Turfgrass experts lead volunteers in spring cleanup of Toronto park
By Mike Jiggens
Toronto's St. James Park, extensively damaged last fall from the
downtown Occupy Toronto protest and renovated in December by an army of
volunteers, was given a spring cleanup and added boost in April to
coincide with Earth Day activities.
On the morning of April 21, the day prior to Earth Day, volunteers returned to the site to give the newly-sodded turf a necessary spring nutrient boost with fertilizer, a core aeration treatment to decompact the soil, and overseeding of shaded areas.
Industry professionals who volunteered their services invited community residents and anyone else willing to help to pitch in with leaf rakes to contribute towards the park’s spring cleanup and to learn about proper turf maintenance practices.
Each group of volunteers worked with a turf expert, learning not only the importance of maintaining healthy turf, but also how to repair the damage. Since the original revitalization efforts conducted in December, most of the damage to the park since then has been attributed to dogs.
During the December turf and park revitalization effort, volunteers and suppliers from the green professional trades built strong ties with neighbourhood residents. The bond has strengthened the volunteers’ commitment to keep St. James Park green, healthy and beautiful. The cleanup morning gave volunteers and residents an opportunity to renew friendships.
As an added benefit, the industry professionals gave a live demonstration of how simple maintenance efforts can enhance lawns and ensure they maintain their important contribution to the environment.
Key organizations behind the December revitalization project included the Landscape Ontario Horticultural Trades Association, the Nursery Sod Growers Association and Project EverGreen. More than 150 green industry professionals have volunteered their services and donated new sod, soil, mulch and labour, valued at more than $150,000, to restore, improve and revitalize St. James Park.
According to Landscape Ontario, a lush, green lawn is more than just pleasing to the eye. The organization states:
• That 220 square feet of turfgrass produces enough oxygen for a family of four, meaning that restoring the turfgrass at St. James Park will produce enough clean air for 545 families.
• North American lawns store billions of tonnes of carbon, making turfgrass a leading contributor to offset carbon and reduce global warming.
• The average front lawn has the cooling effect of 8.5 tonnes of air conditioning. Lawns will be 18 degrees Celsius (30 degrees Fahrenheit) cooler than asphalt and seven degrees C (14 degrees F) cooler than bare soil in the heat of summer.
• Turf improves water quality by storing and filtering the water that would otherwise go into catch basins and into the lake.
• A 10,000-square-foot lawn will contain six grass plants per square inch or 850 plants per square foot and 8.5 million plants in total. The lawn can be thought of as a forest of grass plants.