Caring for historic landscapes requires skills beyond basic maintenance and horticultural practices. Understanding and applying these skills is essential to properly maintain our nation’s most significant sites. NCPTT’s historic landscape program is advancing knowledge of site-sensitive landscape maintenance practices through research and training.
NCPTT’s Historic Landscape and Material Conservation programs are collaborating to study of the effects of herbicides on historic stone and masonry. NCPTT intern Caitlin Oshida initiated the study in June. To inform the project’s research design, Oshida surveyed National Park Service (NPS) facility managers. The survey focused on the types of herbicides typically used by the parks, how the herbicide is applied, and what types of masonry might be affected by herbicide application. Based on the results of the survey, the study will test the effects of Roundup® and Garlon 4® herbicides on historic brick, limestone, granite, and concrete. Caitlin will continue the project as her thesis topic for graduate work in the University of Georgia’s historic preservation program.
Following a meeting held last fall at Hampton National Historic Site, NCPTT and the Olmsted Center for Landscape Preservation (OCLP) partnered to host a roundtable to discuss creation of an historic landscape preservation maintenance curriculum. This year’s meeting was held at Monticello’s Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies, near Charlottesville, Va. Participants included NPS and non-NPS site managers, maintenance supervisors, landscape architects, and educators. This year’s meeting focused on identifying core preservation maintenance practice training needs for field staff. Core universal skills were identified:
- condition assessment
- application of historic maintenance techniques
- managing for character
- and resource protection from predictable impacts.
Next steps include lesson plan creation for each of the four universal skills and a survey to confirm anecdotal evidence that landscape preservation maintenance skills are in demand.
At the request of Cane River Creole National Historical Park (CARI), NCPTT is creating a training video that addresses landscape maintenance practices at historic sites. The video focuses on how to maintain the landscape without damaging historic built features and trees. Topics covered include use of mulch, lawn mowers, string trimmers, and herbicides. Although primarily filmed at CARI, techniques included in the video are applicable to many historic sites. Expected completion date is October, 2010. The historic landscapes program and the materials conservation program also partnered to live-stream the lecture “Addressing Landscape Maintenance in Cemeteries” on April 8, 2010. The one-hour webinar provided an overview of landscape maintenance issues and their impact on cemetery historic resources. Topics included landscape documentation, replacing key features, removing invasive plants, mowing and trimming, tree care, and addressing conflicts between historic vegetation and built features. The webinar is downloadable from the NCPTT website. NCPTT is partnering with the OCLP and the George Washington Birthplace National Monument (GEWA) to host a three-day historic tree preservation workshop in Fredericksburg, Va., Nov. 30 – Dec. 2, 2010. The workshop is intended for landscape managers, maintenance staff, and volunteers. Workshop topics will include the following:
- tree biology and structure,
- condition assessment
- methods to sustain tree health and stability
- tree documentation and dating methods
- changing maintenance practices as trees age
- and tree removal and replacement.
NCPTT is also developing an iPhone app that will allow field staff at historic sites to inventory, perform condition assessments, and recommend treatments for individual trees. This app is the first of a host of apps NCPTT anticipates developing. The combined apps will form a landscape survey project that will allow sites to record landscape feature information in the field. Future apps may include buildings and structures, archeological sites, roads and trails, and additional vegetation types.