Plant Health Care

Pest Management

Emerald Ash Borer Strikes Montgomery Parks


The Emerald Ash Borer, a non-native invasive beetle from Asia, has been detected in Montgomery County. This destructive beetle will take down all ash trees in the county within as few as three years. Montgomery Parks is proactively addressing the issue. The safety of park patrons is the number one priority. Find more details at the links below.

Visit these third party websites for additional information on the Emerald Ash Borer:

To request more information and/or a presentation to your homeowner association, community group or friends group please contact Senior Urban Forester Colter Burkes at

Integrated Pest Management

A Green Management Coordinator position was established spring 2014, to develop and implement cohesive staff training programs in advanced Integrated Pest Management to reduce weeds, pests and pathogens while minimizing pesticide use throughout Montgomery County parks and recreational facilities. This program is supported by funding from the permit for protection of water quality. Click here to learn more!

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Plant Health in Parks

Montgomery Parks has long been a leader in innovative, sustainable, environmentally sensitive plant health principles. We follow Integrated Pest Management (IPM) practices to address weed, insect and disease pests that threaten the health of our plants, forests and ecosystems. IPM combines many strategies including resistant varieties; sanitation & mechanical control; good nutrition; environmental modification; introduction of beneficial parasitoids and predators; and pesticides when necessary.

We observe nature to thoroughly understand the cycles and interactions between plants, their environment and pest organisms so we can correct imbalances. New pests introduced from other regions of the country or from outside of the US can pose a significant threat to our native plants and habitats because their populations often rapidly increase.

Visit the American Public Gardens Association webpage, if you would like to learn more about emerging plant health threats and how you can be a plant hero.

Green Waste Management

Our staff Horticulturist coordinates the collection, composting, and processing of all green waste produced on Parkland. In 2014 alone, over 1480 tons of green waste was recycled, which is just less than 3 million pounds.

The Green Waste Management Program composts and processes all green waste produced by park maintenance operations including landscape debris, invasive plant materials, leaf litter, etc. We regularly test and maintain high quality compost, mulch, and topsoil to ensure compliance with regulations.

The Compost is used for planting, turf renovation, erosion control projects, and in nursery production, field lining, and compost tea. The mulch and aged woodchips are used on tree planting and preservation projects.

This program reduces disposal fees at the transfer station and reduces material purchases for park projects. All products produced from this program are utilized in-house for park projects only. It is not available for public purchase.

Tree Planting Projects

Parkland is subject to stresses from intensive recreational use, development, disturbance to riparian buffers, soil compaction, damage from deer browsing, seasonal storms, and invasion from non-native pest species and diseases.  As a result of these natural and man-induced stresses, the Park’s Arboriculture Section removes approximately 700 to 1,000 hazard trees annually.

As a Parks Department, we strive to restore tree canopy for the benefit of our Park visitors and the local environment.  Staff in Parks annually plant and maintain approximately 1500-3000 landscape size trees throughout the Park System each year to compensate for the annual loss.

Tree Planting and Pope Farm

Trees are planted to meet the following needs: shade and screening, aesthetics, wildlife and pollinator food, nectar and nesting sources, canopy and stream restoration, erosion control, storm water management.

The trees and shrubs are produced at Pope Farm Nursery in Gaithersburg, the Commission’s sole producer of woody and herbaceous plant material for county-wide horticulture programs.  Approximately 70 acres of the Pope Farm are utilized for field growing larger trees and shrubs with a focus on native and improved cultivars which have proven dependable and able to thrive within the park system.  Many of the plants grown are difficult to locate or unavailable from commercial nurseries.

The plant material produced at the Pope Farm meets the unique needs and demands of the park system and plants are not for sale to the public. There are advantages to having an in-house growing, planting and aftercare program, such as:

  • Locally grown plants provide better regional adaptability.
  • Plant material grown in similar soils and climatic conditions will better adapt to new planting locations and be more likely to survive and thrive.

Plant material harvested and transplanted into the park system receives a two year aftercare program administered by horticulture crews including watering, structural pruning, integrated pest management, weed control and mulching.  This program is essential to the long term health and survival of trees county-wide.

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Last Updated: January 18, 2018