National Mall lawn restoration project beginning its final stages

The new lawn being laid down on the National Mall has a special irrigation system. (WTOP/Kristi King) (WTOP/Kristi King)
"To give the sod time to establish roots, fencing  should come down early next year," spokesman Mike Litterst said. (WTOP/Kristi King)
“We put in cisterns that can collect 250,000 gallons of rainwater, so we use rainwater to water it now — not the city’s water system,” National Park Service spokesman Mike Litterst said. (WTOP/Kristi King) (WTOP/Kristi King)
National Park Service spokesman Mike Litterst says this five year project ts coming in under budget . It'll wrap up in about five weeks. To give the sod time to establish roots, fencing  should come down early next year. (WTOP/Kristi King)
Litterst said the five year project is coming in under budget. It’ll wrap up in about five weeks. To give the sod time to establish roots, fencing will stay up until early next year. (WTOP/Kristi King) (WTOP/Kristi King)
"When it's finished, we'll have from 3rst street all the way to 14th street lush green grass befitting America's front yard," Litterst said. (WTOP/Kristi King)
Litterst says the lush green lawn being laid on the National Mall will need some time. (Courtesy National Park Service) (WTOP/Kristi King)
Crews are seen laying down sod on the lawn of the National Park. (Courtesy National Park Service)
“When it’s finished we’ll have, from 3rd Street all the way to 14th Street, lush green grass befitting America’s front yard,” Litterst said. (Courtesy National Park Service) (Courtesy National Park Service)
Crews are seen laying down sod on the lawn of the National Park. (Courtesy National Park Service)
“When it’s done, you’re not immediately going to be able to kick your shoes off and go for a walk,” Litterst said. (Courtesy National Park Service) (Courtesy National Park Service)
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"To give the sod time to establish roots, fencing  should come down early next year," spokesman Mike Litterst said. (WTOP/Kristi King)
National Park Service spokesman Mike Litterst says this five year project ts coming in under budget . It'll wrap up in about five weeks. To give the sod time to establish roots, fencing  should come down early next year. (WTOP/Kristi King)
"When it's finished, we'll have from 3rst street all the way to 14th street lush green grass befitting America's front yard," Litterst said. (WTOP/Kristi King)
Crews are seen laying down sod on the lawn of the National Park. (Courtesy National Park Service)
Crews are seen laying down sod on the lawn of the National Park. (Courtesy National Park Service)

WASHINGTON — Fresh-cut sod from New Jersey is being laid down on the National Mall’s lawn over the next five weeks between 7th and 14th Street Northwest as it enters the final stages of the restoration project.

“Lush green grass — befitting America’s front yard,” said National Park Service spokesman Mike Litterst.

“It’s going to be an unbelievable scene that goes 11 blocks the entire length of the National Mall, in that green [color] that it should be.”

To allow time for the new sod to take root, fencing will continue to block access to the lawn area until early 2017.

The $40 million project began in 2011 and is expected to come in under budget.

Some details about the new lawn:

  • Damaged topsoil 4-5 feet deep had to be removed first.
  • The new, specially engineered soil resists compaction.
  • Cisterns below the surface hold 250,000 gallons of rainwater.
  • The irrigation system uses cistern rainwater instead of city water.

The first segment of the lawn restoration project, from 3rd to 7th Street along the Mall, was completed in 2013.

“It still looks like the outfield of Fenway Park right now,” Litterst said.

Last year and this year, the Smithsonian Folklife Festival has had smaller-than-usual acreage to accommodate the final segments of the Mall’s lawn restoration project.

Litterst says that by 2017, the summer festival will be able to return to its much larger footprint.

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