What's Happening Now

Cutting Corners—and Fixing Them: Boston Parks Restores Degraded Landscape Areas Along Brookline Avenue

By Matt Eddy, MMOC Administrator

Passersby have likely noticed two fenced-in areas along the southeast side of Brookline Avenue adjacent to the Muddy River. Boston Parks and Recreation Department has undertaken a restoration effort in areas where heavy pedestrian traffic has impacted turf and tree health.

Establishing trees and turf in this area has been particularly challenging for two reasons. First, prior to the daylighting of the Muddy River, some of these sections were roadway, so the landscaping efforts here required establishing an ecosystem from scratch. The material used to construct the new bank included a high proportion of stone relative to sand or soil, leading to difficulty in getting plants established there.  

At the time of the start of Phase 1 of the Muddy River Restoration Project, a “jug-handle” road occupied the southeast side of Brookline Avenue. Photo: Google Earth

Second, the geometry of sidewalks and crosswalks in the area tend to encourage pedestrians, cyclists, and joggers to cut corners across the park. Several years of heavy use have contributed to significant soil compaction. Without properly aerated soil, both trees and turf have struggled to survive (see photos).  

To address this, Boston Parks engaged with A&M Home Services to fence the area, mechanically aerate the soil, add new topsoil, and reseed. The area is now being watered regularly as the turf becomes established. (A little rain is helping, too!) Fences will remain in place for at least 90 days and possibly longer, depending on the health of the turf at the end of the summer. For now, the areas look nice and green!

The Muddy River MMOC is in active discussion with Boston Parks to propose longer-term strategies for accommodating and embracing human use of the landscape while simultaneously protecting plant life.

See below for more historic photos.

In June 2017, daylighting and landscaping was complete. Construction fences prevented public access until spring 2018. Photo: Google Earth

By 2023, heavy pedestrian traffic on both sides of the river (combined with the effects of drought) had led to loss of trees and ground-cover in the area.  Efforts to reseed the area without fencing had not succeeded. Photo: Google Earth

Restoration began in early May, 2024. Temporary fences were erected, soil was decompacted, and the area was seeded. Photo: Matt Eddy

Here’s evidence that the turf is now growing in nicely. Photo: Matt Eddy