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EcoLawn Trial


Bee hives on campus

Two bee hives are installed on the front lawn of the Governor's Mansion on the west Capitol Campus. View information regarding the 2017 honey bee hives.

On east campus, DES grounds staff have installed three mason bee houses on the plaza. Mason bees are native to Washington. They do not produce honey but are very efficient in transferring pollen from plant-to-plant.

The Department of Enterprise Services conducted an 'ecolawn' pilot project on parts of the Capitol Campus grounds in 2016.

Enterprise Services conducted the pilot project as part of a broader effort to:

  • Reduce water, fertilizer and pesticide use on the campus.
  • Reduce the amount of contaminants in campus stormwater runoff.
  • Increase the biological and visual diversity of the campus grounds.
  • Put in place parts of the historic 1920s Olmsted landscape plan for the west campus that called for a meadow-like transition area between nearby streets and the formal landscaping near the Capitol Building. See the Historic Landscape Preservation Plan for details.

As a result, DES groundskeepers received a 2016 Innovations in State Government award for their use of environmentally-friendly landscape practices on the Capitol Campus from the National Association of State Chief Administrators.

2017 program

In 2017, Enterprise Services is continuing many of the green practices throughout the campus that worked well and also saved on labor and resources like:

  • Mulching
  • Using cardboard instead of chemicals to suppress weed growth in landscape beds
  • Using wood chips left over from campus tree trimmings as mulch to support shrub and tree health instead of commercial fertilizer
  • Selecting drought tolerant and pest resistant plants when new or replacement plants are required
  • Hand weeding to control easy-to-remove weeds in landscape beds
  • Pruning to promote a dense covering of landscape plant foliage, which naturally shades and out competes weeds

In addition, Enterprise Services continues to expand the ecolawn program on the East Campus to improve aesthetics and promote continued increases in the variety of bees and other pollinators, including:

  • Planting more ecoturf
  • Planting more wildflower areas

Enterprise Services also is actively working to increase the density and vigor of turfgrass on the campus over time to naturally crowd out and suppress weeds so that the application of herbicides can be reduced.

Enterprise Services adopted its approach for 2017 based on:

  • What the agency learned from the 2016 pilot project
  • Feedback that Enterprise Services actively sought from the public

See the Campus Grounds Management Plan that details the strategies implemented in the Fall of 2016.

About ecolawns

There are several types of ecolawns but the term generally refers to the use of slow-growing grasses and low perennials. Generally, the species of grasses grown in an ecolawn are different than those used in a conventional lawn. An ecolawn requires less mowing, irrigation, fertilizer and pesticide use compared to a typical lawn. Since an ecolawn is mowed infrequently, or not at all, another benefit is less organic material being sent to a landfill or composting facility.