Pratt city park crews are busy getting parks ready for spring and summer activities.
Spring has finally arrived along with some much needed moisture in Pratt. Trees are budding, flowers are blooming, grass is greening up and the city parks crews are working hard to get ready for the summer and spring season.
Crews are still working on getting "hangers" out of trees after an ice storm in late winter. Many trees still have broken branches in the parks and in town that need to be removed, said Mark Eckhoff, parks superintendent.
With so many bushes and trees, there are some things that have died so there's always something that needs to be removed. The park is still losing an occasional tree to pine wilt.
Deer are also part of the tree loss problem especially with new trees. Deer like to rack their antlers against the bark on young trees. If they get too aggressive, the tree will die and have to be replaced.
Other projects include adding wood chips to play ground areas and working on the lights on the Avenue of Flags. A new sign for the Avenue is also in the works.
The results of a lot of hard work last fall has shown up in the remodeled flower beds at the Avenue of Flags.
Eckhoff said he had planted 600 tulip bulbs in the new flower bed and they are blooming in a wide variety of colors right now. Other flowers in the boxes include daffodils and hyacinths.
The bulbs were planted in the new flower beds but not beneath the flags because they need to be down six inches and bottom of the flag flower beds are just at six inches so none were planted there.
While flowers have been planted, Eckhoff said he probably wouldn't be planting any more trees in Lemon Park this year. Walmart gave the city their leftover trees last fall so the parks don't need any more trees right now.
"We planted a bunch from last year. We're in pretty good shape," Eckhoff said.
Plans for changes in the park are still under consideration so Eckhoff didn't want to spend a lot of time planting trees that might have to be removed at a later date.
Besides not needing trees right now, it takes a lot of effort to plant and keep trees alive. Spring is a busy time for the parks crews with grass mowing and getting restrooms ready to open so they don't have a lot of extra time to take care of new trees.
"We don't have the manpower to water trees. We don't want to plant any more than we can take care of," Eckhoff said.
A lot of trees in the nature trail in Lemon Park lost branches in the ice storm. Because of the limited access, most of limbs from the ice storm and others that had already fallen down will be left to decay and form natural fertilizer. Army ants help with that process. The natural forces of nature are an important part of the parks system.
While the parks department cleared trees off the nature trail paths, other hanging branches will be left so people do need to be careful when walking in the park.
The natural decay process helps the growth of mushrooms that many people like to harvest.
Honey suckle bushes continue to thrive in the park. Many of the bushes were removed to reclaim more accessible areas. However, the bushes continue to grow and the park has no plans at the present to remove anymore bushes because they have plenty of other things that need to be done.