010418 Highway 17: Brown will be the new green for median grass this winter
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Highway 17: Brown will be the new green for median grass this winter

By Emily Topper
Coastal Observer

For the first time this year, the Litchfield Beautification Association will cease overseeding with winter rye grass in its seasonal landscaping.

“At the advice of our landscapers and our own operations person, Vonne Pannucci, we were advised that overseeding with winter rye is not always the smart thing to do,” Ken Dewell, the association’s incoming president, said. “As I understand it, when you use winter rye you then have to use additional chemicals to kill it back in the spring so that it doesn’t choke out the regular grass. We’re hoping that it will make the regular grass a lot more healthy, that we’ll look better for the other nine months of the growing season.”

Rye grass can persist through the late spring if cooler weather continues.

Pannucci said the association wants the landscaping to be reflective of seasonal plants in the Palmetto State.

“We want the medians to look like they belong in South Carolina and not necessarily reflect the greenness of Florida,” she said.

Previously, the rye overseeding maintained the landscaping’s green color.

Pannucci said residents can expect to see hawthorn plants, followed by myrtles in March and April.

“The state also put in knockout roses that have done well,” Pannucci said. “There’s a little more care for them because they need to be cut back. What’s most important is that we want it to look taken care of and welcoming to the community. It’s a front door, so to speak. It’s for the tourists, but it’s for the residents as well. We trim, we edge. Hopefully the first thing they’re going to be impressed with is the way our medians are taken care of.”

Pannucci added that by not overseeding, the association would save money on winter landscaping.

The association started about 10 years ago, Dewell said. With a budget of about $120,000 per year, about 80 percent of the association’s funding comes from private donations, including businesses, home owners’ associations and individuals.

The other 20 percent comes from the accommodations tax through Georgetown County, which usually grants the association about $25,000 per year. This year, the association will receive about $3,000 less.

“They had about $100,000 more in requests than they had in available funds, so everyone had to shoulder their share,” Dewell said. “We asked for $25,000 and we got $22,000, which is about a 12 percent reduction. The biggest challenge is to try to ensure that we obtain the funding we need to maintain the level of aesthetic beauty that we see out there today. We’ve pretty much planted throughout the entire corridor.”

Dewell said he believes the association can accommodate the $3,000 difference with its existing resources, but that they will try to close the gap with private donations.

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