It's a Wrap! Gardeners & Volunteers Complete Spring Cutback

Following weeks of hard work by our dedicated High Line gardeners and volunteers, we're excited to share that our 2017 Spring Cutback season is now complete!

See our Spring Cutback progress...

In keeping with planting designer Piet Oudolf's vision, High Line plants are not trimmed back at the onset of cold weather as they are in most gardens. Instead, when spring arrives more than 100 High Line gardeners and volunteers work to clear out dried grasses and perennials to make room for new spring growth.

• 18 shifts
• 33 hours
• 130 yard bags of plant debris
• 62 beds
• 100+ individual volunteers
• 381.5 volunteer hours

Our 2017 Spring Cutback was originally scheduled to take place from March 6 to March 29, with a goal of hosting five shifts each week for four weeks. But Mother Nature had other plans, and a series of rain delays coupled with the March snowstorm pushed cutback into April. When soil is wet, it becomes easily compacted, which removes the pore space from soil. In turn, plant health suffers and our work gets even more delicate as more bulbs appear and grasses green up. Fortunately, we were still able to finish Spring Cutback within four non-consecutive weeks.

Learn more about how weather affects Spring Cutback in Gardening in the Sky: Cutting Back on Winter.

This also marks the second year that the gardeners took on the ambitious additional challenge of storing, chipping, and composting all of the plant debris on site to recycle that organic material back into our High Line ecosystem. Recycling plant debris into our plant beds as mulch, compost, and compost tea enables last year's growth to foster the health of our gardens this year. This process will mimic the natural decomposition of plant life—and subsequent nutrient uptake by new plants—that would take place in a wild landscape.

We were also fortunate to have members of Green Council—a paid education and job-training program that offers local teens hands-on experience in horticulture, community gardening, and green jobs—collaborate with Horticulture and Youth Programs staff to learn best practices for Spring Cutback on the park. Learn more about Green Council's experience.

Congratulations to our incredible team of gardeners, and thanks to all our volunteers—including groups from REI and TD Bank—for their hard work and dedication during Spring Cutback.

All photos by Rowa Lee.


TD Bank is the Presenting Green Sponsor of the High Line.

REI is a Supporting Sponsor of the High Line Volunteer Program.

The Volunteer Program is also supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Council, under the leadership of Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.

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