Landscaping at Howard University Hospital: A Fresh Urban Update and More
As a busy landscaping account manager always on the move, Anthony Fuller also knows the value of standing still, and observing.
That’s when he notices patients in wheelchairs relaxing in the cool respite of towering shade trees at Howard University Hospital. And pausing to inhale the fragrance of the rose bushes.
“I’m there weekly, and I do a lot of observing,” Fuller says. “It’s a great way to get feedback.
“Yes, I want to make our customer — the hospital — happy,” he says. “But I also want to make their customers happy.”
Level Green Landscaping maintains the grounds at Howard University Hospital, one of the most comprehensive health care facilities in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area.
Fuller walks us through the highlights.
Celebrating a Rich History
Level Green has maintained the Howard University Hospital grounds since 2006.
But the site’s rich history dates back long before that, to 1862. Together, the Howard University College of Medicine and the hospital have served as a training ground for many of the nation's top African-American physicians.
The hospital’s current DC site used to be a football stadium, Fuller says, the first home of the Washington Redskins.
“I actually attended a game there,” says Fuller, a DC native.
Have a Look Around
Much of that original stadium turf was replaced with parking lots, Fuller says, but there’s still a nice-sized lawn out front, so the hospital’s contract includes a comprehensive turf program to feed the lawn and deter weeds.
Lots of large trees provide welcome shade and beauty but require regular pruning, both for tree health and to remove any dead and dying branches that could topple.
Welcoming terraces, including one off the hospital cafeteria, include benches and large shade trees that offer cool respite on hot summer days.
“Think of your last hospital visit,” Fuller says. “The highlight of your day is to walk or be pushed in a wheelchair outside into nature and landscaping. My goal is to help create that daily experience so that the person battling whatever they’re battling gets some relaxation or rejuvenation by being out in nature.”
Updating Tired Landscaping
The property’s 20-year-old landscaping needed an update.
“They had a lot of evergreens like boxwood and holly, a lot of hedges,” Fuller says. “It wasn’t very showy. Over 20 years things die back, and get overgrown. It was time for a change.”
Two years ago new management — Adventist HealthCare — took over and made a commitment to upgrade the landscaping, Fuller says.
Level Green has completed phase two of a four-phase improvement plan that includes new landscape design and additional planters.
The new design features plants with appealing color and texture. Graceful ornamental grasses wave in the breeze and help draw attention to signage.
Sturdy standout perennials like heuchera and Russian sage, three varieties of coneflower, and stunning roses mix with pretty annuals to star on corner beds.
There are 2,000 annuals on the property, Fuller says, brightening the hospital grounds spring through fall with bursts of red and purple, a salute to the Howard University colors of red and blue.
Crape myrtles line the front plaza, offering a welcoming show. Several large planters showcase small trees and seasonal annuals, too.
“The CEO is very involved in plant selection, which I absolutely love,” Fuller says. “Ultimately, she’s the one I have to please.”
Keeping Things Tidy
“A hospital requires a manicured look,” Fuller says. Meticulous weekly maintenance is crucial.
Crews cover the property, mowing, trimming, weeding, edging, pruning, deadheading, always on the lookout for potential safety issues.
Fertilizer and weed control keep the turf healthy, green and wow-worthy. Regular maintenance on the irrigation system out front ensures everything stays well-watered.
“This hospital property is open 24/7. It has to be safe,” Fuller says. “We’ve done a lot of clean up to make it safe from above, clearing out dead wood from big trees so they don’t drop during every storm.
"Your liability is what you can’t see,” he says. “You can see the sidewalk you’re walking on. You can’t see that limb overhead 10 or 20 feet in the air that’s about to drop because it’s dead and decaying.”
The Seasonal Snow Plan
Snow and ice aren’t options at a busy hospital, Fuller says.
“There are ambulances and emergency vehicles constantly,” Fuller says. “There are shift changes at 2 am. Nurses park in the parking garage across the street. We make sure that route for them is as safe as possible.
“If the forecast says wet and cold, we’re on site,” Fuller says. “There doesn’t have to be snow.”
Howard University Hospital has a seasonal snow and ice management contract. That means they pay a set amount for snow and ice services for the season — no matter how much snow falls or how many visits to their property are needed.
The benefit? The customer always knows exactly how much to budget for snow and ice services.
“It’s great for clients like this that are no nonsense about snow and ice,” Fuller says.
Installing Holiday Cheer
Level Green installs holiday lighting on the hospital grounds to add a shimmer of festive cheer.
The site’s 29 crape myrtles each get 400 sparkling LED lights. Lights are also added to five large planters and 2 15-foot Japanese maples.
“This year we installed a live Christmas tree in the emergency room for staff to decorate,” Fuller says.
Crews also installed a live evergreen tree with its root ball in a bed in back of the hospital that can stay permanently if the management decides to keep it.
The Challenges of Urban Landscape Maintenance
The hospital is on a busy street, surrounded by the restaurants and bars that always exist near a university.
That means debris that crews need to collect before they mow and trim.
Crews installed rodent wire buried beneath plants to deter urban rats from burrowing.
“We dig the plants up, install heavy duty screens 8-10 inches down,” Fuller says. “It discourages their activity.
“It’s an urban environment,” Fuller says. “Things happen. I was there yesterday and someone, maybe in a 4-wheeler, literally drove up onto the grass and did donuts on the turf. We’ll have to do some seeding this spring.”
A Relationship of Trust
“They’re one of my favorite accounts because of the relationship we have with the director of operations and the CEO,” Fuller says. “We’ve developed a relationship that goes beyond vendor and customer. They see us as a resource now.”
That means the hospital asks Fuller for advice and help that goes beyond turf care, tree pruning, and installing plants and flowers.
“We’ve helped them with resurfacing parking lots, power washing, parking lot bollards, installing iron fencing, removing large trees,” Fuller says.
Level Green works with trusted subcontractors in all those areas, connecting the hospital with companies to do quality work.
“Pretty much anything they needed, they’ve allowed us to be part of it,” Fuller says. “It shows they trust us. As an account manager, that’s the optimum situation, when a customer trusts you enough to ask about other needs.”
Trust Your Hospital Landscaping to Level Green
Fuller knows everybody involved in a hospital setting needs peace of mind — from the nervous patients who check in to the property managers who have a lot more to deal with than landscaping.
“Landscaping is part of the care they give their clients,” he says, “even if they’re just looking out the window.”
We provide commercial property maintenance for properties throughout Washington DC, Maryland and parts of Virginia. Level Green Landscaping services commercial properties like hospitals, office buildings, homeowner associations (HOAs), mixed use, condominiums, retail, institutions and government entities.
Contact us today at 202-544-0968 or by filling out our form online to see how we can transform your commercial landscape. You can also schedule a free consultation with one of our team members.
We’d love to hear from you.
"My goal is to help create that daily experience so that the person battling whatever they’re battling gets some relaxation or rejuvenation by being out in nature.”Anthony Fuller
Level Green Landscaping