The Township has been fielding questions about the planting of meadow grasses and wildflowers on the Blue Route plateau. We would like to share following summary to update all on the planting project.
Members of the Shade Tree Commission, local Landscape Architect Jonathan Alderson, and Brian O’Neil, president of Weeds Inc., put forth a planting plan for the plateau. Understanding that the plateau is owned by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), the plan would have to be approved by PennDOT. During the review process, PennDOT made it clear that they did not wish to have trees replanted on the property and had specific requirements for planting of the slopes. The final plan approved by PennDOT, and ultimately the Board of Commissioners, consisted of the following: removing the weeds that were on the site, spreading out the woodchip piles, seeding with meadow grass and wildflower mix, and seeding the banks along Lancaster Avenue with PennDOT Type L seed mix. This plan was approved, and the work was performed, pro bono by Weeds, Inc.
At Township Manager Bill White’s direction, a meeting was scheduled with Weeds, Inc. (the firm that performed the work pro bono) to review the site and obtain information regarding the status of the project. The Manager and staff met with Brian O’Neil, president of Weeds, Inc. on August 9th, 2021, at the site. The site visit included walking the plateau and slopes. The following information puts forth where the project is currently as well as moving forward:
- The PennDOT required Type L seed mix has grown in well.
- The taller brownish grass on the slopes is an annual rye, that is part of the Type L seed mix. This germinates more quickly than the Type L grass and stabilizes the area. This will die off leaving the six-inch tall, green type L grass solely. The rye will die off this winter, and in the spring we should see only the type L mix.
- Also on the slopes, not seeded but in place is Primrose, native to the area with smaller yellow flowers.
- Although not very visible from street level, there is considerable growth in this area
- The tall plants along the upper banks, well established, are Mare’s Tail
- Mare’s Tail, although not seeded, is native to the area. This growth has very quickly stabilized the upper slopes, and it is recommended we allow this growth to continue unfettered.
- Also pointed out were wildflowers in the form of Black Eyed Susans. There is considerable growth of this species on the upper portion of the site, in various pockets
- Mr. O’Neil also pointed out several species of grasses that were seeded and growing, from six inches high to two feet high.
- Next year, many of these grasses will be three feet in height
- The meadow grass seed mix will be applied as a frost seeding again this winter
- Over twenty species of wildflower were noted, albeit in smaller form at this time (not including the Black Eyed Susans which are +/- 18” high).
- The wildflower seed mix will be applied as a frost seeding again this winter
- The areas that are more noticeably lacking plant growth are the locations where the wood chips were spread
- These areas range in depth from 6” - 2’.
- The areas where the wood chips are thinner show the growth noted above
- The areas where the wood chips are thicker contain seed, but they have not yet sprouted
- It was recommended that the areas of thicker wood chips be left in place, as they have seed in them that has yet to germinate
- It was estimated that 60% of the area had growth on it, and that each year for the next two years, roughly 20% more will be covered.
- The smaller plants will be growing taller each year
- The next frost seeding will provide for more growth
- The wood chips will take time to breakdown, and allow for more plant growth.
In summary, various species of grasses and wildflowers are in different stages of growth on the plateau. Due to the wood chips (not recommended to be removed), it will take 2-3 years before the site is fully covered in the various species that were planted, at there full height. Mr. O’Neil noted that at this time, patience is needed.