William H Ray Elementary: Ray East Greenspace EcoLawn Installation
- Project Type: Habitat Restoration & Biodiversity, Stormwater Management
- Students: 70
- Staff: 10
- Mentors: Leah McSherry, Ryan Anderson
- Location: Chicago, IL
- Grade Level: 5th Grade
Together with partners from Midwest Grows Green, the Ray School community installed an eco-lawn on the weedy, dusted compacted soil of their east lot. Both the school and the greater community frequently use the east lot field for large events and weekend activities. Because of the area’s high foot traffic and the field's tree canopy, there was a high density of weeds and bare spots. Working with Midwest Grows Green, the Ray School transitioned the field to a durable, low maintenance turfgrass with limited watering, pesticides, and fertilizers.
In mid-September 2022, around 20 volunteers — mostly parents and staff members — pulled nearly 2,000 pounds of weeds, prepped the soil, and then planted a blend of clover. They then mulched the seed and constructed a fence around the area, to protect it from energetic elementary school feet.
Over the next several weeks, volunteers watered the lawn, ensuring the soil didn't dry out. In late October, the school held a winterization workday where volunteers, along with the soil scientist, de-constructed the fence and then protected the soil with long ribbons of straw.
In late April, following the snowy winter, 5th graders at the Ray School participated in a spring workday, in which they worked with the team from Midwest Grows Green, as well as an arborist, on planting final seeds, mulching, tree trimming, and a general trash pickup.