Turf grass removed to make way for native garden

Turf removed in front of Civic Center, ready for planting

City crews have prepared for installation of a demonstration garden in front of the Civic Center near the corner of Ridge and Leonard Place. A layered selection of native trees, shrubs, grasses, and flowers has been designed to support birds, butterflies, and other pollinators.

The forestry department began preparations by removing an unhealthy silver maple and locust tree from the area. Last week, a greenways crew used a turf-cutter to remove grass, avoiding the use of any toxic chemicals, and rooted out a clump of non-native burning bush (Euonymus alatus). Burning bush has become invasive in New England woodlands and is becoming invasive in Illinois as well.  The crew left a clump of forsythia shrubs, although they also are non-native, because they do provide some cover for birds and are not invasive.

The forestry division planted a bur oak last month to commemorate Arbor Day, and the young tree now occupies a central place in the future garden. As plant orders arrive and weather permits, city crews and volunteers will plant dozens of other shrubs, grasses, and flowers. We will make the complete plant list available when planting is complete.

— Wendy Pollock