Beach Grass Planting Season
Now that fall is officially upon us, pack up those beach chairs and dig out those trowels—it’s beach grass planting season!
While summer is over, beach grass plays an important role in fortifying the dunes on the beach all year round. Its dense roots and long leaves allow for sand accumulation that leads to dune formation and stabilization. Dunes buffer ocean waves and thus protect the coast and coastal communities from storms and sea level rise.
Although many people think of spring as the prime time for planting flora, it is ideal to plant beach grass during its dormancy period from November through the end of March, provided the sand is not frozen.
To supply beach grass for the Rockaway coastline, JBRPC and its partners at the National Park Service, the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation and the Natural Areas Conservancy created a 3.25-acre nursery at Floyd Bennett Field in honor of lifelong conservationist Marian S. Heiskell.
Over the course of a year, beach grass is harvested and processed—the dead parts are removed and the plant is divided into culms—and then planted.If you would like to volunteer to harvest or plant beach grass this season, please visit our Volunteer page or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ammophila breviligulata, commonly referred to as American beach grass, is characterized by its long, narrow leaves and its ability to prosper in hot, high-salinity environments. It can be found along the Atlantic coast from New England to North Carolina.
Its leaves have adapted to roll or fold when exposed to heat, sunlight and wind and can orient away from the wind to conserve moisture. The grass, which grows to 2’ to 3’ high, can be buried by more than 1’ of sand and still flourish due to its dense, deep root structure.
Beach grass does not require much water or organic material for survival; in fact too much moisture in the soil is detrimental to the plant’s livelihood.
Although dunes can withstand tough conditions, they are not infallible. Human and animal traffic can uproot beach grass and threaten dune stability. Furthermore, intense storms or floods may also negatively impact dunes. Planting beach grass can rehabilitate damaged dunes and restore coastal protection.
The Beach Grass Nursery at Floyd Bennett Field is made possible by generous support from Bloomberg Philanthropies.