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Volunteers Cut Back High Line Plants

By Mathew Katz | March 6, 2012 12:20pm
Volunteers trim back plants on the High Line.
Volunteers trim back plants on the High Line.
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DNAinfo/Mathew Katz

CHELSEA — Dozens of volunteers of all ages descended on the High Line to cull the elevated park of roughly 100,000 dead plants in anticipation of the new growing season.

The park's annual cutback began on Tuesday, with the goal of cutting out the dead plants from the High Line to make room for a new batch of greenery that will blossom over the park's popular spring and summer season.

"It's a great way to contribute to the community," said 16-year-old Rasheed Dixon, a student volunteer from the nearby NYC Lab School, and frequent visitor to the park, while clipping a particularly long piece of dead grass.

The park doubled in size last year with the addition of the second phase of the High Line, which now stretches about a mile from Gansevoort Street to West 34th Street, giving volunteers even more terrain to cover.

"This is my favorite event of the year," said Friends of the High Line co-founder Robert Hammond. "It's a symbolic and practical moment that prepares the park for millions of new visitors."

Hammond said the organization, which maintains the park, expects about 4 million visitors this year.

The High Line's gardens have a unique design — plants grow out of remnants of the train tracks from the railroad the park is built from. Grass, trees and bushes grow out of a stone mulch, like the gravel that originally sat under the tracks.

"We can't use power equipment," said Melissa Fisher, the park's chief operating officer. "So all of this needs to be done by hand."

The park has so far recruited about 300 volunteers to work with staff on the project, which they expect to take about six weeks.

Friends of the High Line said that will produce about 150 cubic yards of dead plants that will be hauled off of the park (by tricycle) and then taken by truck to a compost facility.

Vino Handiman, another student from the NYC Lab School, said the extra work wouldn't be a problem for him.

"I really like working with the weeds," he said, laughing. "I just really, really like gardening."