Self-watering planters coming to downtown Wakefield

03Apr16

Thanks to ‘Wakefield Main Streets’ program

By MARK SARDELLA

flower_barrelWAKEFIELD — You’ve seen the flower barrels currently along Main Street in the downtown filled with colorful plantings from spring through summer. Starting in May, look for some new additions to that downtown beautification effort.

The Wakefield Main Streets program will be providing four new self-watering planters right in the center of the downtown. The new planters will be placed on the bump-outs on the corners of Main and Chestnut streets and Main and Centre streets.

John Ross, a member of the Wakefield Main Street Program board of directors recently appeared before the Board of Selectmen to pitch the idea.

planter2He said that the Main Street Program would pay for and maintain the new planters, the soil and the flowering plants, so there will be no cost to the town. He said that the group would like to have the self-watering planters in place by May 1.
The Main Streets board has narrowed the type of self-watering planter to three different styles. The new planters will not supplant the flower barrels currently all along Main Street, which are maintained by a different organization.

In a self-watering planter, the potting mix is held above the water by a screen or false bottom. The water chamber and the soil above are connected by small porous channel filled with soil, which then acts as a wick.

planter1As water is used by the plants or evaporates off the surface of the soil, capillary action draws more water up from below, exactly as much as is used, and no more. The soil has just the right amount of water all the time, but also maintains air pockets, which the plant roots also need.

Selectman Paul DiNocco, who is also president of the Wakefield Main Street program board, added that the self-watering planters have a reservoir for water that only needs to be refilled about every three weeks, even less often if supplemented by rain. In between fillings, the soil is kept moist by the planter itself.

planter3Wakefield is one of more than 2,000 communities in the United States where “Main Street” programs have taken root. Main Street America is a national movement, a subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

According to its Facebook page, “The mission of the Wakefield Main Streets program is to promote and enhance the economic vitality, cultural resources, historic significance and quality of life in downtown Wakefield. Our programs are dedicated to making downtown Wakefield a great place to invest, work, play, live and experience.”

Ross told the selectmen that he thought the new self-watering planters would be “a great addition to the downtown.”

The selectmen agreed and voted to approve the idea.

[This story originally appeared in the March 31, 2016 Wakefield Daily Item.]

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One Response to “Self-watering planters coming to downtown Wakefield”

  1. 1 Christian Trocchi

    Flower boxes and signs are very nice
    Main Street America and Main Street Wakefield is a noble organization but when is our town leadership and our chamber of commerce going to start putting more of an emphasis on incentives and great offerings to business’ to fill the many vacant run down closed up store fronts on our Main Street? All due respect to our leaders we can have hundreds of signs saying stroll shop and dine and twice as many beautiful flowers in self watering plants but unless this community begins to losen it’s restrictions and high rents fees and taxes on small business’ all the signs and flowers in the world will do nothing to attract people and strengthen our towns economy if our downtown storefronts continues to remain vacant.
    Historical preservation and revitilalization should not be a bad word and certainly not feared. If Melrose can have such a successful and beautiful mix of historical preservation and thriving downtown business’ why can’t Wakefield. Stop living in the good old days and instead start concentrating on making Wakefields Downtown prosper again.


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