Archived Story

Green thumb needed

Published 7:42pm Tuesday, September 4, 2012

When Hartselle’s downtown streetscape was reconfigured a few years ago, there was no doubt about the need. The storefront awnings were in disrepair, potholes and pigeon poop marked the sidewalks and inadequate streetlights left the central business district looking like a ghost town after nightfall.

The changeover achieved the desired aesthetic appeal. It even chased most of the pigeons away; however, what it didn’t do was come up with an answer for the perpetual care of the flower and shrub beds, which stick out from the edge of the sidewalks like knots on a log.

These half-pie-shaped raised planters were obviously designed to create green space in a bed of concrete and asphalt. And that’s no problem for someone who has never experienced removing unwanted weeds and grass from a flowerbed or vegetable garden.

But let topsoil, buried seed, water and sunshine have their way and you have a big problem on your hands.

That problem is now being expressed by a covering of stubborn Bermuda grass in the planters located in the Railroad to Sparkman Street block of Main Street. It surrounds the lilies and shrubs and, unless its deep roots are removed, will eventually suffocate anything in its path.

Stopping its spread and removing its roots is no easy task. The roots run very deep in the soil and every little sprig has to be dug up and discarded; otherwise, it will return with a vengeance greater than before.

Credit is due Hartselle High School’s FFA chapter whose members have donated labor toward taking care of the planters. Unfortunately, the Bermuda grass has withstood their best efforts. It’s now a question of whether or not the grass can be removed without disturbing the roots of the other plants. If that’s not possible, perhaps another option would be to remove the lilies and shrubs and let nature take its course, or hit someone with a green thumb to take care of the planters.

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