Tag Archives: grass

Cianfrani Park Gardens

Many of you have commented on the dramatic improvement to the grass in Cianfrani Park. This is due in large part to a continuing experiment to see what might happen if we kept one third of the park on the east end roped off as a “people zone” that would be clean and safe for the children who use the east end extensively.

We would also like boast about out the improvements of our park’s volunteer gardeners.

We would like to thank Chris Desilvis and Karen McCormick for all of their efforts in the planters throughout the park. The bulletin board tells about some of the additions they have made this year. We also thank Dennis McGlade who year after year beautifies the front planter that presents our park to the city. Elaine Ulmer, who is the stalwart motivator that keeps our park moving forward, will soon have some news about the statue project for the triangle garden, which she has been working toward for the last two years.

The Friends of Cianfrani Park are very fortunate to have such dedicated volunteers.

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A Short History of Grass in Cianfrani Park and Why We Put Up the Caution Tape

CianfraniLawn

A message from the Friends of Cianfrani Park:

As Cianfrani Park becomes more popular the open areas have become worn and ragged.

Last summer turf specialists at Philadelphia Parks and Recreation (PP&R) explained to us that the dominant grass here was a form of fast growing quack grass, a sign that the park is under stress. You may have noticed that the spotty “grass” would be knee high within days of a mowing, causing the park to look unkempt most of the time.

The Friends of Cianfrani Park asked PP&R for help. They responded by spraying the park to kill the weeds (not a success), and by aerating the grassy areas and re seeding (Yes!). The aeration pulls plugs of dirt out to allow air and moisture in, letting the lawn breathe. It also benefits adjacent trees.

We experimented to see if protecting the aerated grass from foot traffic during the wet winter season would have any effect. The caution tape “fence” was respected by most. Today you can see the remarkable difference between the East and West sides of the park. It got us thinking that if nice grass was a possibility, wouldn’t it be great to have a “clean zone” that people (especially the smallest ones) could enjoy for picnics and play.

The second part of our experiment will be to post signs asking pet owners not to use the designated areas for toileting purposes. That is not to say that leashed pets are not welcome, just requesting they do not use these areas as a bathroom.

We have been talking informally to people at park clean ups, and the response to the clean zone idea is very positive. Some have been inspired to pull up the invasive weeds by hand to avoid using chemical herbicide. Others expressed interest showing movies in the park this summer if there was a clean and pleasant place for people to enjoy them. Several neighbors with lawn expertise have offered to donate services.

There is no intention to abandon other areas of the park. The Friends are eager to reach out to every park user to help develop a plan for rehabilitating all the grassy areas.

A small park like Cianfrani with many, many users will always be challenged to keep grass healthy and lush. Success depends on the good will and cooperation of all who use the park daily.

If there is interest, we will add the “Clean Zone” concept to the agenda for the June 3rd monthly meeting. Our partners at Philadelphia Parks and Recreation, The Fairmount Parks Conservancy, and Councilman Mark Squilla’s office will also be invited.

 

Monthly meetings are held a t Palumbo Recreation Center at 7pm, unless otherwise noted via cianfranipark@gmail.com. The next meeting of the Friends of Cianfrani Park will be held June 3rd. 

Important Notice: Spraying in the Park

Over the last several years, many of us have been fretting about the condition of the lawn at Cianfrani Park. It seems like it either has large spots of brown or the grass is so high it is up to your knees. Last year we were very proud to accept the first prize in the Pennsylvania Horticulture Society’s City Garden Contest. The gardens are a result of very hard work on the part of our dedicated volunteer neighbors. However, the grass has been continued to be problematic.

Last summer, after our continued complaints to the city about the mowing situation, we were paid a surprise visit by a landscape technician from the newly consolidated Department of Parks and Recreation. With the consolidation of Fairmount Park and the Philadelphia Department of Recreation, we have benefitted by receiving some new services, including people who care about having parks with nice lawns. After taking a sample and sending it for analysis, it seems that he discovered the cause of our lawn problems. We have a very difficult weed called Goose Grass which has overtaken the good grass and seems to grow at a rate of up to an inch a day. The city’s biweekly mowing schedule is not going to handle that kind of growth.

To remedy this situation the city is going to come in to spray the lawn to eliminate the Goose Grass before it has a chance to start growing this year. The spray is not a poison, but a “pre emergent treatment” that prevents weed seeds from sprouting and multiplying. It will not kill anything that is already growing. Following the spraying we will be roping off all of the lawns for a week or so and strongly suggest that you keep children and dogs off of the lawns. The protection for a week is only to allow the treatment to work efficiently and undisturbed. We have been told it should not be harmful to pets or people. Signs will be posted.

The second stage of this recovery process will occur in the fall which is the best time to plant new grass. We hope to have a contractor come in at that time to aerate the entire lawn to loosen the compacted dirt so that new seed may go in. It will take the winter for it to establish roots and hopefully next summer we will have the beautiful lawn we have always wanted.

We ask for your patience as we go through this process. We hope you will be happy with the results.

-Friends of Cianfrani Park