Landscape Committee News

In early November, Fern Birtwistle and Suzanne Davis attended a symposium about the use of Native plants in HOA’s and Condo Associations landscapes.  The lectures proved informative and will shape plans as we move forward.

Climate change is certainly an element that has a negative impact on the Mews landscape, however, the use of non-native plants is also a negative factor.  In the past, trees and shrubs have been planted based on whether they grow fast, aren’t messy, or demonstrate the latest in greenhouse innovation.  As a result, plants often fail to thrive.  Worse yet, it adds to the problems of decreased bird and insect activity, a true sign of an unhealthy environment.  So, yes, it is possible to have a landscape that is lovely, but also completely sterile and void of insects and birds.  

Many of the shrubs that fail in the Mews are ones that are not native.  Swapping out failed non-Native plants for native species is one way to create positive change.   Native plants are adapted to this environment, and are better suited to hot, dry summers.  They have longer roots that help prevent run-off and erosion.  They don’t require fertilizer therefore cutting landscaping costs.  Plus, they attract insects and birds that help to create a healthy environment.

Did you know that native oak trees attract butterflies?  Arlington County does.  It has been at the forefront of this “back to Natives” movement by offering free native tree species to residents, HOA’s, and condo associations such as the Mews.  A swamp oak was recently planted in Court 6.  The Landscape committee plans to take advantage of this program on a larger scale in the future.

I admit that the large expanses of grass was one of the elements that attracted me to the Mews.  The reality is that grass has shallow roots and is expensive to maintain.  Erosion and standing water are two of the outcomes.  Converting some side areas – such as those near King Street and others – to small meadow areas using native plants is one way to remedy this situation. 

The bottom line is that by using more native plants we increase diversity on several levels, lower landscaping costs, and create a sustainable environment. Sounds like a win/win to me.

Landscape Committee:

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

Learn more about bird and insect population declines and NOVA natives at the links below.

Bird population decline

https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/home/bird-populations-have-crashed-heres-what-you-can-do-to-help/2019/10/15/f6e33262-e6d2-11e9-a6e8-8759c5c7f608_story.html

Short video about bird population decline

https://www.washingtonpost.com/video/national/health-science/north-american-bird-population-dropped-by-nearly-30-percent-in-last-50-years/2019/09/19/3e439a57-3071-4934-aac2-a3ed1912ac36_video.html

Insect population decline

https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/home/learning-to-live-with–even-enjoy–insects-in-the-garden/2019/08/06/ec6d7760-b3cf-11e9-8f6c-7828e68cb15f_story.html

Plant NOVA Natives

https://www.plantnovanatives.org

Landscape Committee News

November is a busy month. Leaf removal begins the first full week of November. A second leaf removal should happen before Thanksgiving, with the final removal prior to Christmas. Keep in mind that all of this is weather dependent.

The other big event is the annual tree trimming. No, not Christmas, but actual TREE TRIMMING. The Board has contracted with Moore and Wright to remove overhanging limbs, dead branches, and in some cases, dead trees. Don’t be surprised if you hear the sound of buzz saws and wood grinding starting around or about mid-November. Again, this is weather dependent.

The Mews scored a free Swamp Oak for Court 6. The tree will be planted sometime this fall and maybe even into early winter. As everyone knows, nothing is really “free”. The application process was long requiring maps and photographs. Submitting the on-line application proved to be the most challenging, but we were finally successful. Knowing the process, the Landscape Committee will apply for more trees next year.

Finally, Fern Birtwistle and I attended a seminar at NVCC on November 2 about “Sustainable solutions to landscaping headaches.” The seminar targets condominium and homeowners associations and focuses on the use of native and indigenous plants.

All the news for now.

Sue Davis Co-chair, Landscape Committee 

Time to Winterize!

Freezing temperatures are in the forecast so it’s time to turn off your outdoor faucets.

  1. Turn the water off from inside your unit.
  2. Open the outside faucet to drain remaining water. Leave the faucet in the open position over the winter. 
  3. Hoses should be removed and stored for the winter to prevent any remaining water in the hose from traveling back into the pipes and freezing. 

In most units the shut-off valve for the backyard faucet is under the kitchen sink.  You’ll find the shut-off valve for the front faucet in the basement next to, or above, the hot water heater. If you’re in a B-building the lower unit’s front and back shut off valve is in the laundry room.