Sustainable Lawns for Urban Parks

One morning in late August, Toby Wolf took a walk around Boston Common with plant and soil scientist Normand Helie. With Boston undergoing extreme drought and the Common’s lawns a patchwork of brown and green, they discussed the ways that grass adapts to changes in its environment and some ways that responsive maintenance can support rather than override those adaptations.

Toby's walk with Norm resulted in a short article that outlines six sustainable practices that can help urban lawns adapt to drought. Many thanks to Norm for his insights, and to the Friends of the Public Garden for publishing the article in their newsletter and their blog.

Continuity and Innovation at the Public Garden

Phase 3

Work is complete on the third phase of the renovation of the Boylston Street Border in Boston's Public Garden. Three quarters of the border's 900-foot length now benefits from improved drainage, reinvigorated plantings, and inviting places to sit.

The project's phased implementation has allowed our team to improve each year on the work that came before. This year we fine-tuned the planting palette, adjusted the soil mix, revised the transplant specifications, improved the way benches are installed, and eased curb installation by providing the granite quarry with full-size templates. These changes helped achieve an improved outcome at no additional cost.

Construction of Phase 4 will begin in September 2016. To see project updates, to become a member, or to learn how to sponsor a bench or a tree, please visit the Friends of the Public Garden online.

Greening the Garden


The second phase of our renovation of the Boylston Street Border in Boston's Public Garden is nearly complete. Working with landscape architect Deb Howe, arborist Norm Helie, and civil engineer John Cusack, we have moved and planted trees and shrubs, improved drainage, and made space for two more benches.  In the weeks ahead we'll add more perennials and bulbs, and the last tree will be planted early next spring.  

The multi-year rejuvenation of the entire 900 foot length of the the Border is a project of the Friends of the Public Garden, who have posted a project update here. The Friends work in partnership with Boston's Parks Department to care for the Garden, the Common, and the Commonwealth Avenue Mall, and membership is open to all.