Our team was proud to work with the Brooklyn Greenway Initiative to convert two stretches of urban landscape, nearly a half mile, into thriving native plant habitats as part of a large-scale community revitalization initiative. This fantastic urban renewal project, which is halfway complete, will ultimately create a lush, landscaped 14-mile corridor for walkers, runners, and cyclists that connects neighborhood parks and creates open access to Brooklyn’s waterfront from the East River to New York Harbor.
In the first stage of the Brooklyn Greenway project, we conducted an intensive survey of surrounding vacant lots to determine which native plants are already thriving in the area. We then put together a seed mixture incorporating those plants for the new habitats.
This type of environment is tough for plants—the areas are next to paved roadways, and existing soil was lean on organic nutrients. In addition, salt water exposure is a potential problem adjacent to walks and roads that are salted during the winter. Given these conditions, we added nutrient-rich compost to the soil and chose native plants that are both fast-growing and hardy so that plants would take root quickly and compete successfully against aggressive alien species. Among the shrubs planted are bayberry, beach plum, red chokeberry, and fragrant sumac. A diverse native seed mixture was sown, which includes golden aster, wild indigo, milkweed, butterfly weed, clover, primrose, and mountain mint. A selection of indigenous grasses including bluestem, lovegrass, and Indian grass are also used on the site.
We began the Brooklyn Greenway project in 2014 and the rewards reaped are beyond expectation. The two sites are now thick with native plant growth and a half-mile of high-value pollinator habitat has been created. These areas are now beautiful, sustainable, and supportive of a healthy natural environment. It’s worth note that these green sites were created for under $10,000 per acre. Lastly, local volunteers are maintaining the landscapes through a corporate sponsorship. We are grateful to have received tremendous positive feedback about this richly diverse new green space.