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The Big One: Destination district

September 19, 2022 -  By
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Company: Ruppert Landscape
Location: Washington D.C.

Washington Harbour is a mixed-use property in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington D.C., with restaurants, shops, offices, luxury condominiums and outdoor entertainment. Michael Moody, associate branch manager for Ruppert’s Washington D.C. landscape management branch, says the relationship with the property’s management team has grown over the 10 years the company has serviced Washington Harbour.

“We’ve been fortunate to grow our partnership as the Georgetown Business Improvement District (BID) area has evolved, and it’s definitely rewarding to see the community enjoy this live/work/play space,” says Moody.

As a part of BID, Moody works with Washington Harbour and the district to keep the high-profile area looking its best. Moody meets with the team from Washington Harbour weekly and tours the site monthly with the client. Moody says the team at Ruppert ensures the landscaping of the entire property coordinates — including restaurants and retail spaces not serviced by the company.

A hallmark of the property are the flower baskets on its 35 boardwalk streetlamps. Ruppert rents a scissor lift to install and take down the flower baskets and holiday wreaths. Moody says the relationship with the property’s management team allows Ruppert the freedom to experiment with its seasonal approach to
color rotation.

“In the last two years, we have installed a mum rotation (usually between mid-September to mid-October),” Moody says. 

Ruppert crews use Ego battery-powered backpack blowers because Washington D.C. enacted leaf blower regulations at the start of the year. Crews use Exmark mowers and Echo two-cycle handheld equipment.

The project earned Ruppert Landscape a gold award from the 2021 National Association of Landscape Professionals’ Awards of Excellence program.

Photo courtesy of Ruppert Landscape

Photo courtesy of Ruppert Landscape

Washington Harbour is a mixed-use neighborhood near historic Georgetown. Ruppert Landscape partners with the city to deploy seasonal landscape and decor and offer year-round tree maintenance to enhance the property, which is part of the Georgetown Business Improvement District.

Photo courtesy of Ruppert Landscape

Photo courtesy of Ruppert Landscape

Crews from Ruppert Landscape plant 6,000 annuals per seasonal rotation at Washington Harbour. 40-foot London plane trees line the breezeway. BID requires a certified arborist to service trees in the district taller than 14 feet and larger than 3 inches in caliper. Ruppert Landscape monitors the trees for health and safety hazards.

Photo courtesy of Ruppert Landscape

Photo courtesy of Ruppert Landscape

Areas subject to a wind-tunnel effect require frequent clean-up and sturdy and wind-resistant plant material, such as Dragon Wing begonias and evergreen shrubs.

Photo courtesy of Ruppert Landscape

Photo courtesy of Ruppert Landscape

Majesty palms and coleus provide a pop of color and scale to this fountain area. Crews ensure the root balls of the palms are deep enough to sustain the high winds that come off the Potomac.

Photo courtesy of Ruppert Landscape

Photo courtesy of Ruppert Landscape

This photo, taken in 2013, shows the shade-loving plant palette that includes astilbe, hostas, and hydrangeas as they are newly established.

Photo courtesy of Ruppert Landscape

Photo courtesy of Ruppert Landscape

Crews prune hydrangeas in the late winter and early spring to promote larger blooms. An in-house integrated pest management specialist designed an IPM program for the shrubs, including treatments for boxwood leafminer and white scale on hollies.

Photo courtesy of Ruppert Landscape

Photo courtesy of Ruppert Landscape

A small turf area in this courtyard is maintained in-house, with aeration/overseeding once a year in the fall.

Photo courtesy of Ruppert Landscape

Photo courtesy of Ruppert Landscape

Ruppert Landscape provides rodent mitigation services as needed. Crews installed mesh netting to prevent rodents from chewing roots.

Photo courtesy of Ruppert Landscape

Photo courtesy of Ruppert Landscape

Night crews water the 12 bright pots that flank the restaurants and building entrances. To reduce their safety risk in this busy urban environment, crews wear safety vests, use strobe lights on the top of vehicles and vehicle flashers to increase visibility.

Photo courtesy of Ruppert Landscape

Photo courtesy of Ruppert Landscape

Crews service this property at the end of the work week to ensure it looks its best for the weekend as this location attracts hundreds of visitors a day.

Photo courtesy of Ruppert Landscape

Photo courtesy of Ruppert Landscape

In November, the property’s fountain transforms into the Washington Harbour Ice Rink, open every day for public skating until March. In the winter, crews work to keep the wooden boardwalk free of snow and ice with around-the-clock removal during winter weather events.

Photo courtesy of Ruppert Landscape

Photo courtesy of Ruppert Landscape

For this area to attract and interest visitors, continuity and vibrant plant material are a must. Ruppert and the client decide color themes and basket designs the fall before planting. Ruppert works with the grower to ensure mature annuals will be ready for spring.

Photo courtesy of Ruppert Landscape

Photo courtesy of Ruppert Landscape

Ruppert crews record and track pH and moisture levels, wind speed and temperature of a sampling of baskets and beds. This information enables the crews to identify problems, such as fungus infections, before they arise.

Photo courtesy of Ruppert Landscape

Photo courtesy of Ruppert Landscape

Crews rotate baskets clockwise every two to three weeks to ensure uniform growth.

Photo courtesy of Ruppert Landscape

Photo courtesy of Ruppert Landscape

Ruppert Landscape oversees Washington Harbour’s seasonal landscape and decor programs, including overflowing flower baskets in the spring, festive decor during the holidays and year-round tree maintenance in partnership with the city.

Christina Herrick

About the Author:

Christina Herrick is the editor of Landscape Management magazine. Known for her immersive approach to travel from coast to coast in her previous stint as senior editor of American Fruit Grower Magazine, she uses social media (Twitter/Instagram @EditorHerrick) to share her experiences on the road with her audience. Herrick has a degree in journalism from Ohio Northern University. She can be reached at cherrick@northcoastmedia.net.

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