Healthy Parks Begin in Your Garden

sorticultureThe Green Everett Partnership is excited to celebrate Sorticulture from June 12-14th! Why are we so excited about this annual garden arts festival? Because gardeners – in addition to our amazing restoration volunteers – help grow healthy urban forests.

Taking care of Everett’s forested parkland is a critical step to improving our water and air quality, protecting habitat for wildlife, and providing safe and enjoyable recreational spaces. The volunteers who remove invasive plants like ivy and blackberry and plant native trees and understory plants provide an invaluable service in protecting Everett’s natural resources. However, if you looked at the City from a bird’s-eye view, most of what you’d see would be privately-owned land, including a lot of ornamental and vegetable gardens or natural areas. That means that in order to have a truly healthy city, public and private lands need to work together.

In some cases, how we take care of our private backyard garden can end up degrading the condition of Everett’s parkland, despite our best efforts to restore, maintain, and steward these areas. For example, English ivy growing as a border plant in someone’s garden can “escape” into a public park, by spreading beyond a property line or when seeds are carried by birds (sometimes over large distances!). Invasive plants also spread onto public lands when yard waste is illegally dumped into a park. And if yard waste is dumped on a steep slope or bluff, it can actually smother vegetation that is stabilizing the slope and cause erosion or even contribute to a slide. About half of all invasive species are escapees from gardens!

Home gardeners, however, can also be a great ally for Everett’s parks and urban forest by using good gardening practices and helping trees thrive on their property to add to the City’s forest canopy. Gardeners can also talk to their neighbors and friends to support the Green Everett Partnership’s forest restoration efforts.

Please visit the Green Everett Partnership booth at the Sorticulture festival on Saturday, June 13th to learn more about our community-based forest restoration efforts, how gardeners can support our forests, and make your own pine cone bird feeder to take home!

Some things gardeners can do to support healthy forested parks:

  • Remove invasive plants from your landscape and dispose of them properly – for a full list of plants to avoid and what to do with them, check out the Washington State Noxious Weed Plant List
  • If you know that a plant is invasive, do not plant it in your ornamental landscape (or anywhere!)
  • Place all yard waste in your city yard waste container, never in a public park
  • Create a backyard habitat garden with beautiful northwest native plants
  • Volunteer at a Green Everett Partnership event!
  • Become a volunteer VIP as a Green Everett Forest Steward!