23rd Street Lawn Re-Opens for the Season

Spring really is here: the 23rd Street Lawn is open. Photo by Navid Baraty.

Get ready for some serious people-watching. The 23rd Street Lawn has officially re-opened for the busy season ahead. Pack a picnic, slide on your darkest shades (better for people-watching), and head out to the High Line to enjoy the park’s one and only lawn.

Like last year, the 23rd Street Lawn will be open Wednesdays through Sundays. The grass needs to recover after entertaining guests all weekend—an average of eighty-thousand during the summer months—which makes it necessary for us to close the Lawn on Mondays and Tuesdays*. This is just one of the many challenges of maintaining such a popular green space. “It’s really hard to keep it looking good and green with so much traffic throughout the summer,” says High Line Gardener Maeve Turner. Using organic products, she’s developed a program that’s kept the Lawn healthy since its grand opening in 2011.

Maeve and the other members of our horticulture staff work year-round to maintain this area. Once the Lawn is closed in the fall, our gardeners need to offset the effects of so many feet on the ground. After aerating the soil and re-seeding, Maeve and the team apply a compost tea they brew themselves. “It is a cold-brew process of pulling the good microorganisms out of compost into a liquid solution to be applied over the lawn,” explains Thomas Smarr, Director of Horticulture at Friends of the High Line. “These microorganisms help maintain a healthy soil ecology that promotes root growth and stronger plants,” he adds. Once spring arrives, the gardeners spot-seed and apply an organic fertilizer.

Each year, the outpouring of joy upon Lawn’s re-opening reminds us that our efforts are well worth it. “This morning I opened [the Lawn], and before I was even finished removing signs and rope people were sitting on it and enjoying it,” says Maeve. “That's a nice feeling, seeing people enjoy the fruits of my labor.”

* In addition to Mondays and Tuesdays, we may need to close the space following periods of heavy rain or foot traffic. Check our Twitter for announcements of unscheduled closings.

Gardener Kevin Williams uses a quiet, gasoline-free electric mower on the Lawn. Maeve is a huge fan of this battery-powered mower, and admits that it’s one of her favorite things about the Lawn.

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