The is re-thinking its colorful downtown corners in an effort to cut costs and go green.
Switching 13 of the central business district’s 38 flowerbeds from annuals to perennials would save the village more than $8,000 each year in water costs, plant material, and man hours, village horticulturist Dan Hopkins said at last week’s Environment and Public Services (EPS) Committee meeting.
Hopkins, who said the perennials could still provide a variety of colors and style throughout the year, wants to test the success of the switch with the selected 13 beds and possibly move forward with a complete business-district switch from annuals to perennials in future years.
Currently, all of the village’s downtown flowerbeds are filled with annuals, which need to be replaced each year.
The 13 test beds are located on Hinsdale Avenue and 1st Street, but are away from Washington Street and the main downtown drag. Hopkins said the selected beds are not raised or curbed and offer little protection from salt trucks, the biggest threat to perennials’ health.
“If these work,” Hopkins said of the 13 beds, “[perennials] should have no problems in the other ones.”
Converting the 13 beds would save the village $2,627 in water-usage costs each year, according to Hopkins’ report. While annuals require watering three times per week, perennials only need to be watered for the first two weeks after planting. They take care of themselves after that, Hopkins said.
The village would also, after the first year, save $1,893 annually on planting materials. The perennials cost roughly the same as the annuals, but don’t require yearly replacement. They would be a one-time expense.
The switch to the low-maintenance perennials would equate to $1,747 in village man-hour savings.
EPS Committee chairperson Laura LaPlaca said the switch is a great idea and, if successful, would line up with the village’s green approach to .
“We’ll start being an eco-friendly community,” LaPlaca said.
Director of public services George Franco said Western Springs has had success converting to perennials in their business-district flowerbeds.