Greenway Grow!

Cypress tree forest and pollinator meadows are coming to the Lafitte Greenway! City and community partners are excited to announce “Lafitte Greenway GROW!,” a multi-year restoration project to plant 1,000 Cypress trees in the Greenway’s bioswales and pollinator flower meadows.

Grow!  Campaign

Help plant the next 900 trees of the Greenway's 1,000 Cypress Forest, and support wildflower meadow establishment by contributing to the GROW! Campaign.

 

Partners & Supporters

GROW! is a landscape restoration project and fundraising campaign led collaboratively by Friends of Lafitte Greenway (Friends), NORD, Parks and Parkways, Sustaining Our Urban Landscape (SOUL), SPROUT NOLA, and Spackman Mossop Michaels. This project is made possible with support from Coypu Foundation Trust established by John S. McIlhenny, One Tree Planted, Spackman Mossop Michaels, and GROW campaign contributors.

 

Purpose

In order to ensure that the Greenway’s landscape is sustainable, safe, and beautiful over the long-term, and herbicide use is limited, the partners are undertaking this landscape restoration project. Award-winning landscape architecture firm, Spackman Mossop Michaels, designed this adaptive planting and management plan for the Greenway’s bioswales and meadows that will restore and expand our urban tree canopy, restore native plantings, support pollinators, and naturally prevent the overgrowth that has inhibited the bioswales’ functionality and has been a community visibility and safety concern.

 

Project Status

Site preparation began this week to remove overgrowth and invasive species in anticipation of the initial Cypress trees and flower meadow plantings this April. Next week, SPROUT NOLA will begin tarping and preparing the site for meadow planting. The first 100 Cypress trees of the 1,000 Cypress forest will be planted in honor of Earth Day this April. Friends and SOUL are recruiting volunteers for this tree planting. Sign up to volunteer at www.lafittegreenway.org/events.

Photo by Patrick Niddrie

Cypress Forest Planting

The 1,000 Cypress Forest will be planted in the Lafitte Greenway’s bioswales. The land that is now the Greenway was once a Cypress swamp. This project will re-establish the native tree canopy.

The Cypress will be closely planted 10 feet-apart, following Spackman Mossop Michael’s design for natural management. As the trees grow, their dropped Cypress nettles will self-mulch, reducing understory plant growth and invasive species establishment, while providing habitat for birds and wildlife.

The tree planting project will be led by SOUL, working with community and corporate volunteers.

Benefits

  • Expand New Orleans urban tree canopy and reforest the city in alignment with the City’s Master Plan and resilient strategies.
  • Reduce overgrowth and re-establish clear sightlines in response to community demand.
  • Increase stormwater infrastructure. A single Bald Cypress can absorb 880 gallons of water in a single day.
  • Increase shaded areas for walking, biking, rest, and recreation and cool the city and surrounding air temperatures
  • Reduce herbicide use and long-term maintenance using natural mulching and shading techniques.
  • Provide habitats for birds and insects.
  • Beautify the Greenway.

Pollinator meadow planting

Beginning this April, SPROUT NOLA will plant lowland flower meadows along the Lafitte Greenway Great Lawn between N. Galvez Street and N. Claiborne Avenue. These lowland meadows will beautify the Greenway, support pollinators and wildlife habitat, and provide an opportunity to engage and educate farmers and the larger community.

This project has an exciting workforce development and training component for local farmers and growers in alignment with SPROUT NOLA’s mission. SPROUT will use this Greenway’s meadows as a training grounds for local farmers and growers in the value of planting pollinator strips, sustainable land management strategies, and in the use of walk-behind tractors.

The meadow planting project is possible thanks to support from the Coypu Foundation Trust established by John S. McIlhenny.

Benefits

  • Provide food and habitat for essential pollinators such as bees and butterflies.
  • Beautify the Greenway Great Lawn.
  • Engage urban farmers and community members in educational programming on sustainable agricultural practices and workforce development training.
  • Reduce herbicide use.
  • Lowers maintenance costs. Native meadows only need to be cut or mown once a year. This not only saves time and mowing costs, but also reduces emissions, gas, and energy to operate lawn mowers, weed whackers, and other lawn equipment. 
  • Once established, the native meadow does not need supplemental irrigation. In fact, irrigation may favor the growth of weed species. Because it is planted with native plants it is able to withstand drought. 
  • Native plants have deeper root systems than traditional lawns and are better able to store carbon in the soil.

The Need for Environmental Restoration

The Lafitte Greenway is the first large-scale public project in the City of New Orleans to include significant Greenway infrastructure; the establishment and maintenance has been a learning process for the City in green infrastructure establishment, operations, and maintenance. 

When the Greenway opened in 2015, the original planting plan and maintenance plan was never realized. The plants that established in the bioswales largely “volunteered,” including a number of problematic invasive species and significant overgrowth that have inhibited the bioswales function for stormwater management. Additionally, community leaders including the Lafitte Greenway Ambassadors, bringing diverse community voices to the Greenway’s work, identified bioswale overgrowth and as a significant safety concern of community members in the Greenway’s Treme/Lafitte neighborhoods.

Pictured: 2019 Greenway Ambassadors who identified bioswale overgrowth as a key community priority to address.

 

In order to ensure that the Greenway’s landscape is sustainable, safe, and beautiful over the long-term, to limit herbicide use, reduce long-term maintenance costs, and respond to community demand, City and environmental partners are undertaking this landscape restoration project. Once this project is complete, the Greenway's non-turf landscape will be managed using a maintenance manual and plan currently being developed by City agencies for use citywide, as this and several other green infrastructure projects come online in the coming years. 

 

Pictured: Parks and Parkways preparing site

Site Preparation is in Progress

The bioswale section between N. Dorgenois St. and N. Galvez St. has been cut back by the City of New Orleans personnel and contractors in order to prepare the site for the first 100 Cypress tree plantings this April. The Department of Parks & Parkways identified the trees to remove and retain in the bioswales to prepare the site. Many invasives and volunteer weed trees with poor growth patterns and weak root systems have been removed to prepare the site.

Bioswales between N. Galvez St. and N. Claiborne have been cut-back, and will continue bi-annual cuttings to reduce woody overgrowth.

In preparation for meadow plantings, the planned meadow area will be covered in tarps to kill weeds and grass underneath. Then, SPROUT will conduct a controlled burn to put nitrogen and nutrients back into the soil. After, the area will be seeded with fast growing flowers to outgrow weeds and unwanted plants. Flowers will begin to bloom during the summer. SPROUT will plant cover crops.

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