Maintenance at work in Boston’s Emerald Necklace

Pruning in the Emerald Necklace

Boston’s Emerald Necklace, designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and stewarded by the Emerald Necklace Conservancy, boasts more than 9,000 mature trees in its seven miles and 1,100 acres. The Conservancy’s tree care program, the Olmsted Tree Society, was founded in 2013 to preserve and maintain the Necklace’s tree canopy. Together with public partners Boston Parks and Recreation, Brookline Parks and Open Space and the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, the Society preserves and maintains trees with pruning, soil enhancement, watering and more.

This year, the Conservancy is completing its first seven-year tree pruning cycle of all trees in the Necklace. This is a momentous occasion, signifying that every single tree in the 1,100-acre park system has been inspected, pruned or assessed! Why all this tree work? Pruning can make a great difference in ensuring strong, healthy tree growth for years to come, helping to preserve and nurture the parks’ canopy today and in the future. Pruning crews are out in full force in two park “links”— Justine Mee Liff Park and the Riverway— pruning more than 1,500 trees by April. Some of these trees date back to the creation of the Emerald Necklace by Frederick Law Olmsted, so this “health check” is a fitting birthday gift for Olmsted’s Bicentennial!

An Olmsted Now yard sign in the park via Ummo

Greater Boston’s Olmsted Bicentennial

The Emerald Necklace— an 1,100-acre linear park system that welcomes over one million park users annually— was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted in the late 19th century to heal and connect over a dozen neighborhoods across a rapidly urbanizing Boston. He famously insisted to his partners in 1893 that this project and the surrounding Metropolitan District park system was their “most important work.” The ideals central to Olmsted’s work resonate today: from building healthy environments to encouraging social exchange. 

For Olmsted Now: Greater Boston’s Olmsted Bicentennial, the Emerald Necklace Conservancy and Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site (Fairsted) are collaborating with more than 100 regional partners to offer a season of programming from April-October 2022. The bicentennial is a practice field for testing and investing in long-term partnerships that affirm the shared use, shared health and shared power of diverse communities to make parks and public space more vibrant, verdant, equitable and welcoming for all. 

Olmsted Now welcomes all within a 60-mile radius of Boston to engage: share stories on park experiences, projects, and ideas and post events on— which informs quarterly press releases, monthly “Olmsted Now News” E-newsletter, and regular Instagram posts to reach broad and diverse audiences. Starting April 23, look for monthly park experiences along the Emerald Necklace, offered as a nexus for resource sharing and cross-neighborhood collaboration. Olmsted Now is Greater Boston’s moment to affirm and advance Olmsted’s impact on civic life and public health, engage residents in learning about this common resource and intentionally build resilient and inclusive places together.

This article first appeared in the April 1, 2022, issue of Field Notes by the National Association for Olmsted Parks.