Preparing for Spring Growth

The Chelsea Grasslands this fall. Photo by Bjoern Amherd.

Now that spring is approaching, our gardeners are beginning the cutback process, which will provide space for new growth during the warmer months. In a traditional garden, plants are cut back when their stalks begin to dry during autumn. In keeping with planting designer Piet Oudolf's belief that a plant's dried seed heads are just as beautiful and important as its flowers, the High Line's vegetation was left in its natural state.

Prior to the recent snowstorm, our gardeners began cutting back the cool season grasses, which grow earlier in the year than the High Line's other grasses. In the picture below, High Line gardener Maeve Turner demonstrates a STIHL brushcutter in an area just north of Section 1 (waterproofing of Section 2 in the background).

Cutting back grasses to make room for spring growth.

The gardeners will use brushcutters on thicker-stemmed plants, and smaller tools like scissors, pruners, and shears on most other plant. Trimming by hand allows for cleaner cuts and less mess, which is important in a small space like the High Line.

Cutback of the cool season grasses will resume once the snow melts. The remaining grasses will be cutback in March, when the weather grows warmer and more spring blooms begin to appear.

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