For more than two decades, the crews of Maryland-based Chapel Valley Landscape have taken special care in managing the grounds of the nation’s largest Roman Catholic church.
On Wednesday, Sept. 23, Pope Francis is scheduled to say an outdoor mass at the Washington church, the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.
Not surprisingly, Chapel Valley Landscape has been extremely busy in preparation for the Pope’s visit, in part because the site requires some special modifications to accommodate the outdoor event.
The Wednesday afternoon mass, which will take place on the east portico of the basilica, is expected to attract more than 30,000 people. In order to accommodate the visitors, Chapel Valley has spent the past two and a half weeks creating a special 3.6-acre outdoor space.
Both maintenance and construction teams from the company were required to fulfill the extraordinary landscape requirements.
The work included the removal of trees, shrubs and flowers – all of which have been placed in a temporary holding area – to make room for the stage. Once the event is finished, the plants will be put back exactly as they were before.
While the stage is being installed, an enhancement crew from Chapel Valley will be on site to take care of any pruning or plant material requirements. In addition, the crew will prune mature trees to improve sight views.
There will also be a water truck at the site because some zones of the existing irrigation system had to be turned off to protect electrical equipment that will be used on stage. All turf area and plants around the stage and its jumbo screen will be hand-watered in lieu of the standard irrigation.
“From tree transplanting, regular maintenance to watering, the grounds need to be a showcase site – even throughout all the foot traffic and construction,” said Chapel Valley’s property manager, Danny Wenner.
Wenner, who has been attending weekly meetings for two months in preparation for the Pope’s visit, acknowledged that the challenges at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception have been formidable and now “the pressure is on.”
He said Chapel Valley has “a great staff in place” and Wenner is confident the final stages of the job will be completed just as they were designed.
Established in 1968, Chapel Valley Landscape Company is a second-generation, family-owned and operated company that offers design, installation and maintenance services for residential and commercial properties. In addition to its Maryland locations, the company has operations in the Mid-Atlantic and Southeastern regions.