In early December 2019 the Cedar Rapids City Council approved Eye 380’s creation of a new style of roadside plantings. Becki Lynch, Master Gardener and member of Eye 380, has created a design using a landscaping design technique called “Polliscaping” which combines all elements of native prairie plants with a simple design (see concept drawings below).
The new 6.6 acre site is located on an embankment on the west side of I-380 just north of 32nd Street NE. Initial work is scheduled to begin in March 2020 with spot spraying for thistles and other invasive plants. Follow-up weed removal is scheduled for the spring and summer of 2020. Planting of the crab trees is planned for late September or early October 2020.
The background will feature the native “Pollinator Habitat Zone” seed mix featured in the city’s 1,000 Acre Pollinator Zone plan. Flags of native Black-Eyed Susans will flow from a core “Eye” area of “Prairifire” crabapple trees. Lynch said it will take 2 to 3 years for the site to take shape.
It will be the sixth site developed by Eye 380, a non-profit citizen group whose sole mission is to upgrade the landscape along Interstate 380 in the Cedar Rapids-Hiawatha area.
Funding for the project will come from the grant program offered through the Iowa Department of Transportation, and managed by the City of Cedar Rapids. Eye 380 will be responsible for the site’s maintenance after 2023. The IDOT program has also been used to launch five other projects: at Boyson Road interchange in Hiawatha; Highway 30 interchange; two south of the Wilson Ave. SW interchange; and one near Cedar Lake. All projects are maintained by Eye 380 through contributions from the public and businesses.
General guidelines and tips for “Polliscaping” in your garden can be found under the Project News tab in an article entitled “Polliscaping” – Gardening from a Pollinator’s Eyes.
How will the project develop over time?
Generally, over 2 years the site will be prepped, seeded, mown over a season, and overseeded. It’s going to look awful at times, but it’s important to get rid of invasives and manage woody material FIRST, and that takes time.
Here is an easy read to get a feel for what will occur — https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/ia/newsroom/factsheets/nrcs142p2_008522/
We will be posting the timeline for the major steps of development on this page, so please stop back frequently! Questions we’ll answer — what’s happening now and why? Why does everything look dead? And why did the whole site get mowed down just when it was looking good? How can we all help establish habitat?
During those 2 to 3 years, you will see the beauty of natural native plantings, AND a bold design which will highlight the habitat aspect of the project through “Polliscaping.”
We’ll be back with more news in 2-3 months — see you then!