Exciting News!

A behind-the-scenes look at live stake harvesting at Greenland Nursery in Fairmount Park

by Melissa Romero on March 4, 2019

The ongoing work to restore the forest and creeks around the Fairmount Park Horticulture Center took another step forward when Fairmount Park Conservancy and Philadelphia Parks & Recreation staff harvested 800 live stakes.

Live stakes are tree stem cuttings–in this case, of the willow variety–that are installed along stream banks and eventually grow into trees, helping to fortify the stream bank, prevent further soil erosion, and provide exceptional habitat.

The Lansdowne and Montgomery creek valleys, which wind through the grounds of the Horticulture Center and eventually make their way to the Schuylkill River, are in the process of being restored. Historically, these creeks played a vital role in protecting the city’s water supply and were the very reasons that Fairmount Park was originally established. Yet over time, due to diminished resources and an infiltration of infrastructure (roads, etc.), their capacity to keep our waters clean and foster plant and animal life has suffered.



At Greenland Nursery in West Fairmount Park, staff have been growing a variety of willows and Red Osier Dogwoods for years specifically for live staking. The process–from harvest to installation–takes place during the winter, when the trees are dormant. Here’s how we did it: 

1. Using pruners or loppers, we cut branches from the willows and Red Osier Dogwoods into 3-foot-long stakes. We pruned any smaller branches from the live stake.

2. Then, we cut the ends of the live stakes at a 45-degree angle–this proves helpful when the time comes to stick the branches into the stream banks.

3. Finally, we piled the branches into bundles and stored them in water until they are ready to be installed.

Next up: The live stakes will be installed along the Lansdowne and Montgomery creeks later this month, where they will eventually grow into trees, playing a key role in the restoration and improvement of plant and animal life around the Horticulture Center grounds.

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