Eye 380’s first project is located at the Hiawatha/Boyson Road exit along Interstate 380. The site was planted in 2008 under a grant from the Iowa Department of Transportation (IDOT), which requires applications for grants be made by a public body, in this case, the City of Hiawatha.
Landscaper Eric Shepley designed the project based on concepts from Kirkwood Community College horticulture students. Easily seen when heading north or south, the planting of hardy landscape plantings was completed for $37,000, which included two years of maintenance.
After 2010 when the plants were established, the upkeep of the site became the financial responsibility of Eye 380. That annual maintenance per site runs as high as $3,000, depending on weather and growing conditions, and can include replacement of plants that failed to thrive, trimming/pruning shrubs, and application of mulch for water conservation. Occasional mowing has been handled by the City of Hiawatha on as as-needed basis.
The original plantings at the side included a Native Wildflower Mix, Mugo Pine Shrub, deciduous shrubs including Magic Carpet Spirea and Summer Wine Ninebark, and grasses (miscanthus) consisting of Morning Light and Purpurascens.
During the past 8 years, replacements for plants that have not thrived at the site have been replaced as needed. Currently, site plantings include the original Mugo Pine and Ninebark; in 2019 new plantings of Little Bluestem grasses in among the Ninebark was done to provide visual interest when mature in the next year.
Eye 380 is frequently gauging the suitability of plants used at each site, and making appropriate changes to the landscape. The “lessons learned” at each site are valuable data for future plantings.
The landscape along both sides of Interstate 380 is the first impression of our community for many visitors. And area residents deserve a pleasant I-380 environment to enhance their travel along the Corridor, too. Your support is vital to continuing what Eye 380 has started.