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Horticulture

The horticulture department at 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
    • Last year, removed invasive barberry from a garden and planted a wide variety of plants that included some native shurbs and perrenials 
    • Removing invasive plants from natural areas for the past 5+ years: english ivy growing up trees, honeysuckle, etc. 
    • Earth Day programming: influence visitors by showcasing Hillwood's sustainable initiatives, engage volunteers with conservation planting project
    • Incorporating more native plants in the gardens
    • New designed native garden will allow the opportunity to educate the public on native plants and their usage
    • Work with NRCS to develop a Woodland Stewardship Management Plan that will focus on removing invasive plant species and reintroduce regionally native plants

    Sustainable Community Development

    • Contributing to the environmental, social, and economic health of D.C. by instituting community outreach programs that provide gardening resources to underserved children, provide services for local organizations that champion accessibility for people of color, and provide flower arranging classes as an economic opportunity for those in need 

    Water Quality and Consumption

    • Installed a new irrigation system to monitor water usage 

    Energy Use and Impacts

    • Implementing a replacement plan of conventional gas powered horticulture equipment with electric/battery-powered equipment
    • Replacement of conventional lighting with LED lighting in the production greenhouse

    Ongoing Initiatives

    • Substitution of chicken wire for floral foam to reduce landfill waste
    • Augmentation of bought in mulch with ground leaves from campus
    • Better tracking of water usage through the upgraded irrigation system
    • Organic pest controls in the greenhouse:
      • Using organic products for disease and insect control
      • Releasing beneficial insects
    • Organic practices in the cutting garden:
      • Using organic products for disease and insect control
      • Controlling weeds through "green mulch" and no-till practices
    • Organic 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
    • Green Day of Horticulture: education session for volunteers
    • Lectures presented to staff and volunteers about conservation landscaping, organic insect and disease controls, habitat creation in home gardens
    • Staff education
      • Chesapeake Bay Professional
      • Innovative Lawn Care Conference
    • Disposal of old chemicals for human and environmental health 
    • Expanded organic practices for turf on campus 
    • Compost of all plant material 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 has been composted this way in the last year.