An urban oasis established in 1863, Woodlawn Cemetery is a Bronx, New York-based, 400-acre property with more than 310,000 individuals interred on its grounds. Woodlawn was named a National Historic Landmark in 2011 and receives more than 100,000 visitors annually.
Two-thousand ornately decorated private mausoleums, burial sites, and monuments dot the landscape, housing well-known individuals including Joseph Pulitzer, J.C. Penney, Herman Melville and jazz greats Miles Davis and Duke Ellington. In addition to architecture, the historic cemetery includes 6,300 trees, including five of New York’s “great trees,” as designated by the New York City Parks Department, as well as an arboretum with more than 140 tree varieties that serves as an outdoor environmental classroom.
Many trees on Woodlawn Cemetery’s property had not received consistent, basic care over a 30-year period. With regular tours of Woodlawn Cemetery taking place throughout the year, proactively keeping trees healthy, attractive and safe became a priority. Preserving historic architecture was also important, and healthy trees posed less of a threat to the mausoleums and monuments on the property.
To proactively manage the tree care, Davey’s ecological consultants were called in to conduct a tree inventory and assessment on all the trees on the property, compiling a report and maintenance workbook for the client. This informed the client on the state of their trees, so they could more easily prioritize work and address safety risk.
To return the landscape to its glory days of the past, the crew accessed Columbia University archives and worked with Woodlawn Cemetery’s director of historical services to study the history of the site and get a sense of the original landscape. This information was used to incorporate heirloom plants along with newer varieties that flower at different times of the year or to offer texture variety to blend the types of plants together.
A dedicated crew of approximately 20 commercial landscape professionals are on the property five to six days per week. Davey’s team leader is in contact with the client as often as necessary to review the event schedule and prioritize various maintenance needs—a big differentiator on this site and an important benefit for the client.