Exterior Landscape Installation at AEI DC Building

In a previous series of posts, we detailed the interiorscaping project our Interior Plantscaping team undertook at the historic AEI building in Washington, DC. The series described the many challenges our team faced and the innovative solutions they devised to solve them. The result was a very successful and beautiful interior plantscaping installation, but our work at AEI wasn’t quite complete. There was also a massive exterior landscape installation project awaiting our Exterior Enhancement team on the outside of the building.

The introductory post in this series mentioned the aggressive timeline we faced and how the move-in date for AEI staff had slipped almost a full year. The principals of the organization wanted to hold a building dedication once the interior work had been completed and staff had moved in. The exterior landscape installation hadn’t fully begun at this point, but the dedication couldn’t be postponed any longer.  The date was set for the end of September 2016.

Our Exterior Enhancement team was tasked with installing a city block’s worth of sod along one side of the building – the one where distinguished attendees would enter for the dedication ceremony. Appearances matter!  The dedication went off splendidly and the Inside Out crew set to work afterwards rolling up the temporary sod  so they could get down to the business of beginning the exterior landscape installation.

Large Trees Requiring Large Hand-dug Holes

It should be noted that AEI had already selected four large trees which would complement the historic façade of the building to be planted along Massachusetts Avenue and 18th Street. These trees had been purchased several years earlier during the planning phase of the building renovation and were stored at a tree farm by the grower in West Virginia for eventual relocation to the AEI Building.

With root-balls at least eight feet wide, four enormous holes had to be dug before the trees could be delivered and set in place. As anyone who has ever driven down Massachusetts Avenue in the heart of Washington’s Embassy Row knows, it can get rather congested with traffic during a typical weekday. This made bringing in heavy equipment a challenge. Blocking off a curbside lane during the height of a DC workday wasn’t an option. This precluded bringing in a backhoe to dig the massive holes required to plant the trees. Instead, our team had do the work the old-fashioned way: by hand!

Well-Coordinated Operation on the Streets of DC

With the four big holes (more like craters) dug and ready to receive the tall trees, the Inside Out Exterior Enhancement team was ready to work out a plan to bring in the trees and get them planted. It was decided to bring in the trees on flatbed tractor trailers before dawn on a Saturday morning when traffic on Mass Avenue wasn’t too heavy.

Inside Out received permission to block off the right-most lane of Mass Avenue alongside the AEI building. The trees were wrapped in large tarps and then chained down to the eighteen-wheelers - gigantic root balls and all. From there, a large forklift was used to carefully lift the trees from the trucks and deposit them into the pre-dug holes. It was quite a process! Hopefully, you can get an idea of what was involved from the photos on this page. Click on the link to our Facebook page to view an animated GIF of how to plant using a forklift!

Shrubbery and plant material of various sizes were also installed around the building to complete the exterior landscaping installation. In addition to the street-level landscaping installation, we also installed forty planters on the rooftop balcony of the AEI Building.

The rooftop project will be picked up again this spring and we’ll provide updates and photos when it’s completed. Everyone at Inside Out Services is extremely proud of the way this massive and challenging project turned out and is solid proof no matter the size of the project – small, medium, or gigantic -we give it our all! Please visit our Exterior Landscape Installations page to learn more and request a free, no-obligation quote for your project.

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