I requested?

Our team carefully goes through each receipt and image to determine the reimbursement amount. It is your responsibility to make sure your items are eligible for reimbursement.

Can I add to an existing garden?

Yes! You can plant in multiple areas as part of the grant. Just make sure it is clear in your photos where you added the new additions. Your existing garden does not have to be native, but all new additions under the grant must be.

Does the mulch need to be all-natural to be reimbursed?

No, we will reimburse any type of mulch, but we recommend double shredded (sometimes called “premium”) hardwood mulch. It’s usually sourced more locally and does its job well.

How do I find out what type of soil I have in my yard?

You can do a soil test. The University of Minnesota Soil Testing Lab offers soil tests at a low cost, however soil tests are not a reimbursable expense under the Lawns to Legumes grant. Soils don’t often need to be amended for native plants because these plants are already adapted to our current soil conditions. You can bring in a sample of your soil to your local native plant nursery and ask them what plants would do best in your soil.

I have extra soil I need to dispose of. How do I go about this?

Search out landscape supply centers in your area. In the Twin Cities metro, we use Hiawatha Landscaping in South Minneapolis. The other thing we recommend to some people is finding a way to use the soil on your site—is the ground around your foundation settling? If so, you can build it back up and help direct runoff away from it by piling more soil against it. Or, incorporate a cool berm into your planting.

Does sod cutting and loosening soil around trees damage their roots?

Be careful around trees with sod cutters. Most trees have some roots near the ground’s surface because they rely on them for oxygen transport to their lower root systems. You can try carefully using a spade to remove grass near your tree. If your grass is already sparse by the tree, it may be safer to use a thicker layer of mulch where you’ll be planting near the tree.

When should I plant in the fall?

Check out our blog post on fall planting. If you are planting seeds, wait until later in the fall (October 15th or later) unless there is good soil moisture. Planting seeds mid-fall should be avoided because this creates the risk of seeds germinating and growing into small seedlings that have a lower chance of surviving through the winter. Seeding right before the first option is a great option because it prevents birds and rodents from eating the seeds.

I’m focusing on a pollinator lawn or pollinator friendly tree/shrubs for my project. Do I still need to include plants that bloom across all three growing seasons?

Having plants that bloom in each of the 3 growing seasons is more of a recommendation than a requirement for the project. Most trees and pollinator lawns bloom early in the spring, before a lot of other food sources for pollinators appear, so it’s ok to stick with that!

How do I find deer and rabbit-resistant plants?

Some native plants don’t tend to get nibbled as much, including native plants in the mint family and onion family (this includes wild bergamot, giant hyssop, and prairie onion). Plants that are rough, prickly, or hairy (such as black-eyed susan) also get gnawed on less. Ask your local native plant nursery for more recommendations.

Can I do multiple projects with my grant?

Yes, as long as you can show all projects in your before and after photos. You can only submit a maximum of 4 before and 4 after photos.

Can I combine another grant with my Lawns to Legumes grant to fund my project?

Yes. Please indicate on your receipts which portions of your project you are requesting Lawns to Legumes reimbursement.

Can I purchase signs to put in my pollinator garden?

No, but every grantee who completes their project receives a free sign when they are reimbursed.

How do I protect my plants from rabbits and deer?

We recommend wire or mesh nets and cages to prevent them from reaching your plants.

Do I have to buy materials from any specific nursery?

No, but plantings must be Minnesota native species, preferably sourced from 175 miles from one’s location, or closer (with exceptions mentioned here). We recommend seeking out your local native plant nursery, but if you don’t have one near you, many native plant retailers in Minnesota offer delivery. See our Native Plants Nurseries and Retailers List

Why aren't cultivars of native plants reimbursable?

This program is intended to create habitat for native pollinators. Native pollinators have evolved with native plants, which provide them the right nutrients and the right times of year, with flower colors that pollinators recognize. Hybrids and cultivars have not evolved with pollinators–they have been created by people to display traits that people prefer. It is unclear how much these changes have affected the benefit they provide to pollinators, so the safest and surest way to help pollinators is to put in the plants they know and recognize.

Can I add non-native plants to my project?

Yes! Feel free to add any plants you want; however, non-natives plants won’t be reimbursed (exceptions are mentioned here).

Can I start a project from seed?

Yes, Lawns to Legumes plantings can be started from seed. Please use a native seed provider who does not treat seeds with harmful insecticides like neonicotinoids. And note that native plants from seed may take 3–5 years to fully establish.

Where can I sign up for email updates on L2L?

If you are a current Lawns to Legumes grantee, you will receive biweekly program updates from Blue Thumb by email.

If you want to be informed of application windows for future Lawns to Legumes cohorts, you can sign up for email notifications from the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources.

If you’d like to receive general updates from Blue Thumb and Metro Blooms, you can sign up for the monthly Metro Blooms email newsletter.

Once a habitat is established at a residence, is it protected by law?

You should let your local government know of your new habitat. We ask all project participants to agree to maintain their plantings for at least three years to the extent possible. In the event that a resident sells their If you sell your residence, we ask that you communicate the intent of the landscape with the new resident and let us know you are moving so we can also share information about its importance and how to manage it with the new owner.

Where can I learn more about the Minnesota state bee, the rusty patched bumble bee?

The Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources has a RPBB fact sheet.