The Importance of Maintenance: An Interview with Cheryl Corson

The new Chesapeake Bay Landscape Professional Certification Program is working to educate landscape professionals on conservation landscaping, stormwater management, and how to maintain projects for long-term success. Level 1 participants are asked to utilize a variety of different study materials and attend an in-person practicum before taking the certification test. One of the study materials is the newly developed, “CBLP Sustainable Landscapes Maintenance Manual” written by Cheryl Corson. This manual provides a condensed review of the most important landscape maintenance considerations. Cheryl was recently interviewed about her experience and the need for this manual.

Cheryl Corson, RLA, ASLA, is a landscape architect and writer in private practice in the greater D.C. metro area. She also instructs landscape architecture licensure candidates in preparing for the design, stormwater management, and construction sections of the LARE exam. Cheryl holds a bachelor’s degree in Public Administration, and received her master’s degree in Landscape Architecture from the Harvard Graduate School of Design.

Q: Can you provide some detail on your background? How did you end up in this work?

In my private practice I incorporate stormwater management practices in virtually every project. One example is the demonstration rain garden I designed for the new carousel area at the Smithsonian National Zoo, installed in 2014. Funded by the DD Department of Energy and Environment, this project cleans and detains water headed into Rock Creek, just downstream. Interpretive signage at the site encourages people to install rain gardens on their own properties.

Q: Why was a maintenance manual needed?

Some government agencies, like the D.C. Department of Energy & Environment, require maintenance plans as part of their stormwater managmenent requirements, such as DC’s Green Area Ratio (GAR) program. Although DC offers some maintenance guidance in its 2013 Stormwater Manual, it is difficult for contractors and designers to easily find and reference it. With all the stormwater management compliance activities occurring within the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, public officials are well aware that maintenance is the weakest link in enduring water treatment solutions. There are many manuals out there, though most are brief, and usually limited to BMP maintenance. This Manual covers the entire landscape maintenance context, including documentation, concise BMP evaluation forms, and other important landscape types which may contain sustainable practices such as historic properties and nature play spaces.

Q: How did you come up with the idea to develop a manual?

Two years ago, a private design client, a new townhome development near DC’s baseball stadium on the Anacostia River, wanted to put their maintenance contract out to bid with my help. The development was certified as LEED Silver, so it seemed logical to include “green” landscape specifications in the RFP. I was quite surprised to learn that no such specifications were available, and felt the need to try and rectify that situation. When DC’s DOEE and the emerging Chesapeake Bay Landscape Professional program turned out to have a similar need, the project came together rather quickly.

Q: How will this information be used by the certified landscape professionals?

Newly certified landscape professionals will hopefully use the information in the Manual to craft LMPs, (landscape maintenance plans) for their clients, using the most sustainable practices. They will be able to inform their clients about what these practices are, and gradually help make these a requested, and hopefully expected standard of care for all types of landscapes.

Q: Who else might find this manual helpful?

Hopefully, government agencies will also use this Manual to guide their Public Works departments and landscape maintenance staff in Parks & Recreation departments, Transportation departments, and School facilities staff responsible for landscape maintenance. It is also hoped that even when this work is not performed in house, it will become a reference specification for such work when contracted out by public agencies. An agency could put out an RFP, for example, stating that, “work shall be performed in accordance with the manual, “Sustainable Landscape Maintenance for the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.”

Q: Will it be distributed outside the certification program?

The Manual is a free pdf download to anyone interested in using it due to the public funding it received from the DC Department of Energy and Environment and the Low Impact Development Center.

Q: What are some of the biggest challenges you think landscape professionals face working in conservation? Opportunities?

The biggest challenge is also the biggest opportunity, which is the great need for skilled labor in maintaining the new American landscape in an ecologically and aesthetically responsible fashion. We have learned a great deal in the past ten to fifteen years about how to sustainably clean and retain stormwater on site, and how to design and build landscapes supportive to pollinators and other wildlife. Workforce development and client education will help sustain these goals. If this Manual is useful in creating a more informed workforce and a client base aware of the sustained benefits of such landscapes, it will have played a valuable role.

Add your voice 36

  1. landscaping says:

    this is very good interview… nice topic

  2. Nice conversation with Cheryl Corson!

  3. click says:

    It’s really good that every homeowner takes initiative in maintaining the wellness of their home. It will not only beautify it but also increase the property’s value.

  4. says:

    Nice flow of interview! Keep it up.

  5. What a very nice dialogue! Thanks

  6. Nice interview!Thanks for sharing this.

  7. Nice conversation. I learned a lot.

  8. jenny says:

    As someone who provides hvac services, I found this to be extremely helpful. It’s nice to hear insight from another local professional! Thanks for sharing.

  9. Great interview! I like how the importance of the manual is really focused on.

  10. Glad to know that they’re doing the needed maintenance. It’s really important for everyone to feel safe.

  11. Image result for what is the importance of
    It is required to effectively reduce waste and run an efficient, continuous manufacturing operation, business, or service operation. The cost of regular maintenance is very low when it is compared to the cost of a major breakdown at which time there is no production.

  12. Tim Higgins says:

    Great interview. Thanks for doing this.
    Tim H – Asphalt Repair Peoria Il

  13. Frey says: – You can’t just start anything without knowledge about it, and the best way to get knowledge is through manuals. She’s absolutely right.

  14. Dave Jent says:

    We work on landscape-critical projects all the time and have to control wastewater runoff. We’re very careful to manage that and capture dirty runoff water on many jobs. If you’re in the Tucson area and have a issues where you need power washing, give Tucson Pressure Wash a call. We’ll professionally clean your hardscaped areas and leave your landscaped areas just as we found them.

  15. Discussion of why Corson felt the maintenance manual was needed and how the project came to fruition.

  16. Frank says:

    Sustainable landscaping techniques are incredibly important in our business. We do all kinds of projects where we are replacing grass with stamped concrete patios to cut down on water use.

  17. Frey says: : Maintenance could be costly, and that’s exactly the reason why some abstain from it. But if only they could read this article!

  18. Les arbes says:

    As a three service company, we can’t agree more. You can visit us here

  19. Joe says:

    Maintenance is essential for long-term health and appearance of your land. It is much cheaper to maintain your lawn it than it is to attempt a repair after years of neglect.

  20. Mike says:

    I love the focus here on maintenance. Great viewpoints and a quality goal to help educate.
    Mike |

  21. Check Us says:

    Maintenance is preventing permanent damage. It is like washing your car. You have to do it regularly.

  22. House maintenance is really important especially if you are aiming to sell your house. But if you dont have plans though, maintenance is still a thing. You wouldnt want to stay in an unpleasing house, right. Anyways, you can visit our website ( ) just in case you would want to revamp your lawns into something awesome.

  23. Take a look says:

    I can see a future in this site, the thoughts are on point and the page itself is relevant and most importantly readers are loving it.

  24. Cheers! says:

    I love landscaping. Designing your own garden is satisfying, specially when you see the flowers or plants grow. But there is still so much to learn about it. Just like this article thought me today.

  25. Folsom Fencing and Deck Solutions is your premiere deck and fence contractor. Custom designs are our specialty. We create beautiful, long lasting, works of art that can be used and appreciated for years to come, Click Here. Located in Folsom CA, we produce the best quality of craftsmanship. From redwood to wrought iron, our designs will make you the envy of your neighbored, and give the elegant touch needed to complete your home’s design.

  26. This is such an important article! Thank you for sharing. We REALLY appreciate it over at
    home painting company

  27. I LOVE this article and am so glad that I found this site. Please keep posting great content!
    Marietta hardwood floors

  28. Carol R. says:

    Great information here. I used to do lawn work with this company but they never covered the details of this stuff so I could understand the importance of maintenance. Thanks for explaining.

  29. Thank you for this information.

Post a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes:

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong> 


Visit the CBLP website to download the Manual and other study materials.