Winter-Proofing the High Line

kaspar watering hole High Line gardener Kaspar Wittlinger watering the grasses just south of the Standard Hotel.
Photo by Auzelle Epeneter.

Despite the mild weather so far this season, winter is on its way. Most of the above-ground vegetation on the High Line will lie dormant in the freezing weather, but in order to ensure that plants survive into the spring, measures must be taken to protect the roots still living beneath the surface.

After the first freeze, the water will be turned off on the High Line in order to protect the pipes.  The soil, too, will harden and no longer absorb moisture.  So while the delicate, dried stalks and leaves don't require watering now, the gardeners continue to irrigate their roots to provide protection.

The gusts that blow off the Hudson River, just blocks from the High Line, will also pose a challenge to the plants this winter.  "People don't realize that wind is dry," gardener Kaspar Wittlinger tells me, "It sucks moisture out of the soil."  He says woody plants in particular are susceptible to damage – the bark can crack open, similar to the way unprotected skin reacts to icy winds.

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