Published in the March 31, 2016 edition.


WAKEFIELD — You’ve seen the flower barrels along Main Street in the downtown filled with colorful plantings from spring through summer. Starting in May, look for some additions to that downtown beautification effort.

The Wakefield Main Street Program will be providing four new self-watering planters right in the center of the downtown. The new planters will be placed on the bump-outs on the corners of Main and Chestnut streets and Main and Centre streets.

John Ross, a member of the Wakefield Main Street Program board of directors, appeared before the Board of Selectmen this week to pitch the idea.

He said that the Main Street Program would pay for the planters, the soil and the flowering plants, so there will be no cost to the town. He said that the group would like to have the self-watering planters in place by May 1.

In a self-watering planter, the potting mix is held above the water by a screen or false bottom. The water chamber and the soil above are connected by small porous channel filled with soil, which then acts as a wick.

As water is used by the plants or evaporates off the surface of the soil, capillary action draws more water up from below, exactly as much as is used and no more. The soil has just the right amount of water all the time but also maintains air pockets, which the plant roots also need.

Selectman Paul DiNocco, who also serves on the Wakefield Main Street program board, added that the self-watering planters have a reservoir for water that only needs to be refilled about every three weeks, even less often if supplemented by rain. In between fillings, the soil is kept moist by the planter itself.

Wakefield is one of more than 2,000 communities in the United States where “Main Street” programs have taken root. Main Street is a national movement, (a subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation).

According to its Facebook page, “The mission of the Wakefield Main Streets program is to promote and enhance the economic vitality, cultural resources, historic significance and quality of life in downtown Wakefield. Our programs are dedicated to making downtown Wakefield a great place to invest, work, play, live and experience.”

Ross told the selectmen that he thought the new self-watering planters would be “a great addition to the downtown.”

The selectmen agreed and voted to approve the idea.