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High Line Volunteers Begin Trimming 100,000 Plants

By Mathew Katz | March 5, 2012 1:16pm

CHELSEA — It's time for the High Line to cut back.

No, it isn't getting frugal — it's about to start its annual spring cutting, when gardeners and local teens trim about 100,000 plants on the elevated park.

Unlike most parks and gardens around the city, the High Line's plants aren't trimmed at the start of the winter. Instead, they're allowed to dry up and become decorative additions to the park throughout the cold weather. In the spring, volunteers cut back the plants by hand to make way for the new growing season.

This year's spring undertaking will be the park's biggest yet. Since the park's second section opened last year, it now has roughly one mile of trees, shrubs, bushes and grasses to tend. Because of the mild winter, park staff have seen some plants already begin to bloom, but that hasn't changed their cut-back plans.

Friends of the High Line, which helps maintain the park, has recruited more than 300 volunteers to tend to the plants, including students from the nearby NYC Lab School for Collaborative Studies at 333 W. 17th St.

The project itself will begin with a plant-cutting ceremony on Tuesday at 10 a.m. at the park's 14th Street entrance, and the entire process is expected to last about six weeks.

Last year, the project took about 1,200 hours to complete. This year's undertaking will likely result in about 150 cubic yards of plant clipping waste, according to the Friends of the High Line, all of which will be sent to a local composting facility.