Garden Committee

Small garden plots are available to residents on River Towers’ grounds at the rear of the property. The plots may be used to grow fruit, plants, flowers, and vegetables, but trees may not be planted. (See the garden rules for more information.) Garden tools are available in the garden shed. Hoses are provided as well.

To get an application (new or renewal), stop by the RT Management Office or download a copy of the new gardener application.

A $30 annual fee is payable by check or money order for a garden plot. The Chair of the Garden Committee will review applications and assign plots to residents on an “as available” basis. If you have questions, please contact the Garden Committee Chair through the Management Office.

2019 Garden Timeline

March 4—deadline for renewal applications from returning gardeners

March 15—deadline for new gardener applications

March 20—meeting of all gardeners (new and returning) at 7:30 pm in the Club Room (31 bldg.)

March 23—Spring Cleanup Day, 9 am to noon. Meet in the garden dressed for work. (Rain day fallback: March 30)

May 1—Garden Committee Meeting in the picnic grove at 7pm. (Meet in the Club Room if it rains.) All gardeners are invited.

May 1—the deadline for starting work on individual plots. The garden chair will contact you if your plot shows no sign of having been worked on by that date.

June 5—Garden Committee Meeting in the picnic grove at 7pm. (Meet in the Club Room if it rains.) All gardeners are invited. Our agenda includes problem-solving on  matters such as maintenance of unclaimed plots, missing items, mosquito larvae, and use of crop nets and tarps. Dianne will provide light refreshments. Feel free to bring any drinks and snacks of your own.

Messages from the Garden Committee Chair

Recap of the Gardener Committee Meeting on May 1

The Garden Committee was favored with balmy weather and a mocking bird in full song for our first outdoor meeting of the year, in the picnic grove. We agreed to meet monthly through the summer in hopes of getting more gardeners to attend at least one meeting (only one new gardener attended this one). The following items of business were discussed:

Garden map. Our longtime gardener and computer guru Jennifer Smith, building on the work of Jay Jupiter and using plot measurements gardeners provided, is redrawing the map. The flexible software she has chosen will allow plots to be expanded or otherwise redrawn in future as needed. It will be completed shortly and posted in the garden shed. For those who want a copy, a link will be provided on the River Towers website.

Access lanes. Reminder: The Garden Rules require that all gardeners with front plots ensure that people in the plots behind them have a lane to get water their plots.  

Decorative fountains. These are okay as long as they have running water. Pools of standing water, such as bird baths, are not permitted because they act as a breeding ground for mosquitoes.   

Landfill. Plot E-34 will continue to be used as a disposal area for unwanted plants, soil, weeds, and clippings. All other items, such as containers, garbage, bamboo grass, poison ivy, and non-biodegradable items, should be put in the trash cans. Branches, bushes, and thorny bushes, such as roses, should be bundled and set by the trash cans. The contents of the P-tent potty should be emptied into a garbage bag and carried to a trash can.

Bamboo grass. In accordance with a policy set by the Landscape Committee, contiguous plots on the east side of the garden that are infested with bamboo grass will be sprayed with Roundup. The Committee has studied the pros and cons of using glyphosates such as Roundup and decided to approve their use on a case by case basis. In this case, a targeted spraying was deemed necessary because of the extent of the bamboo grass and the isolation of the affected plots from other cultivated plots.

Lockers. Locker #1 is community locker and is not locked. All tools and equipment taken from that locker must be returned to it by the user. Gardeners who have their own lockers are advised to keep them locked.

New features

P-tent (erected at the rear of the garden)—Sprinkle peat moss into the bucket after each use. When bucket is half full, empty it into a trash can (not the landfill).

Gravity light (hanging in shed)—Instructions for use are in the shed. Auxiliary lights that can be carried to other areas of the shed are stored in a box in locker 1.

Measuring wheel (stored in locker 1)

Weed whacker (stored in shed but battery must be checked out from office)


Community responsibilities

Safeguarding property—report missing or broken items

Cleaning and returning all items you borrowed to their proper place in the shed

Sharing plants, bulbs, seedlings, etc. Post a sign at the shed alerting gardeners that you have a surplus or are looking to acquire bulbs, plants, etc.

Tending raspberry and blueberry patches and any other community plots where you’d like a share of the crop

Watering window boxes at garden shed


Ideas for new undertakings

Create meditation walk at back of garden

Start a pumpkin patch

Garden News

Please email your submissions (text and photos) to Dianne.

Places to Purchase Plants

Greenstreet Gardens

Holly, Woods, and Vines

Home Depot in Mt. Vernon Plaza

Lowes in Beacon Center

Nature By Design

Old Town Ace Hardware

Whole Foods

Local Plant Sales

American Horticultural Society Spring Garden Market at River Farm, April 12 & 13

Mt. Vernon Historic Plant and Garden Sale, April 27 to May 27

Farmers Markets--Old Town (Saturday mornings), Sherwood Hall Library parking lot (Wednesday mornings). Some vendors sell plants and herbs.

Old Town Farmers Market (a few vendors often have plants)

Seed Catalogs

Park Seed

Southern Exposure Seed Exchange (located in central Virginia)

Territorial Seed Company

Bulb Catalogs

Brent and Becky's Bulbs

Schreiner's Iris Gardens


Free Mulch

Fairfax County operates a brush grinding operation which produces double-shredded wood mulch for residents. You can pick it up at multiple locations.

If you have a friend who lives in Alexandria, you can ask them to go with you to pick up free mulch at 4215 Eisenhower Avenue.

        * Note that you'll need to bring your own shovel and bucket.


Fairfax County Master Gardeners

Fairfax County Office of Virginia Cooperative Extension and their Vegetable Planting Guide and Recommended Planting Dates

Green Spring Garden

Master Gardener help line at Virginia Cooperative Extension: 703-228-6414

Virginia Native Plant Society

Don't forget about your fellow gardeners. Many of the experienced gardeners are generous with their advice and tips.