Greenbelt Restoration Project: February 3, 2018

After every work party, I tell anyone who will listen that it was an amazing work party. And it always is. The transformation in the land that occurs during each three hour work party is mind-boggling, at least to my mind.

Four GreenFriends members, 3 neighbors and 21 students from the University of Washington’s Introduction to Environmental Science class participated in the February 3rd event. Towards the beginning, we divided into 4 teams. The GreenFriends members, who were serving as team leaders, wore orange vests so that they could be spotted easily.

Team 1

During our last work party, volunteers had focused on removing ivy from an evergreen tree and from the ground in an area on the northwest part of the site. At this work party, Team 1 continued that work, this time clearing ivy and blackberry root balls from an ever widening area. All of the debris was taken to an area we call The Rack Zone where it is put on racks that keep it from re-rooting. Having the vines and rootballs on the racks also enhances air flow and the debris will decompose faster than if it was left on the ground.

At the beginning of the work party the area looked like this:

The volunteers worked diligently and had a good time in the process. Even though I don’t have a “before” photo, know that the shed and stone wall shown in the last photo in this section was completely covered with ivy. Until recently, I didn’t even know there was a shed there.

(You can enlarge the photos in a photo gallery by clicking on any of the photos.)

At the end of the work party, the space looked like this. There is still work to do in this area but so  much was accomplished during those three hours.

Team 2

The area where Team 2 worked is adjacent to Team 1’s section of the property. When English ivy grows unchecked and begins to flower, the leaves may change shape and become waxy. It may become a gigantic mass, developing thick stalks that may look more like a tree trunk than an ivy vine. One of the neighbors who has worked on this project from the beginning discovered such a mass in early January. Since then, he has been working to cut it down.

The first set of pictures below show what the area looked like at the beginning of the February 3rd work party. Notice the ivy mass in the background of the first photo. It is not nearly as big as it was originally but it is still huge. The second two photos show some of the piles we would be dealing with at this work party.

Here is a close up of different parts of that mass. It is SO dense.

The volunteers worked on the piles of debris, cutting the leaves and small branches of ivy away from the bigger branches. The leaves and small branches were moved to the rack zone to dry and the bigger branches either stayed in the area or were stacked near the rack zone.

The Rack Zone

By the end of this work party, the rack zone was almost completely full of ivy.


I wonder how long it will take for us to completely remove the mass. I suspect there will be many more work parties and many more piles before this task will be finished. But, at least, when the work party was over, the piles of debris that were there at the beginning were almost gone.

Team 3

On February 26, Silver Capital Management employees are coming to plant trees, shrubs and ground covers in this Greenbelt site. Team 3 helped prepare the ground for that planting work party.

In the days prior to the February 3rd work party, pink flags were placed around the site, marking where each plant will go. Written on each flag was the type of plant that will be planted there.

We’ve found that planting proceeds smoother and faster if the areas where things will be planted are prepared ahead of time.  Prior to the work party, I made two demonstration areas so that the volunteers could see what they would be doing. In one area, I used burlap that had been placed on the ground when we first cleared the land, and in the other I used new burlap.

Team 3 cleared weeds, if there were any, from around the flags and then placed burlap bags around them, leaving a place for the people who will be planting to dig a hole. Once the planting is finished the burlap will be adjusted, if necessary, and then covered with wood chips. Both the burlap and the wood chips will decompose and enrich the soil.

This team prepared spaces for about 70 plants. In the photos below, you can see the burlap that is now scattered throughout the site.

Team 4

The fourth team cleared an area that our volunteers had not tackled before. Seattle Parks Department staff had done an initial cutting of the blackberry vines in that area in March 2017 and then cut them back again during the summer. At the February 3rd work party, the volunteers dug out blackberry root balls and removed ivy.

This is how that land looked at the beginning of the work party. (I think this would be a particularly good gallery for you to click on!)

After instruction on how to clear the land, the team “rolled up their sleeves” and went to work.

The students dug up many blackberry root balls. These are photos of the biggest one they found!

The transformation that took place was remarkable. By the end, this section was clear of invasive plants and covered by burlap bags (the bags help prevent weed growth).

While the students were working, my neighbor John started removing blackberry vines in a nearby area, one where the blackberries are even denser. A team will work in that section during our next work party.

On February 26, these newly restored areas will become home to seven Douglas Fir trees as well as a variety of shrubs and ground covers.

By 12:50 p.m., the tools we used had been cleaned and put away. We then gathered on the Hanford Stairs, which are on the north border of this site, to take a group photo and celebrate the completion of a very successful work party.

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