Throughout the country, special places commemorate significant events, activities, and people
in our nation's history. These places are diverse and include parks and parkways, gardens,
homes of famous people, battlefields, rural settlements, and early industrial centers. Every
year, millions of people visit these places to learn more about our cultural heritage. Much of
this learning experience is shaped by the landscape, which reflects an earlier time. These
historic landscapes create lasting impressions. Yet, without ongoing maintenance, historic
landscapes quickly lose their character and no longer educate future generations about their
Historic landscapes are composed of many features that contribute to their overall character
and significance. Each feature is shaped by both the natural environment and a history of
maintenance. The height of a hedge, the flowers within a perennial garden, the condition of a
fence, the repair of a stone wall, and the width and surface of a carriage road, are all examples
of details in the landscape that are influenced by maintenance practices.
The maintenance staff responsible for the long-term care of a historic landscape are
faced with many challenges. Some landscape features, in particular vegetation, change dramatically
over time, while other features, such as walls and paths, may gradually erode or
disappear. The maintenance staff must address issues of decline, wear, decay and damage in
order to perpetuate the character of the place.
This document offers a framework for a maintenance operations plan that focuses on
preserving the character of a historic landscape. Throughout the document, the term preservation
maintenance describes the practice of monitoring change, controlling growth, replacing
in-kind, and minimizing disturbance in the landscape to ensure that features, such as vegetation,
paths, walls, and other landscape furnishings, are not lost and the character of a place is
not compromised. The guiding philosophy is that all existing landscape features should be
preserved until the history of the landscape is fully researched and documented.