But on Thursday, Dan Vera and his crew from Mohawk Nursery began to spruce up the stark void on courthouse square.
Crimson maple trees were planted in the area along Court Street. A row of ivory silk lilac trees now stands on the Market Street side of the property. By the end of the day, the four-man crew was preparing to lay drip irrigation and landscape around the statue of Gen. William Harvey Gibson.
Mr. Vera, who owns Mohawk Nursery, said the only portion of the landscaping that will not be finished today is the area around the large black electrical box at the far corner of the property. That area was not in Mr. Vera's original design.
Initially, Mr. Vera had planned to landscape courthouse square earlier in the season, but because of this summer's drought, he waited until he was sure the trees and plants stood a better chance of survival.
Moisture was a major part of Mr. Vera's landscape design, even before the intense heat and lack of rain left much of the area's vegetation dying. Besides preparing the topsoil and planting, the crew from Mohawk Nursery spent part of the day installing an underground drip irrigation system to deliver moisture to the plants and trees.
"The drip irrigation will feed every single item that we install," Mr. Vera explained. "That way, there's no excuse for not having them watered. All somebody has to do is hook the drip irrigation hose up to a faucet and everything will get watered simultaneously."
He added that the water will come from the courthouse annex.
Mr. Vera maintained that a minimal amount of landscaping is best for the immense vacant lot.
"The goal is to get something in there. I could have done something more elaborate, but I'm not a big believer in spending a lot of money on this project at this point," he said. "That's why I thought it was important for me to come in and offer a little more value, not necessarily go crazy with the plantings, but add a little color and a few shade trees without spending a fortune."
Mohawk Nursery produced the low bid of $6,518 for the project.