Meadows Pilot Project

Next steps: A Marvelous Meadows Restoration Project

Indian-grass and Purple Top

photo courtesy of  ‘It Just Comes Naturally’ blog  

The meadows of Dumbarton Oaks Park are making a comeback! After successfully launching their Signature Project in the two acre historic beech grove, Dumbarton Oaks Park Conservancy has embarked on a Meadows Restoration Pilot Project. In building up to this stage of restoration, neighbors and friends of the Park have been volunteering with the Conservancy and National Park Service by hand-removing damaging, invasive vines and grasses from the meadows for the last two years. Their dedicated work has been invaluable in protecting the  important meadows feature of the last remaining Beatrix Farrand designed wild garden.

Now, it is time for next steps.  Two small meadows in the Park will soon be transformed from non-native invasive stilt grass and weeds to a diverse mixture of warm season native grasses.  During this three-year process, the 1.3 acre area will be fenced off while the Conservancy and NPS restore the meadows to healthy grasslands that will support wildlife, suppress weeds, and curb erosion.

This project will proceed in several stages.  First, Park Service approved specialists will treat the fenced meadow area twice in June with with water-safe, low-toxicity herbicides.  Shortly after, in preparation for seeding the meadows, the invasive vegetation will be raked and removed.  And come July, the meadows will be seeded (the best part!) with a healthy native seed mixture designed to be self-sustaining, low-maintenance, and beautiful to behold.

Larry Weaner, nationally renowned landscape designer and meadows expert, is working with the Conservancy to lead this effort in converting these damaged areas to healthy, sustainable grasslands for all of us to enjoy.  Under his guidance, the restored meadows will provide a rare habitat in the District for meadow nesting birds and other fauna.  Once restored, the meadows will continue to flourish and thrive, playing an important part in preventing further erosion and storm-water damage to the hillsides, creek banks, and trails of the Park.

But in order for this vital project to be an on-going success, the Conservancy will need continued  community support.  For more information about these restoration efforts or to learn how you can help, please visit the Park or the Conservancy’s website (, or contact DOPC outreach and communications chair Lindsey Milstein at For more information about herbicides and vegetation management in Rock Creek Park, contact Chief of Resources Management Nick Bartolomeo at 202-895-6010, or by email at



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