Wednesday, May 11, 2016


Looking forward to seeing you at our Open House!  

There is MAJOR construction, so use these directions to our studio 

Thursday May 12th from 4:30-7:30.  

211 St Anthony Pkwy #102
Minneapolis, MN 55418

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

2016 Spring Kickoff

It’s a party!

Thursday, May 12th • 4:30-7:30pm

You're invited to join us for our annual Spring Kickoff party. 

We've invited our friends at Hola Arepa to supply their awesome arepas for food, and we'll enjoy music by Doug Otto!  
You simply bring the company (friends always welcome). 

As a special thank you, the first 50 guests can choose a complimentary pot planted with fresh herbs to help kickoff your spring cooking season.
Piñata for the little ones at 6:30.
Please note that the St. Anthony bridge is closed, so plan to arrive via University Ave, not Marshall. ***Also, there is bridge construction happening*** You will need to navigate around the construction to find us on the West side of 211 St Anthony.  Look for our biota signs and trucks!  For more information call 612.781.4000 or email


biota - Landscape Design + Build
211 St. Anthony Parkway, Studio 102
Minneapolis, MN 55418
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Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Edible Flowers from your Garden

Spring has arrived and flowers are starting to pop up in the garden. Did you know that parts of your tulips are edible? You can also eat the apple blossoms from your tree and even your Pansies! Are you frustrated with the dandelions in your yard? Eat them! 

Before eating anything from your yard or your neighbor's yard, make sure you know it has not been treated with pesticides or other chemicals. As with any new food in your diet, don't overdo it until you know you don't have an allergic reaction.

For a truly edible landscape, you can grow more than just tomatoes and peppers. 

Weeds: To Spray Or Not To Spray?

Invasive weeds such as thistle, bellflower, mustard, creeping charlie, dandelions and quack grass are not just annoying but extremely difficult to get rid of once they take up residence in your garden beds.  Hand pulling some weeds like thistle and bellflower can exasperate the problem as they can multiply with physical extraction. The only sure-fire way to rid the noxious plants from taking over the garden is to understand their life cycle and develop an aggressive plan of action for control.  

So watcha gonna do?   Roll up your sleeves, or reach for that leaky spray jug? 

It’s our opinion that when quick, chemical solutions seem too easy or good to be true, it should give us pause.  Are we certain of the long term effects of such acute and linear ‘fixes’ to our ecology which is inter-connected and cyclical? 

Make no doubt about it-- chemical sprays such as Round-Up (Glyphosate) are very effective as the chemical migrates to and kills the root.  People have strong emotions regarding the use of Round Up (Glyphosate), and ongoing studies are discussing both short and long term effects of this widely used herbicide.

How has it become so widely used?  One reason is that it works.  The other is because so much money has been spent on promoting the sale of the product.  Ever notice that “Roundup” is undoubtedly a household name?   Instead of asking for weed killer, people ask for “Roundup”-- much like we refer to a “Kleenex” instead of a facial tissue.   

Roundup has only been around since the 1970’s.  Long term studies beyond one generation do not exist.  We hope for everyone’s sake there is not a similar trajectory; however, the widespread use of Glyphosate has an eerie similarity to the comparably aged 1970’s research in Nithiazine that precipitated the development of today’s neonicotinoids.  Neonicotinoids are the most widely used insecticides in the world.  When first introduced, neonicotinoids were thought to have low-toxicity to many insects, but recent research has suggested a potential toxicity to honey bees and other beneficial insects even with low levels of contact.  

Because the facts are still emerging, the biota team is committed to err on the side of caution and avoid its use.  We keep our clients' health, children, pets, and surrounding ecology as our top priority.  We want to take the time to educate our clients first and exhaust all physical and natural methods of weed control in lieu of simply running for the chemical jug. 

Give our garden maintenance team a call and we can help develop an aggressive plan of action specific to your yard.  

Happy Gardening!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

2015 Spring Kickoff + 10th Anniversary

It’s a party!

Thursday, May 7th • 5-8pm

You're invited to join us in celebrating biota's 10th Anniversary. We'll supply the taco truck, beer/wine and you bring the company (friends always welcome). As a special thank you, the first 50 guests can choose a complimentary pot planted with fresh herbs to help kickoff your Spring cooking season. Piñata for the little ones at 6:30.
Please note that the St. Anthony bridge is closed, so plan to arrive via University Ave, not Marshall. For more information call 612.781.4000 or email


biota Landscape Design + Build
211 St. Anthony Parkway, Studio 102
Minneapolis, MN 55418
View map

Monday, April 6, 2015

How can our landscape incorporate sustainable practices and also have a high design aesthetic?

You don’t have to sacrifice elegant and refined design in order to implement sustainable landscaping practices.

Since spring thaw is on everyone’s mind, let's focus on one area: Sustainable stormwater management practices.  Rain gardens remain a great option, collecting rainwater so it effectively soaks into the ground instead of running over hard surfaces and collecting contaminants that pollute nearby natural water sources and overburden our very old stormwater infrastructure, which can lead to flooding. Rain gardens allow 30 percent more water to soak into the ground than the same size patch of lawn—and even more when compared to hard surfaces like asphalt or concrete.

One complaint we've fielded is that many rain gardens tend to look similar— “wild, wispy, and hyper-naturalized,” as a recent client put it.  biota is helping clients create customized rain gardens, using appropriate plants that don't necessarily fit one type of aesthetic.   Other great options are rain barrels, green roofs (absorbing and retaining rain water), and innovative cisterns and permeable driveways and patios—great ways for conscientious homeowners to reduce the volume and rate of stormwater run-off.

Elegant, high design and sustainable practices are not mutually exclusive. biota invests in educating our team on global trends in both design and sustainable practices.

An Urban Minneapolis Backyard Paradise


When the owners of this south Minneapolis home began to redesign their small, rectangular yard, they didn’t let the size of the lot cloud their ambitions. One of the owners, a chef, wanted to plant organic vegetable beds and herb gardens whose yield could supplement the fresh local produce at her small restaurant. Since the couple also loves entertaining, their urban garden would need to allow space to host dozens of friends for an evening or weekend soiree. When they asked Minneapolis-based landscape design/build firm Biota to help, principals Steve Modrow and Jim Saybolt didn’t shy away from the couple’s robust wish list.
“We didn’t want to shove things in there,” Modrow recalls of the design challenges Biota had to overcome for the small space. “In this yard, the vegetable gardens would be front and center. And vegetable gardens aren’t pretty.” Biota tamed the unruly greenery by building rust-hued, weathering steel beds that finger out from either side of the backyard like piano keys. Neatly clipped grass grows between each bed to create order, open space, and easy access to harvest each garden’s bounty. The bed on the south side of the yard is elevated to soak up every bit of sun that streams over a neighbor’s tall fence. Beds on the north side remain at ground level, to avoid making the walkway between them feel narrower.
This expansive walkway connects the vegetable gardens to a deck along the back of the home. When guests spill out the back door, they can lounge on plush patio furniture near an open fire pit with a weathering steel (often known by the brand name Cor-Ten) screen that protects the nearby gardens from stray sparks. The walkway is wide enough to accommodate several café tables, for guests who prefer to sit amongst the yard’s lush greenery.

Biota created other cozy nooks throughout the yard to make sure no inch went unused. A gently curved cedar-wood screen conceals a cove for a double hammock. A neglected hot tub on the deck was replaced with a covered garden containing a bubbling fired-clay fountain and large, white river stones that the owner hand-selected as the surface for her daily yoga practice. To accommodate the owners’ enthusiasm for going barefoot, the Biota team carefully considered the texture of each surface in the yard. The walkway is paved with tumbled natural bluestone, and the surface beneath the hammock is covered in tiny pea gravel, which gives way, like sand, under the weight of each footstep.

When the owners recently decided to relocate to Texas and placed their meticulously designed property up for sale, the buyers instantly fell in love with the backyard paradise. They now refer to it as another room of the house. “We hardly unpacked the first summer we moved in,” says one of the new homeowners. It seems that long evenings spent relaxing in this urban escape will be a tradition for years to come.

Making the Most of a Small Space

Tips from Biota Landscape Design + Build

✔  Observe sun/light patterns throughout the day. Elements outside your control (shade from a neighbor’s tree
or house) can have a big impact on a small yard. Know what these influences are and plan around them.
✔  Design “rooms” within your small yard. You’ll enjoy using intimate retreats that allow for quiet reflection
and privacy.
✔  Focus on plants that are the right size for your space. Ensure you know how large a plant will be at maturity,
prune your perennials appropriately (consider hiring the experts once or twice a year), and don’t be afraid
to remove plants that aren’t thriving.
✔  Use quality materials. Everything will be up close in a small yard, so don’t skimp on the details.

Article Re-posted from Midwest Home's website.  
By Ellen Guettler   Photos by Alex Steinberg

Saturday, March 28, 2015

On March 25th

      I took the kayak out on Lake Nokomis. For two days, I'd been watching this small stubborn ice sheet that hadn't completely melted. I never really understood how an entire lake could have ice from shore to shore one day, then magically it disappears overnight. Rather than google it, I was alone and bobbing in the landscape- the only person silly enough to kayak this early.
      Last Fall's leftover leaf litter, branches and mud wafted their organic odor from the shore, finally free from the ice-pack. The mallards dabbled and scouted for nest locations, a hawk circled overhead and three seagulls picked the ice-fishermen's remnants from this last piece of ice pangea.
     I learned nothing that day of the ice-out process on a small MN lake.   Sorry.   But afterall, the trace scent of the awakening lake left on my windbreaker was welcomed and delicious. I hope you too enjoy the first smells of Spring, there's more to come.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Add A Touch of Spring to Your Doorstep

Tired of seeing brown? 

If you are impatient like me, you don't want to wait until late April or May to see flowers in the garden.  So why not bring some color to your containers early?

Summer annuals cannot be planted until all frost danger is past in mid-late May but there are many different creative ways to brighten up your containers until then.

Colorful branches, vines, ribbons along with cold hardy annuals, perennials and forced bulbs are excellent to combine together for a fun and cheerful look.  Welcome and celebrate spring by planting your containers early! 

Give us a call, we would love to design and install a bit of spring for you.  

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

2015 Minneapolis Home + Garden Show

biota at the Minneapolis Home + Garden Show 2015

We had a great time at the Minneapolis Home + Garden Show. Channel 9 news interviewed Jim on our show booth showing creative ways to incorporate sustainable practices into any architectural garden style. Click the link above the photo and watch the interview for more details!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Unwelcome Furry Friends

They hide in your firewood pile, under shrubs, and near cracks in your foundation. They also love a cozy spot under your patio or deck. Yes, we are talking about the not-so-nice mice.

With weather change, they look for entry into your home. Inspect the exterior for possible entry points and seal them right away. Prevention is the best approach! However, if mice have already found a way into your home there are environmentally friendly ways to show them the door. Check out this product.

Protect Your Yard in Winter

A few simple tips for winter will help reduce stress on your yard next spring. Heavy snow can break and damage tree branches and shrubs. Use a broom in an upward motion to gently remove heavy snow.

Avoid the urge to shake off the snow by knocking the branches. This may cause more harm, even breaking the branch. For planting beds, shovel some snow onto them and spread it evenly as a sort of "free" mulch. Just make sure to avoid snow that might contain harmful ice-melt products.

Enjoy the Outdoors From Your Window

Bird watching from inside the comforts of your home, known as backyard birding, is a great way to maintain a year-round connection to your yard. Birds' natural color variations really look marvelous with the white of the snow as the background. If you already have a bird feeder in your yard, try adding black oil sunflower seeds to your mix. These seeds provide rich sources of fat and calories, what birds really need in the cold.

While some birds might not find interest in what you are feeding, all birds gravitate to water sources. A winter-friendly birdbath, with a built-in water heater, is a strong attractant to area birds. Interested in more ways to gain year-round from your yard? Contact us today.

Bring Cheer Outside

The official first day of winter is not here, but the snow on the ground is certainly here to stay. Do not be discouraged if your yard appears plain. Actually, winter is an excellent time to assess your landscape design. Take a look around, and note what areas might seem too bare or lack focus. It's never too early to start making plans for next spring.

What about the next few months? It is still possible to add some color and life to your landscape. Winter-themed containers provide a strong focus on entry points and walk ways. We are available to create these cheery beacons. Contact us for details.