Lawn Care in the Parks: Grass Roots Advocacy

Overview

The lawns of the Boston Common, Public Garden, and Commonwealth Avenue Mall provide, in the best of times, a green carpet that invites the public to enter and enjoy all that the parks have to offer. But life in the densely populated city can be tough for a blade of grass.

Excessive shade from surrounding buildings keeps soil temperature too low for optimum plant germination and photosynthesis. Special events with hundreds of thousands of visitors on the Common over the long history of this park’s life have contributed to its depleted, compacted soils. Compacted soils do not let in the water, air, and nutrients needed for healthy grass as well as tree growth.

The Friends works closely with the City of Boston Parks Department to keep the grass as healthy and green as possible for the enjoyment and appreciation of the tens of thousands of visitors a day who pass through the gates of our three historic parks.

Background

There are a variety of types of turf areas in the three parks, from open lawns such as the Common’s Liberty Mall and the Garden’s formal lawns, to the intensively used Parade Ground acreage on the Common, to the heavily shaded grass panels along the Mall. Our turf care is scientifically based and follows best practices. We spend an average of $250,000 annually on turf and soils care.

Sustainable Management

Turf grass species generally turn brown during periods of stress and drought. To keep our lawns green, we optimize growing conditions. We manage all the irrigation systems in the three parks to provide the right amount of water for each microclimate and horticultural condition. We monitor soil temperature and nutrient balance closely to optimize our periodic seeding, aeration, and liming programs. We fertilize using organic methods, and we monitor the turf for excessive weeds, insects, and thatch build-up. We use the principles of Integrated Pest Management to minimize turf problems, and we invest in significant turf renovation projects when needed. Partnering with the City of Boston, we monitor the mowing conducted by the Parks Department.