Dumbarton Oaks Park

By Marcello De Vitis in collaboration with Amanda Shull, Dumbarton Oaks Park Conservancy Project Manager

This 27-acre park is situated in the historic Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C. Designed between 1920 and 1940, it is considered a masterpiece of Beatrix Farrand, America’s first woman landscape architect. Once part of a private estate, the Park was donated in 1940 to the American people. Today it is managed by the National Park Service (NPS), which, is working to restore the landscape which has suffered from the effects of urban storm water runoff and invasive plant species, in partnership with Dumbarton Oaks Park Conservancy.


Seeding of meadow  (photo courtesy: Dumbarton Oaks Park Conservancy)

Seeding of meadow

(photo courtesy: Dumbarton Oaks Park Conservancy)

Meadow post-restoration

Meadow post-restoration

In 2014 the Conservancy began working with NPS, and volunteers to restore the Park’s five meadows. Volunteer labor was used to clear invasive plants and sow a mixture of native warm-season grasses. Native seed collected from the Park was used to supplement a seed mix designed by well-known meadow expert Larry Weaner. The use of volunteers together with outreach activities (e.g. involving school groups in invasive plant removal) make this park, and the two managing organizations, a perfect example of the integration of environmental and cultural restoration within the urban ecosystem.


(cover photo, copyright: Jim Osen)