Holiday lights and decorations aren’t the only big changes in downtown Leesburg these days.
The city began work Wednesday morning to replace plants and several trees along Main Street between Ninth and Sixth Streets – the first part of a new project to improve the look of the downtown streetscape with new landscaping.
Leesburg also plans to widen portions of sidewalks and rearrange some planting beds. Work will continue east along Main Street to include most of downtown toward Canal Street.
Most of the smaller, shrub-type plants have been removed along Main Street and will be completely replaced within the next few weeks. Two varieties of new trees have been selected with assistance from local businesses and residents.
“It is definitely a good way to spruce things up – some of the old landscaping has been there since 1999,” said real estate broker Gerald Galbreath, who moved into his current business location that same year at 420 W. Main Street. “This is something that is certainly needed.”
Tired-looking Crepe Myrtle and Elm trees between Ninth and Sixth streets will be replaced with Japanese Blueberry and Weeping Podocarpus trees. Sparse rose bushes and flax lilies will be replaced with jasmine, muhly grass and different types of flowering annuals.
“This is our town. We’re very proud of it, and we need to fix it up from time to time,” said Leesburg Mayor David Knowles.
Leesburg is coordinating the landscaping project with LaFleur Nurseries and Garden Center – a company that provides landscape construction, irrigation and maintenance services.
Trees are an important part of Leesburg, providing natural shade and beautifying local neighborhoods. The city is celebrating its 13th year in the Arbor Day Foundation’s Tree City USA program.
Next week Leesburg will give away free trees to recognize the program. The free trees will be available in one-gallon pots. One tree with a planting information sheet will be provided per person from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. between Tuesday, Dec. 17, and Friday, Dec. 20, at Leesburg’s Public Works Department, 550 S. 14th Street. Two varieties include Dogwood and Swamp Chestnut Oaks. For more information, call (352) 728-9886.
Leesburg is a progressive city of more than 20,000 residents in northwest Lake County. The city government serves twice as many people with its electric, gas, water, wastewater and fiber-optic public utilities. Leesburg also is a central hub for commerce, attracting 50,000 people to work each weekday. For more information, visit www.leesburgflorida.gov.