Downtown Greenery: A Look Behind the Plants

There’s a juxtaposition this time of year: The weather starts to feel like spring but the lush greenery hasn’t fully returned. Despite the varying temperatures, Kelly Yeager has had warmer seasons on her mind since December, when she placed the order for Downtown St. Louis’ 2018 landscaping needs. Yeager, the Landscape and Beautification Manager with the Community Improvement District, is one of the people responsible for the pops of color peppered throughout the area each summer.

Yeager and her small team manage and maintain many of Downtown’s natural additions. This includes some 260 hanging baskets, 160 planters and 1,200 tree wells, in addition to an assortment of rain gardens, landscaping bump-outs and outdoor public furniture. Currently, the flowers for those public spaces are growing—Yeager explains they’ll be installed after Mother’s Day.

“I’ve been doing this for 13 years, so I have an idea of what works and doesn’t,” Yeager says in regards to annual changes to her plantings. “But I will experiment a bit. I might try something new, or I might change the color scheme.” This year, for example, the hanging baskets will alter a bit in hue from 2017. St. Louisans can expect a lush array of lime foliage partnered with reds and pinks. Petunias and begonias as favorites for the spots.

While the flowers may grab attention, this month is all about the trees. March is a great time to install new trees in empty wells, Yeager explains, as they should be planted before the leaves appear. In addition to her degree in urban forestry, she is a certified arborist and municipal tree specialist.

“The angle that I come at is the sociological benefits of greenery,” Yeager explains. “I do know from studies that greenery increases the attention span of children with ADD and ADHD. It can decrease domestic violence around any residential area. People linger longer and spend more money in retail stores that have greenery. I think it’s important that an urban environment has an urban forest integrated within it.”

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