Meet Hackney's Estates Ground Maintenance Team
Hackney Council’s Housing Estates include almost 250 green areas, offering verdant oases right across the borough. Places for both wildlife and residents alike to flourish.
There are 35 Ground Maintenance staff who lovingly tend these spaces year round. They design planting schemes with environmental concerns in mind, choosing plants that best suit the needs of the space while supporting biodiversity and planting weather resistant sustainable species.
Over the winter months, residents can see the team - in their blue jumpers, preparing beds and putting in shrubs and trees in preparation for next summer.
Alessio Frassi, Gardening Supervisor said: “When people have nice plants outside where they live hopefully they feel better and more relaxed. It makes you feel like you’ve got your green corner - your little bit of paradise.”
Since the start of 2021 no Glyphosate weed killer has been used on Housing Estates green areas as part of a pilot to support biodiversity. Since the success of the pilot, this is now a permanent feature of how the team works. Instead the team is using hand pulling, mulching and in some places letting certain plants that we used to consider weeds grow - adding extra flowering plants to support pollinators and increase biodiversity.
Over the last year the team has also been adding extra wildflowers to the Council’s estate areas. They are even using a special machine to add bulbs to lawn areas without disturbing the turf - which adds a surprising splash of colour to grassy areas in spring.
To ensure foliage can survive both times of drought and the traditional wet English summers, plant species are specially chosen that are hardy and able to thrive in variable conditions.
The most recent bed to be planted is at Fellows Court Estate. It has been planted with a tropical theme - a series of tropical and subtropical plants; palm trees, bananas, cannas, tree dahlias, as well as drought tolerant grasses - which will survive really well and keep a good foliage even when we have the long periods of drought that London usually experiences each summer.
Meet some of the team keeping your estate green:
My favorite plant is the tree dahlia - it's a lovely herbaceous plant which has huge pink flowers and they are a real sight to withhold! I really enjoy doing this planting work on estates, it helps give residents a sense of pride in where they live.
My team is really nice and I enjoy my job, I like working outside. I would recommend this as a career. You get lots of fresh air, you grow things and you learn to take care of the plants. There is never a boring day, it's really fun. My favorite plant is the Canna indica. We have been planting it today. It has big red flowers that come out and makes the place look really tropical.
I like the way residents enjoy the planting, just today we’ve had lots of people come up to say it's looking nice - it improves the estate for the people that live here, so it's a nice outdoor space for people to look out at or while they pass by on their way to school and work. I think green spaces are good for people's mental health and outlook on life. When all the flowers bloom at different times of the year and you look out on all the colours and the foliage it gives you an inner sense of peace.
Today we are planting grasess and palms - they look really good, plus they're hardy and don’t really die away. My favorite plant though has got to be the plam, it is so cheerful in the way it spreads out. Planting these gardens is really important for residents, its cheerful, its a healthy space, people look at it and it just cheers them up - it's good for their wellbeing - it even cheers me up too!
Being outdoors is lots of fun - it’s great to be planting for our residents today. Lots of people come up to us to say they like what we are doing. Come back later though in the spring or summer and it’ll look even better.