Proposed landscape plan by Stantec.
A renewed landscape plan grows out of a simple request for better soil
Two years ago, the Downtown Reno Partnership started a conversation about improving the soil on the ReTRAC Plaza. In 2005, small trees were planted into bad soil and never took root nor grew beyond their original size. By June 2021, that conversation blossomed into a full-scale public mural and landscaping plan that will give new life to the ReTRAC lid, making it into a beautiful new public space.
“Over the next couple decades, we’ll start to see an actual tree canopy with shade and pedestrian space that’s comfortable and welcoming,” said City of Reno Urban Forester Matt Basile. “That creates a place where tourists and shoppers want to spend time, walk around and participate in our local economy.”
In partnership with Omega Landscaping, Basile’s team will be installing about 16 new trees. But not saplings like you’d see with new construction. No, Basile has sourced six-inch thick trees that are about 12 years old and almost two tons each. He said the install could take two weeks, but when completed, they will start the Locomotion project off with a nice shade canopy. Rick Clark and Omega Landscaping will then install perennial plants that will survive Reno’s harsh climate shifts year round with minimal maintenance and replanting, providing ground coverage to fill in the space between the trees.
The result will look less like the above renderings, which show all the plants in bloom at once, Basile said, but instead will bloom gradually throughout the year. The flowers and shrubs are perennials that each flower at different times throughout the growing season as opposed to annuals that flower all season long. Planting perennials means they will grow back each year, which cuts down significantly on maintenance requirements and replacement costs when compared to annuals.
During the installation process in May-June 2021, Basile and Clark’s teams will focus on replacing the bad soil with a good soil better for long-term plant health. This should keep the landscaping beautiful for decades.
“I think it’s going to have a positive effect on our downtown, almost like creating a Central Park in an area where we don’t have anything like it,” Basile said.
Basile and County Commissioner Alexis Hill, who helped start the project when she worked for the City of Reno’s Arts & Culture Commission, both said they think the Locomotion project is timed well with the launch of COVID-19 vaccines.
“We’re creating this really amazing public space that will hopefully be a jumpstart to get things going again downtown,” Basile said.