National Greenscape Corridor
National Greenscape Corridor Maps

National Greenscape Corridor (NGC)

The National Greenscape Corridor (NGC) is a collaborative effort among Arlington National Cemetery, the National Mall, and the U. S. National Arboretum. NGC acknowledges the cultural, historic, societal, natural, and aesthetic importance of these sites while explaining the contributions that the landscape makes to the iconic nature of each site. The NGC seeks to promote public awareness of the use of turfgrass and its role in beautifying and protecting these historic places. Turfgrass in these settings within NGC, and across the country, contributes to the functional, cultural and historical significance of many sites, and the inputs used to maintain these areas produce many benefits to society.

While these spaces each serve a unique function, one commonality is that in each landscape, turfgrass is the predominant groundcover. Turfgrass has several characteristics important to all three areas: Turfgrass benefits the environment by filtering water and capturing nutrients, cooling surrounding areas, thereby reducing the heat island effect, and by holding the soil and reducing erosion. Turfgrass also provides aesthetic beauty which is important to our personal well-being as exposure to healthy green landscapes have been shown to reduce stress, foster hospital patient healing and improve neighborhoods. In addition, healthy, well-managed turfgrass is critical in reducing injuries to athletes on sports surfaces.

Finally, turfgrass is resource efficient and the best plant to use in these iconic spaces, while providing the aesthetic and functional capabilities which are crucial for these spaces. No other ground cover is as effective as turfgrass in providing a high-quality aesthetic while filtering water, reducing surface water runoff, cooling the surrounding areas, reducing noise and glare and providing a cover that can withstand foot traffic. Turfgrass can also be used to complement focal elements of a site (i.e. Arlington National Cemetery) or function as the focal element itself (i.e. the National Mall) in a visually inviting open space.

The Capital Space Plan, a collaborative effort of the National Capital Planning Commission, the National Park Service, and several District of Columbia agencies, addresses the quality and capacity of Washington’s parks outside of the National Mall and parks along the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers. The Capital Space plan, written in 2010, highlights the critical role parks play in achieving District and federal goals for a healthy, sustainable, and livable city. Capital Space provides a vision for a beautiful, high-quality, and unified park system for Washington and offers action-oriented ideas focused on key areas to help make the vision a reality. With this in mind, the partners in the development of the National Greenscape Corridor recognize that some of the goals of the NGC and the Capital Space plan could potentially lend themselves to coordination. In a time of smaller budget and personnel resources, inter-agency collaboration to achieve common goals can maximize efficiencies for projects.

The concept of a National Greenscape Corridor, beginning with the coordination of three very prominent DC locations (Arlington National Cemetery, the National Mall, and the National Arboretum), can provide a framework and springboard for expanding to include some of the city’s smaller, lesser-known parks to highlight the significance and societal benefits of those spaces.