Lawn and Landscape Professionals Volunteer for the 27th Renewal & Remembrance - The Edge from the National Association of Landscape Professionals

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Lawn and Landscape Professionals Volunteer for the 27th Renewal & Remembrance

Photo: Jill Odom/NALP

Nearly 500 landscape and lawn professionals volunteered their skills and time during the 27th Renewal & Remembrance event at Arlington National Cemetery and the National Mall on July 17, 2023.

“Landscape and lawn care professionals love to give back and the annual Renewal & Remembrance event allows them to use their horticulture skills to care for some of America’s most important green spaces,” says Britt Wood, NALP’s CEO.

Over the past 27 years, NALP members have contributed more than 50,000 hours of volunteer labor at Arlington National Cemetery and more recently the National Mall.

At the opening ceremony at the Washington Monument, Mike Bogan, NALP’s president, encouraged volunteers to make the most of this opportunity and privilege to serve. He says that the National Mall is an ”enduring embodiment of America’s freedom.”

Photo: Jill Odom/NALP

Despite it being a humid day in July, 275 landscape professionals went about their projects with fervor. They seeded grass near the Washington Monument and spread 175,000 lbs. of mulch six inches deep to recreate a forest effect under groves of trees near the Monument and at the Tidal Basin.

The introduction of wood chips facilitates biodegradation and soil amendment while benefiting the surrounding ecosystem, including insects, pollinators, soil microbes and the trees.

Bruce Allentuck, president of Allentuck Landscaping Co., based in Rockville, Maryland, they have already seen trees getting healthier from past mulching projects with Renewal & Remembrance. He says the cherry trees by the Tidal Basin have never been mulched before.

Alex Berwager, North America customer quality manager for harvest, hay and forage products for CNH Industrial, says it means a lot to him to be able to preserve and refresh the National Mall as a veteran who served in the Pennsylvania National Guard. This is his second time attending the event.

“DC means a lot to me so it’s great to give back like this,” Berwager says. “Just having the opportunity to write your name into the landscape here.”

For Krisjan Berzins, founder of Kingstowne Lawn & Landscape, based in Alexandria, Virginia, it was his first time participating in Renewal and Remembrance and he brought six employees from his sales team.

Photo: Jill Odom/NALP

“Our production guys do this all the time, and I’d like to include them in the future, but I wanted it to be something for staff that doesn’t typically do this and also appreciate the physicality,” Berzins says. “There’s also camaraderie with my staff, staff that I don’t see very often because we’re always doing our own things. It’s nice to ironically get together here and actually do something together instead of working and rarely ever seeing each other except for an occasional meeting.”

Meanwhile, more than 200 volunteers worked on various projects at Arlington National Cemetery, including installing lightning protection for five historic trees, irrigation repair and upgrades, turf enhancements, paver installations and repair work around the Columbarium and other locations and mulching around 50 trees.

Ben Hefty, a territory manager for Corteva Agriscience, says at the irrigation project, they installed pressure regulation valves from 40 to 60 psi to ensure the irrigation system operates efficiently.

Photo: Jill Odom/NALP

“It’s good just to be out here and do some work and meet with some other people in the industry that you never would because I’m actually on the chemical side of the business so it’s cool to work on irrigation,” Hefty says. “It’s also nice being able to walk by and read the headstones, see where they’re from and when they passed away. It’s sacred ground.”

Hefty encourages others to attend the event.

“You’ll come back,” Hefty says. “You’ll make it a priority to come back once you go one time. I can tell you that. I don’t know if I have the words for it but experience it and you’ll understand why people have come back year after year.”
NALP also hosted a Children’s Program at ANC. This year the children had a history lesson with a historian from ANC at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and then went to the Civil War Memorial area and planted annuals in five different beds. Doug McDuff with Landscape America led a horticultural lesson, teaching the children how to properly plant the annuals.

“We had almost 30 children this year, and they were all participating, all just getting down and dirty and asking, ‘How can I help more?’ ‘Are there more for me to plant?’” says Jenn Myers, executive director of the NALP Foundation & senior director of workforce development.

Photo: Jill Odom/NALP

Afterward, Myers instructed the children on how to safely and properly cut with pruners and let them select flowers to make arrangements that they placed in front of headstones.

“We encourage them to read the stone and think about the person and when they get home, look up the person and learn about them,” Myers says. “It’s just a great way for them to really reach out and touch history.”

Many thanks to our platinum partners: Aspire Software, Caterpillar, John Deere, Greenworks Commercial, New Holland Construction and SiteOne Landscape Supply.

Thank you for the additional support from our silver partners: Envu, Ewing, Exmark, Gravely, Hunter, STIHL, and Vermeer. Not only do our partners support this event monetarily but they also provide equipment and volunteer alongside our landscape contractor members.

Jill Odom

Jill Odom is the senior content manager for NALP.