Preserving parks and gardens of Barcelona involves carrying out maintenance work in green areas during the year according to life cycle of the various species. These works are aimed at both aesthetic purposes —for instance, timming plant fences— and the good condition of vegetation in terms of structure and phytosanitary state.
Every park and garden is different and, therefore, they require specific maintenance. Some parks are full of trees and in some others shrubs or plant fences represent an important part of vegetation. Surfaces of lawns vary, as well as the number of groups of flower and, of course, the species of each one of these green areas.
Another aspect which determines maintenance is the type of park or garden. It is different to take care of a historical park, a forest park or a urban park. Each one has significant specificities. That is the reason why the Department of Parks and Gardens prepares specific maintenance plans for each one of these parks and gardens of Barcelona. It pays special attention to the historical ones since they are much more fragile than the rest of them and their original landscape structure must be preserved.
These maintenance plans allow to optimise resources, as well as both human and technical materials. There is a previous comprehensive study of the tasks and needs in order to develop these plans.
Trees and palms
Maintenance of trees and palms in parks and gardens is somehow similar to the one at roads. Thus, maintenance of parks and gardens trees consists basically of prunning —whether in terms of training, cleaning or crown lifting— and, in the case of palm trees, cleaning dried leaves. There are regular preventive phytosanitary treatments
Lawns are part of every single park and garden, and they are a type of green area which requires more efforts throughout the year in order to maintain their quality, especially taking into account that grass needs a lot of moisture and the weather in Barcelona is Mediterranean. Currently lawn species are selected according to their tolerance to drought situations and high summer temperatures which are typical of this climate.
The harvest is carried out throughout the year and trimming the borders of flower-beds in parks and gardens is usual in order to keep their structure. Other jobs, which are more sporadic, are annual priming and tanning flower-beds.
Covering plants and perennials
Covering plants species require pruning and pinching works, which are usually performed in winter, early spring and late summer. Pruning allows to control plant growing and give them the desired shape. Pinching favours branch growing and, therefore, increases plant thickness. In March and April planting soil is loosened and there are preventive phytosanitary treatments.
As for perennials, each plant lasts from two to three years. When necessary, there are plant replacements by bush division along with new plantings in early spring. Throughout the year, perennial plants require pruning, pinching and trimming. Loosening, fertilisation and preventive pesticide treatments are necessary when spring approaches. Plants are cleaned of dried flowers in early summer and early autumn.
These fences made of shrubs can have different functions: decoration —geometric parterres de broderie—, distribution of space within a park or closure and protection of a particular place, such as playgrounds.
Borders require pruning and a later maintenance, along with trimming in early winter and early autumn, when the plant has stopped growing and after sprouting. When spring approaches, the planting soil is loosened and there is a preventive phytosanitary treatment.
Pruning and maintenance of bushes is twice a year —in early summer and early winter. Loosening, fertilisation and preventive phytosanitary treatments are between late winter and early spring.
Groups of flower
Their beauty —as radiant as ephemeral— light and colour parks and gardens. They are usually seasonal plants, which must be renewed several times a year. The first maintenance work consists of preparing the planting soil during April, August and November in order to have groups of flower in spring summer, autumn and winter. Planting months don't vary. Every month the soil is weeded in order to aerate it plus there's a preventative phytosanitary treatment during the planting months. Three times a year, as the duration of each plantation, dried flowers are eliminated in order to maintain the quality of the groups of flower.
Plantations in terracotta pots are a type of decoration which can be found in historical parks and gardens. The maintenance work basically consist of pinching at the end of summer in order to have thicker sprouts in spring, removing dried flowers and fertilisation.
Throughout the year, weeds are removed, roads made of coarse sand are prepared and street furniture is repaired if necessary. Every day parks and gardens are cleaned and bins are emptied.
The management model of parks and gardens —as well as the one regarding green areas in Barcelona— follows a sustainability criterion, which is based on streamlining maintenance work, optimising irrigation and selecting plant species adapted to the climate of the city.
Since 2001, the Department of Parks and Gardens has the standard ISO 14001 con the preservation and management of green spaces and trees in public areas. This certification proves the development of productive processes —in this case, services within the framework of urban areas— by following an environmental management system.
This leads to a continuous work in terms of planning, efforts, revision and improvement of the environmental tasks of the Department of Parks and Gardens, as well as an annual voluntary system of management and audit.
Sustainable gardening is aimed at optimising natural, human and financial resources. This increases the natural quality of green areas, as well as its adaptation to the environment. These spaces become nicer and more useful for users and don't require an expensive maintenance.
Spaces of special interest for biodiversity
Spaces of special interest for biodiversity consist of combinations of trees, shrubs and grasses, planted on soil rich in organic material and soil fauna and offer shelter and food to several species of animals.
Flowers that attract pollinating insects, such as butterflies, and types of fruit that nourish birds, especially in the winter when food is scarce and such fruit represents an important part of their diet.
Stones and trunks grouped provide shelter for insects and lizards and some of these spaces contain so-called hotels for biodiversity that offer nesting places for bees in particular.
Species are choosen according to the Mediterranean climate so that they can be well-adapted and resistant to drought and pollution. Thus, plants grow healthier, they need fewer natural resources (water, fertiliser) and a more sustainable maintenance (less pruning, less mowing, etc.).
Their resistance towards pests and diseases is also taken into account. This reduces the use of pesticides and promotes the natural appearance of trees and the selection of species that require little pruning and trimming.
It consists of using biological treatments, which are environmentally sustainable and do not affect the existing fauna in green areas.
Managing and recycling natural resources
Automated and drip irriagtion are instaled in new parks and gardens in order to optimise and minimise water consumption. In existing parks, these systems are implemented as this is possible. Regarding the origin of water, groundwater network is being extended progressively, so that there is a dicrease in water consumption as a result.
Irrigation systems are also equipped with moisture sensors and rain gauges, which allow to optimise water consumption and avoid watering when it rains or when the soil has enough moisture.
As for recycling natural resources, maintenance of parks and gardens generates a biomass that is recycled and converted into compost, an organic fertiliser which is used in green areas of Barcelona.
Waste from landscaping work is also recycled either in compost or shredded material. In the case of shredded material, it is used as mulch for flower-beds with shrubs and perennials. This prevents water evaporation and weeds.
- Best practices in gardening in Barcelona (PDF, 24 MB)
- Plant Catalogue of the city's Parks and Gardens (PDF)
- Botanic Gardens Plant Catalogue (PDF)
- Parks and Gardens Irrigation Handbook (in Catalan) (PDF, 2.8 MB; in Catalan)