You are here

Environmental Conservation

Hillwood is committed to enhancing sustainability, saving resources, and protecting the environment. 

    Biodiversity and Conservation

    • Currently removing monoculture groundcovers and replacing them with a diverse plant palate
    • Gradual replacement of invasive plants and groundcovers in the formal gardens with native and other sustainable alternatives
    • Removing invasive plants from natural areas for the past 5+ years: English ivy growing up trees, honeysuckle, etc. 
    • Engage garden volunteers with conservation planting projects in Hillwood's natural areas
    • Incorporating more native plants in the gardens
    • The newly designed native garden at the Collections & Research Center will allow the opportunity to educate the public on native plants, biodiversity, creating habitat, and sustainable gardening techniques
    • Team with the National Resource Conservation Service to develop a Woodland Stewardship Management Plan that will focus on removing invasive plant species and reintroducing regionally native plants

    Sustainable Community Development

    • Contributing to the environmental, social, and economic health of D.C. by instituting community outreach programs that provide resources to underserved children and connect with local organizations that champion accessibility for people of color

    Water Quality and Consumption

    • Multiple water meters and an updated irrigation system are employed to monitor water usage
    • Introduction of porous paving materials to reduce surface water runoff
    • Installation of a bioretention pond to manage stormwater and replenish the local water table
    • Employment of a sand filter to clean runoff from stormwater drains

    Ongoing Initiatives

    • Substitution of chicken wire for floral foam to reduce landfill waste
    • Addition of ground leaves as mulch throughout campus
    • Processing of sticks and branches offsite into commercially available mulch
    • Sustainable practices in the greenhouses:
      • Using organic products for disease and insect control
      • Releasing beneficial insects
    • Sustainable practices in the cutting garden:
      • Using organic products for disease and insect control
      • Controlling weeds through "green mulch" and no-till practices
      • Avoiding monocultural planting blocks to reduce insect damage
    • Sustainable practices in the rose garden:
      • Using organic products for disease and insect control
      • Focusing on soil health with biological infusions
      • Implementing companion plantings to bring in beneficial insects, mitigate soil temperature, and reduce weeding
    • Host annual Green Day of Horticulture
      • Lectures presented to staff and volunteers about conservation landscaping, organic insect and disease controls, and habitat creation in home gardens
    • Encourage horticulture staff to attend and participate in ongoing training, including:
      • GreenScapes Symposium
      • Chesapeake Bay Landscape Professional Certification Program
      • Innovative Lawn Care Conference
    • Safely removing and disposing of old chemicals
    • Expanding organic practices to turf on campus
    • Composting of all green waste removed from the gardens, which is then returned to the gardens to amend the soil 
      • Worms are also used to make specialty compost for compost tea. Nearly 250 lbs of food waste is composted each year.