No spray on Melwood Avenue and Gold Way

A few residents near the border between Polish Hill and Oakland have been planting and maintaining spaces of City land along Gold Way for a few years now.  On occasion, City contractors spraying for weed control accidentally sprayed the cultivated areas with weed killer.  These mistakes were frustrating for the residents who had purchased plants and bushes and spent hours tending these public green spaces.

Now, the PHCA Green Team, in collaboration with the Department of Public Works , has come up with a new effort to make sure that cultivated areas are not at risk for being sprayed.  Polish Hill artist (and PHCA board member) Myra Falisz designed a No Spray sign, with the image of a flower and a butterfly.  The DPW sign shop produced the signs.  City crews installed the signs last week.  The occasion was even marked by an article in the Post-Gazette.

We’re excited about this collaboration and look forward to seeing this area bloom and thrive as an example of what dedicated individuals can to make their community more beautiful.

(Photos by Alexis Miller)

What's going on at West Penn Park? It's the City's Edible Gardens program!

Last week, the PHCA Green Team and a crew from the Department of Public Works installed raised beds at West Penn Park.  The beds are a part of the City of Pittsburgh new Edible Gardens Program, an expansion of the Green Up Pittsburgh program.  In partnership with the servePGH initiative and the City’s Department of Public Works, Edible Gardens across Pittsburgh will harvest and distribute nearly one ton of produce to at least 200 families in its first year.  Partially funded by a $100,000 Cities of Service volunteering grant by Bloomberg Philanthropies to the Mayor’s servePGH initiative, $44,000 is being dedicated to planting 10-15 high-yielding vegetable and fruit gardens.

Below, the DPW crew building the raised planting beds.

Once a vacant property location is selected, volunteers work side by side with the City’s Green Team to create, design and plant produce. Community garden stewards will be responsible for maintenance, weeding, harvesting and distribution throughout the season.

(Photos by Myra Falisz for the PHCA)

Volunteer opportunity: tree tending on the Knotweed Knockout site on Friday, July 12

Last fall, 24 native trees were planted on the Knotweed Knockout site on Melwood Avenue near the eastern border of Polish Hill (just under the Bloomfield Bridge).  Above is the site in March — the trees are marked by stakes.

This spring and summer, the second Friday of each month is dedicated to tending the trees and maintaining the site.  Join us on Friday, July 12th at 6 p.m. for the monthly maintenance and care of the newly planted trees.  This area is a work in progress with a goal of creating biodiversity.  It’s a great chance to learn about organic tactics for managing the growth of knotweed and other invasives.

The work that will be happening this month consists of removing growth from the around the trees to ensure their root systems aren’t being competed with.  We’ll also be doing some weed whacking in the area.  Tools and gloves will be provided. Please wear sturdy shoes and long pants.  For more information, email Valerie Testa of the PHCA Green Team.

More photos from the Love Your Block / Dobson Street steps workday

Last Saturday over 20 volunteers came out to help fix up the Dobson Street steps.  We already posted some photos, but since then someone sent us more.  And since these photos let you see more of the people who helped out, and since we’re really happy with the way the steps look … well, here you go.  Above are Dan Pagath and Tom Ogden.

The volunteers also worked on the steps between Fleetwood and Dobson Streets.  Here, Sarah Koenig sands the railings prior to painting.

Josiah Parkinson paints railings while Terry Doloughty clears debris from the steps.

Above, PHCA president Alexis Miller and Herron Avenue resident Sam Pace painting the railings.

Again, thanks to all the wonderful people who came out to help!

(Photos by PHCA Green Team Leader Valerie Testa)

Neighborhood volunteers come out to fix up the Dobson Street city steps

The city steps that connect Dobson Street to lower Herron Avenue are probably the most-used city steps in Polish Hill.  They had also been looking shabby, with flaking and peeling railings, broken treads, and trash strewn on the hillside.

This morning, over 20 neighborhood residents came out as part of a Love Your Block grant project.  They picked up trash, sanded, cleaned and painted the railings, and installed flower boxes at the top of the steps.  A volunteer braved the overgrown hillside to cut back the knotweed, and a request has been put in to the City to fix the broken treads.

Now the steps look so much better!  Many thanks to all the people who gave up their Saturday morning to help improve this spot in Polish Hill.

If you’re interested in helping out at future cleanup or green space maintenance events, call 412.681.1950 or email us and we’ll contact you for future volunteer opportunities.

(Photos by Tony Ceoffe)

Volunteer opportunity on Saturday, June 15: help improve the Dobson Street city steps

In March, the PHCA was awarded a Love Your Block grant to help improve two sets of our city steps.  Love Your Block is a partnership of Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and The Home Depot Foundation to revitalize Pittsburgh, block by block.  The PHCA Green Team applied for the grant to improve stairs that are crumbling and to repaint rusty multicolored railings.

On Saturday, June 15, the PHCA Green Team will be working on the city steps that connect Dobson Street to the Herron Avenue S-curve.  Work will include sanding and painting the railings, putting in planter boxes, planting, and cleanup.  Meet at the work site, and wear closed shoes and clothes you can get dirty.

For more information about this event and other upcoming PHCA Green Team volunteer opportunities, email Green Team leader Valerie Testa.

Volunteer opportunity: tree care on Saturday May 25

Newly planted trees need extra care in their early years to ensure their health and longevity.  On Saturday, May 25 from 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m., join the Polish Hill Tree Tenders and Tree Pittsburgh as they care for newly planted trees in Polish Hill.  Tasks will include weeding, mulching, adjusting stakes, getting to know neighbors and fellow Tree Tenders, and ensuring the health of our next generation of urban trees!

Register here to participate.  Volunteers should dress for the elements in clothes you don’t mind getting dirty.  Meet at the corner of Melwood Avenue and Finland Street in Polish Hill.  Tree Pittsburgh will provide all
tools, equipment and safety gear.

Volunteers come out to plant flowers at West Penn Park

A group of neighborhood volunteers came out early this morning to plant flowers on at West Penn Park.  The flowers provide a welcome splash of color at Brereton and 30th streets.

Valentina (right) will be tending the flower beds through the spring and summer.  Dead-heading a 40-foot plot of marigolds is no small task!


Many thanks to all the volunteers who helped to make this spot so bright and welcoming.  And extra thanks to the firefighters from Station 8, who said they came because one of their comrades is from Polish Hill, but couldn’t make it today.  You all helped make Polish Hill a prettier place, and the neighborhood appreciates your work!

Community garden plots are going fast

Polish Hill has just two community gardens, one on Harmar Street, the other on Wiggins Street.  They’re both small, so the plots go fast.  Most of the plots go to returning gardeners — some have been tending plots here for 30 years or more.

But each year, there are a few plots available for new gardeners.  If you’ve been thinking of applying for a community garden plot, this is the time to do it — the deadline is May 12.  Applicants must be Polish Hill residents, but you don’t have to be an experienced gardener.   Email us for more information.

(The Wiggins garden, just after sunset. Photo by Leslie Clague for the PHCA)