Landscape Committee News

May 2020

SHRUB AND TREE TRIMMING BEGIN THIS WEEK

The conservation bed beside the single tennis court is underway.  This is a relatively low-cost method of solving erosion problems. The idea is to amend the soil so more water is absorbed.  This is done by adding sand and leaf mulch to create a “dirt sponge”.  Additionally, native plants are used to sop up more of the water.  Why are we using native plants?  They have longer roots, will hold the soil in place, and will attract insects. Insects?  Shouldn’t we be getting rid of them? 

(B)iologist E.O. Wilson laid out a worst-case scenario. If insects were to vanish, he explained, so would nearly all flowering plants and the food webs they support. This loss, in turn, would cause the extinction of reptiles, amphibians, birds and mammals: in effect, nearly all terrestrial animal life. You can learn more in the link to the news story that follows this article.

This is only one avenue the Landscape Committee is pursuing to save Mews residents money.  This month is when Arlingtonians can begin applying for free trees from EcoAction Arlington. That is right, TREES.  Last year we received a large Swamp Oak for Court 6.  And yes, it is a native species.  Arlington County has been promoting a return to planting native trees.  They are better suited to our environment and hold up well in drought conditions. The committee has identified several areas where new trees are needed. 

            1.  Court 1, 2, 3 – two to three Willow Oak, Scarlett Oak or a combination of both

            2.  Court 11 – Scarlett Oak to replace dead cherry

            3.  Court 12 – American Beech

The Landscape Committee did a walkabout with Environmental Enhancements representative David Arze to identify additional problem areas.  Ivy removal always tops the list but removal is expensive.  Tackling this as a Mews community project would enhance our neighborhood, get rid of an invasive species, and save us all money in the long run.  We will send an email announcement later to see who’s up for the challenge.

Insect article: https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/welcome-bugs-into-your-yard-you-might-just-save-the-world/2020/02/20/62b0a12c-4d18-11ea-b721-9f4cdc90bc1c_story.html

Your Landscape Committee, Fern Birtwistle, Jamie Boone, Sue Davis, Penny Glass

Landscape Committee News

 April 2020

Where you live creates identity, informs culture, and serves as the basis for philosophy. For Native people, everything in nature is animate. Wherever you live, the Creator has provided everything needed for a good life. The job of the community is to know and to understand the intimate relationships that exist among the other animate components.

Trees and plants are a major part of place. Generations of Indigenous people have observed and experimented with the living organisms within their community. This has led to a deep understanding of their uses as well as the relationship to other flora and fauna in an ecosystem. All of this provides an understanding of an individuals or communitys place in the universe.

Maintaining a balance of these sustains health for all members of place – humans, plants, and animals. For this reason, health and plants, whether consumed or not, establish harmony. Sickness is always due to an improper balance within the system.

I read this the other evening and realized how seriously out of balance the world is at this moment. While we have little control over what is going on in the world right now, we can each do our best to work together and contribute to the sense of community around us. 

The landscape committee has continued to work throughout this troubling time to make improvements to the neighborhood for all to enjoy. Phase One of the King Street Rejuvenation project is complete, returning some balance to the Mews.  Trees and plants now line the Mews side of the King Street fence.  

If you haven’t had a chance, take a walk along the King Street fence to see the new landscape behind Courts 2 and 3.  This area in particular has been out of balance with standing water after rain, a perfect mosquito breeding spot.  Excessive water has led to additional tree loss, too.  Returning this space to native plants should help control this problem.

Make no mistake though, this area is not a storage area for unwanted items.  Currently, the Mews offers trash solutions for large items such as broken toys, Christmas trees, charcoal, and dead shrubs. Please do not place trash or other items in this area. Charcoal disposal is explained here:

Finallythe Landscape Committee is thankful for the residents who have volunteered to water.  Let’s give a big shout out to Tom Anderson, who is letting us use his outdoor spigot, Carolyn Creevy, Penny Glass, Judith Guerny, Garon King, and Janice and Larry Peters. 

Your Landscape Committee, Sue Davis, Fern Birtwistle, Penny Glass, and Jamie Boone

Landscape Committee News

March Greetings!

This year EVERY Mews Court will be treated for weed control.  In the past we have been told by Environmental Enhancements (EE) that the treatment they use is “organic”.  Not comprehending what the treatment was, several courts did not get treated last year because of resident concerns.  This year we understand more about this treatment: it is corn gluten meal – a by-product of the manufacture of corn syrup.  The product will not affect bugs, pets, or humans, but only pre-emergent weeds, that is weeds that have not started to grow.  The problem is that our weeds are likely to start growing at any minute!  There are even some daffodils in bloom!

Here is additional information about the organic fertilizer/weed control that is used.

  • It is more expensive than chemical fertilizer as the protein content (yes, the same kind of protein we eat in a bowl of cornflakes) has to be at least 60% in order to be able to put down an effective coating of four pounds per 1000 square feet.
  • The product acts as both a fertilizer and a weed control. The Landscape Committee sat down and talked to David Arze of Environmental Enhancements about this. “The product used today helps to build the soil profile so that you have healthier turf with longer roots.  Healthier grass means fewer weeds.”  The entire process takes about three years, but the investment is worth it.
  • The first application for pre-emerging weed is applied the third week of March.   The next application in April handles post emerging weeds, especially the broad leaf ones. A third application during the summer helps to contain crabgrass.

In other news, new trees and plants are coming to Courts Two and Three along the King Street side of the fence.  This is part of the King Street rejuvenation project.  Sweetbay Magnolia, American Holly, Juniperus Virginiana, Southern Bayberry, and Southern Magnolia have been chosen.  We need volunteers to water.  If you would like to help or have any questions, please contact Suzanne Davis at shoeboxsue@gmail.com.  

Your Landscape Committee,

Fern Birtwistle, Sue Davis, Penny Glass, and Jamie Boone

Landscape Committee News

Rejuvenation Pruning Begins Next Week

This week Environmental Enhancements (EE) will begin rejuvenation pruning on Courts 9 through 15.  I know some of you view this as the triennial hacking of the plants.  Rejuvenation pruning is just as the name implies, a way to maintain shrub health.  Removing a shrubs inner branches allow light into the plant that will help stimulate plant growth.  This is essential as plants mature.  In some cases, plants will be cut back to six to twelve inches.  They will survive and be healthier in the long run.  The Landscape Committee has advised EE NOT to trim azaleas or forsythia.  If you have specific concerns or would like to opt out of pruning, please let the Landscape Committee know ASAP.

You would think that winter would be a quiet month for the Landscape Committee.  Not this year.  Instead we are moving forward with the King Street rejuvenation.  We are focusing on the empty areas behind Courts 2 and 3 and are looking for volunteers to water.  If you are in either of those courts, find a water buddy and let us know.  

The plants being discussed for this area are all evergreens, including short and broadleaf, and a combination of native and non-native varieties.  Adrian Higgins had an interesting article regarding the use of native species that was very thoughtful.

Erosion is another problem the Landscape Committee has been trying to tackle. One example is an area around the single tennis court near the pool. This area has already had expensive drainage work.  We are planting a lower cost conservation garden here that we hope will mitigate the issue.

https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/water/rainscapes/about.html#conservationlandscape

Here’s hoping for some snow.  

Sue Davis, Landscape Committee Co-Chair

Fern Birtwistle Co-Chair, Penny Glass, and Jamie Boone