Spring Is Here, and the Potholes Are in Bloom

Pothole Garden

Last week here in New York, drivers feigned celebration over the most depressingly noteworthy of city stats: the transportation department filled its two-millionth pothole. It’s a springtime ritual on city streets worldwide. Wintertime road salt eats away the tar, rain and snow fill the cracks, the water freezes, thaws, freezes again, and, pop! Pothole.


Fortunately, they can all be healed, at least temporarily, with a few basic tools: a shovel and a rake, a broom, hot black cement and a trailer hauling three steaming tons of ground stone and asphalt. […] Sweep out the hole. Pour in a thin layer of asphalt cement. Shovel in the hot mix. Rake smooth. Tamp into place. A few passes with the 100-pound roller, a seal of asphalt cement around the edges, gather your cones and roll down the block. You will not have to go far.

In New York, they’re graded, A, B, and C. C is the worst. Last week’s #2,000,000 was a C: 2 feet wide, 2 inches deep. Of course, besides the two million the city has filled since it began counting in 2002, millions more potholes yawn unchecked, blemishes on the already worse-for-wear face of urban infrastructure. (The Times is tracking them all–submit your local axle-buster here.) Which is why University of Brighton graphic design student Pete Dungey‘s Pothole Garden project is so brilliant. He proposes filling Britain’s holes with plants, like oases in asphalt deserts. It’s a nice piece of urban intervention, but too bad what softens the blow to your shock absorbers is a miniature garden getting squashed.