Earlier this year, the City of Riverdale selected Quercus Land Stewardship Services, from Black Earth, WI, to plan, install and maintain the landscapes of the City’s parks and public places as part of a three-year program. Alex Wenthe, the owner of Quercus, is a Quad City native and familiar with the area. The company also has other clients in the community.
Quercus Land Stewardship Services (QLSS) is a small business located in Southwest Wisconsin
that specializes in ecological restoration and vegetation management. Their services include urban
and suburban restorations like retention basins, rain gardens, native landscaping and more.
Alex and his team were in Riverdale this week, starting the project (worth between $20 – $25,000 per year). In addition to the landscaping work they will be performing, Quercus has also been engaged to conduct the year-long, invasive species audit of City property as well as assisting the City in the preparation and implementation of a tree management plan which is intended to address the large number of damaged and standing-dead trees on City property.
We thought it might be helpful to provide some idea of how they view Riverdale’s current landscaping and how Quercus will be helping the city create attractive, sustainable landscapes in the community that all residents can enjoy.
Assessment and Recommendation
As cited in their proposal, Quercus gave the following review of Riverdale’s current situation and vision of the future:
Preliminary site assessments show that current landscaping on City property is in need of repair and maintenance. The existing pants are overgrown and the mulch groundcover has deteriorated significantly. Ornamental plants were mainly used in the initial installation, which often need continued care and maintenance to survive. Some of the current plants are also considered invasive and should be removed.
Quercus only uses plants that are native to the area. Native plants increase habitat/food sources for declining species like bees and butterflies. They also increase water infiltration, decrease erosion, require less maintenance, and survive at a higher rate. Native landscaping doesn’t mean “messy” either. Our native plantings are still formal and aesthetically pleasing.
We recommend using only plants native to Eastern Iowa going forward. There is no need to remove most of the existing plants, however when they die naturally we will replace them with natives. Also when beds need supplemental plants, only natives will be used. This will help keep costs down while transitioning to native plants over the three year contract period. Costs for this recommendation are included in the estimate.
Another recommendation is to make your own mulch. New mulch provides a “fresh” look that is hard to replicate, however mulching every year can get expensive. Rather than spending money to remove invasive and undesirable trees, then more money bring in new mulch. We will do both in one step. We will cut down the trees, chip them into mulch, and use them in the landscaping beds. We use only inert woody material and make sure no invasive seeds are included in the mulch. This technique is both budget friendly and environmentally conscious. Costs for this recommendation are included in the estimate.
The third recommendation is to improve the natural areas around the parks, especially highly visible or high use areas. A specific are to improve is the Northeast corner of Bi-centennial park. There are many old (100 yrs+) oak trees in this area that would benefit from understory clearing and possible replanting. This would improve the park’s usability, aesthetics, and ecological health. We could even add trails as desired by the city. Costs for this recommendation are not included in the estimate.
There are many other intricacies of this project that are difficult to discuss in a written proposal. All of our decisions will be based on our company philosophy to improve the places we work for all creatures, humans and otherwise. Many of our landscaping recommendations will be similar to recommendations made through the vegetation survey. By using Quercus for both the vegetation survey and landscaping contract, we believe you will save time and money and have a better overall product. We are a professional, flexible, and responsive company that aims to increase the long-term heath and viability of your park system.
Where Will the Work Be Done?
According to the RFP issued by the City of Riverdale in December, the contractor selected to install and maintain the City’s landscaping is expected to handle weed, leaf and other debris removal, trim and maintain all bushes and ground cover, sweep and blow off walkways in City spaces and remove all debris and landscape materials. The contractor is also expected to provide playground-approved mulch for the City’s two playgrounds.
Specifically, work will be performed in the following areas:
- City Hall
- Volunteer Square Park
- Bicentennial Park
- Bicentennial Park Playground
- Peggy’s Park Playground
- Mississippi River Trail (Arconic Rest Stop)
- Mississippi River Trail (Arconic Parking Lot/Bellingham Bike Station)
- Duck Creek Bike Path Trailhead/VanGundy Park