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City ‘paints’ landscaping bark to save money

The city of Mercer Island is looking for ways to stretch its dollars.

Last month the parks maintenance crew sprayed a nontoxic colorant on bark mulch in the LID park, city-owned planter beds and on the highway overpass planters.

“We’re just going to refresh the color so it looks new,” said Parks Manager Aaron Heyer.

Last year the city spent $42,000 for a private company to spread a two-inch layer of mulch in the 77-acre LID park planter beds, along Interstate 90 and overpass planters, he said.

The funds are part of a sum paid to the city by the state to maintain the LID park and planter beds, Heyer said.

But this year, instead of putting down new mulch, the city purchased 42 gallons of dye concentrate to give the mulch a “like-new” look. City parks employees are currently spraying the colorant on the mulch as weather permits.

Every two years, the city will continue to add a new two-inch layer of bark, and if the colorant works as planned, refresh the bark in the off-years, Heyer said.

The product is meant to enhance the aesthetics as well as the function of aging bark.

“It has no pesticides,” Heyer said. “What it does is shade out the [weed] seeds and restore the color.”

In fact, it’s the same dye used to color bark before it even hits the store shelf or the planter bed.

The parks department plans to complete the project by the end of the month.

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