Location: Chanhassen, Minnesota | Client: Minnesota Landscape Arboretum | Design Team: Water In Motion, Inc. | Features: Drip Irrigation, Plant Specific Irrigation


One of Minnesota’s top attractions, the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum is home to over 1,200 acres of stunning gardens, diverse plant and tree collections, and endless miles of trails, woods, and prairies. However, this highly valued community resource comes with a price; water. In 2009, Water in Motion, Inc. had the pleasure of redesigning the irrigation within the Nelson Shrub Rose Garden. With our company’s help, this beautiful garden now operates under a highly water efficient irrigation system where the roses can fully thrive.


Gardening 101 taught us plants require three main ingredients; healthy soil, sunny skies, and just the right amount of water. However, it is not that easy because all plant and flower species grow differently. Before Water in Motion stepped in, the Nelson Shrub Rose Garden did not have a plant specific irrigation system. Instead, large sprinklers were set up to water both the grass and the shrub roses, causing the roses to suffer. Unlike other flowers, roses are sensitive to water, especially when it touches the leaves. The rose garden needed a drip irrigation design to deliver just the right amount of water directly to the roots, keeping the leaves dry.

Drip Irrigation

Drip irrigation is a type of micro-irrigation that saves water by allowing water to drip slowly to the roots of plants, either from above the soil surface or buried below the surface. Drip irrigation lines are typically covered by dirt or mulch so they are not visible. You can see the exposed lines prior to being buried in the photos above. Drip irrigation places water directly into the root zone and minimizes evaporation. These systems distribute water through a network of valvespipestubing, and emitters. Depending on how well designed, installed, maintained and operated it is, a drip irrigation system can be 90-95% efficient in delivering water, nearly twice as efficient as spray or sprinkler irrigation.


The team at Water in Motion recognized the garden’s irrigation system needed an upgrade and redesigned a new plant-specific system where the roses are currently being watered efficiently and properly. All 549 shrub roses are now drip-irrigated by individual micro-sprinklers below the mulch. Additionally, a rain sensor and SMART controller manage the watering schedule.


  • Healthier rose shrubs because leaves stay dry
  • 50% less water being used
  • Huge savings in expenses and staff time
  • Improved visitor experience