Cen­tre­ville com­pany sup­plies lawn for WW II Me­mo­rial

Record Observer - - Busi­ness -

CEN­TRE­VILLE — Nes­tled be­tween the Lin­coln Me­mo­rial and the Wash­ing­ton Mon­u­ment, gran­ite pil­lars stand against the buzz of the na­tion’s cap­i­tal. On quiet mo­ments be­tween swells of tourists and sight­seers, the me­mo­rial has a par­tic­u­lar sense of pres­ence, drown­ing out white noise with the sound of bub­bling foun­tain wa­ter. Ev­ery as­pect of the me­mo­rial is de­signed to bring vis­i­tors to a place in which tragedies of the past are given a space to be re­mem­bered. Stand­ing at the heart of Wash­ing­ton D.C.’s Na­tional World War II Me­mo­rial, vis­i­tors re­al­ize ev­ery fea­ture tells a stor y.

No de­ci­sion re­gard­ing this space is made with­out thought and con­sid­er­a­tion. Man­aged by the Na­tional Parks Ser­vice, ev­ery de­sign el­e­ment, ever y pil­lar, even down the choice of grass se­lected for the land­scape, is eval­u­ated for the way the me­mo­rial is used by mem­bers of the pub­lic. As ev­i­dence of this, the Na­tional Parks Ser­vice re­cently in­stalled 11,000 square feet of PremierPRO Ber­muda grass, de­vel­oped by Dr. Milt En­gelke and Dr. Vir­ginia Lehman, and li­censed and mar­keted by Sod Pro­duc­tion Ser­vices of Charles City, Vir­ginia, as a part of a trial of turf grasses va­ri­eties across a num­ber of na­tional parks.

Bill Warpin­ski, co-owner and man­ager of Cen­tral Sod Farms of Mary­land Inc., a li­censed pro­ducer of PremierPRO Ber­muda grass based in Cen­tre­ville, grew the PremierPRO that is now in­cor­po­rated into the land­scape of the World War II Me­mo­rial. The grass was grown on the 1,200-acre sod farm that he and his brother, Tom, the com­pany’s pres­i­dent, run as busi­ness part­ners. Bill and Tom be­gan grow­ing PremierPRO in July 2015.

Warpin­ski was con­tacted by a con­trac­tor who he nor­mally sup­plies with sod for the Na­tional Mall and was told that the Parks Ser­vice wanted to try some­thing dif­fer­ent at the World War II Me­mo­rial. They specif­i­cally re­quested a Ber­muda grass, and they wanted one that was Mary­land cer­ti­fied. With such a highly traf­ficked site, Warpin­ski knew that growth rate and wear re­sis­tance would be im­por­tant con­sid­er­a­tions to pro­vide the best match. With the me­mo­rial’s lo­ca­tion in Wash­ing­ton, D.C., Warpin­ski also knew that cold tol­er­ance would crit­i­cal for suc­cess, and PremierPRO had demon­strated ex­cel­lent cold tol­er­ance in uni­ver­sity tests. Warpin­ski was im­pressed with the re­growth rate of PremierPRO when he first chose to pro­duce it, and knew it would grow quickly and al­low the World War II Me­mo­rial to re-open its turf lawn to the pub­lic as quickly as pos­si­ble.

“It wasn’t like any­thing else. It’s not like any other Ber­muda grass we have,” he said. “We har­vested our foun­da­tion and six weeks later it’s full again, com­pletely cov­ered.”

It made good busi­ness sense to choose a grass with rapid re­growth, and Warpin­ski noted that com­pared to his other grasses, PremierPRO was re­mark­able.

“I would prob­a­bly say re­growth was 50 per­cent faster for veg­e­ta­tive Ber­muda grass, and 100 per­cent faster than the seeded va­ri­eties of Ber­muda grass,” he said.

For a sod farmer, this means more yield and higher profit. But for a na­tional mon­u­ment, it could in­crease safety to pre­vent vis­i­tors from stum­bling over sod that hasn’t com­pletely knit­ted its roots into the ex­ist­ing soil. Warpin­ski chose to pro­vide the in­staller with Big Roll sod rather than slabs for a more seam­less look. He cut the rolls a lit­tle thicker than usual to en­cour­age strength in the grass and to speed the re-open­ing for pub­lic use.

In mid-Oc­to­ber, two weeks af­ter the PremierPRO Ber­muda grass sod was in­stalled at the WWII Na­tional Mon­u­ment, Warpin­ski trav­eled to Wash­ing­ton, D.C. to see the grass on­site. “I was sur­prised that at this time of year, I could not pull that grass up. It knit­ted into the ground in two weeks,” Warpin­ski said.

For Cen­tral Sod Farms of Mar yland, the in­stal­la­tion is an “eye-open­ing ex­pe­ri­ence” and a cul­mi­na­tion of their first year of grow­ing PremierPRO. For the Warpin­ski fam­ily, sup­ply­ing sod to the World War II Me­mo­rial is a fam­ily busi­ness com­ing full cir­cle.

“It’s a great honor to sup­ply our turf grass prod­ucts to a me­mo­rial like that, and an im­por­tant me­mo­rial, es­pe­cially for my fam­ily. My dad served in the army in World War II, and it was a nice re­mem­brance of him, too,” he said.


At Wash­ing­ton D.C.’s World War II Me­mo­rial, care is taken to main­tain a site of re­flec­tion for gen­er­a­tions to come. The choices made are care­fully con­sid­ered, and in ev­ery el­e­ment of its de­sign, sym­bol­ism and mean­ing run deep — right down to the grass roots.

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