Lose the lawn: D.C. offers free plants to replace turf or pavement

To help limit polluting stormwater runoff, D.C.’s Department of the Environment is offering city residents free edible plants and pollinator plants to replace their turf and pavement.

DOE also has scheduled two free workshops on landscape-maintenance techniques ─ including the use of rain barrels, permeable pavement, and rain gardens ─ to capture stormwater before it enters streams and rivers.

Registration deadline for both the plant give-away and landscape-maintenance workshops is Wednesday, March 26.

For each 100 square feet of turf or pavement that residents agree to replace, they will be given topsoil and 15 shrubs or perennials or one fruit or nut tree.

“The removal of turf and pavement allows for the revegetation with trees and plants, which capture rainwater and allow it to soak into ground,” DOE states. “Plants also grow roots through the soils, making the soil spongy so that in time, even more water can infiltrate.”

Plants available are: raspberry, blackberry, dewberry, blueberry, strawberry, lemon balm, oregano, sage, rosemary, thyme, lavender, mint, fennel, asparagus, mallow, coneflower, and bachelors buttons.

Trees available are: shadberry, apple, fig, persimmon, peach, and pecan.

Residents who register for the plant-giveaway must submit a photo of the turf or pavement they intend to remove, followed by a second photo showing its subsequent removal in preparation for planting. The second photo is due on April 26, one week before the plant pickup, which is scheduled for 10 a.m. to noon on May 3 at the Anacostia Park skate pavilion, 1900 Anacostia Drive S.E. Free topsoil also will be available for participants to pick up from three area retailers between April 11 and May 11.

The plant-giveaway is funded by a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency under the Clean Water Act.

DOE’s one-hour landscape-maintenance workshops for city residents will be at 10:30 a.m. on April 19 at the Takoma Park Recreation Center, 300 Van Buren St. N.W., and at 10:30 a.m. on May 3 at the Anacostia Park skate pavilion.

To register for either the plant-giveaway or the landscape-maintenance workshops, go to https://octo.quickbase.com/db/biraci36s.

Further information is available from Leah Lemoine at [email protected] or (202) 654-6131.


─ Wayne Savage


For further reading:

Turf or pavement removal program (D.C. DOE flier) (Note: Pickup of plants is no longer available at the Takoma Park Recreation Center.)

Landscape-maintenance workshops (D.C. DOE flier)