Plant roots grow into cracks in the pavement and pry it apart. Mosses and lichens can release weak acids cause chemical weathering in rock or concrete. Radishes grow taproots that bore through the soil, aerating and loosening it. Plants make their own environments, altering landscapes that seem at first to be permanent and impermeable. Stacy Levy’s Dendritic Decay Garden harnesses “the destructive power of plant roots…to create different ways to breakdown the remnant industrial hardscape” at Pier 53 on Washington Avenue Green on the Delaware River, and moss carpets the floor of a disused office in the Highland Park Ford Plant, outside of Detroit.
Coming up in the City Wild series: urban foraging, coyotes, and the biodiversity of vacant lots.
Natasha Balwit is an undergraduate student in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at MIT.