My Eagle Scout project was planning, building, and planting a wayside garden on Park Street along the Washington & Old Dominion (“W&OD”) Trail across from the Vienna Community Center. I first started planning my project in 2016. I was considering several options, including planting trees in my neighborhood and building an outdoor teachers’ lounge at St. Mark Catholic School. However, I chose to make the garden because of the opening of the nearby Vienna Community Center. Much of the existing landscaping was removed during construction of the Community Center, so I knew that a new garden would help beautify my town.
Growing up here, I have done so many things through the Town of Vienna. I played soccer and basketball for several years, I attend Viva Vienna annually, and I have always enjoyed watching the concerts on the Town Green with my family. Since my community has given so much to me, I felt that I should give back to it through my Eagle project. Building a garden near the Community Center was the perfect way to do this. Not only would many people be able to enjoy the garden, but it is near the Community Center, a special place for me. I attended a preschool class there, and I attended many sports camps there.
I worked with Mr. Gary Lawrence, the Town Arborist for Vienna Parks and Recreation in planning and getting my project approved starting in late 2016. Originally, I was going to build my garden on the grounds of the Community Center. However, the completion date kept getting pushed back, so I decided to do my project right across from the Community Center. There, I would not be constrained to the Community Center’s construction timeline. I began planning the layout of the garden in July 2017. With the help of my sister, I measured the space that we had to work with and calculated the dimensions of the garden and the necessary materials. I had to make sure that the garden was set back far enough from both the sidewalk and the W&OD trail to preserve sight lights for cars, bicycles, and pedestrians. That’s why the garden is shaped like half of a parabola with a curved border running along the W&OD trail. I began meeting with the scoutmaster, the troop committee chair, and the district eagle coordinator to go over my plans. When I got the project approved by each of these individuals, I had to prepare a more detailed landscape plan for final approval by the Town of Vienna and NOVA Parks.
The Town of Vienna provided a budget of $500 for all materials including stones, plants, and topsoil. In August, I went to the Town of Vienna Public Works Yard to select and count the stones that I would need to build the border wall for my garden. I ended up selecting stones that had been part of the old Community Center. Re-using existing stone inventory increased the available budget for plants. However, I had to reduce the size of the garden based on the number of stones available. I began my plant selection process in September at Merrifield Garden Center. The Town has a contract at Merrifield, so I was able to get a 25% discount on the plants and remain under budget. I chose native perennials because I wanted them to last from season to season and attracta native wildlife. I completed my final landscaping plan proposal in late September and got it approved by the Town of Vienna and NOVA Parks. Closer to the project date, I calculated the amount of food that would be needed for my volunteers.
The night before the project, I painted the ground based on the exact measurements of the garden. On the day of the project, Town of Vienna staff brought two trucks full of materials including the stones, tools, topsoil, and mulch. I brought the plants that I had selected and cared for. I had twelve boys and several adults help me complete the project. The first step was to clear the site. We then had to dig and level the area where the wall would be built. We used stones, liquid nails, and blue stone dust to build the wall. During this time it was difficult to keep every worker on task, especially because not everyone could work in the wall area at once. So, I assigned the extra workers to help pick up litter along the W&OD trail. Once the wall building was complete, we filled the area with compost soil and planted the plants. We placed a layer of mulch on the soil and watered the plants. Many people came up to us as they were walking along the W&OD trail, and they congratulated us on the project.
Through my project, I learned valuable leadership skills. I learned how to plan a project and then lead a group to carry out my plan. I also learned how delegate tasks to the people working under my leadership. I felt very accomplished when we finished the project. The Park Street Wayside Garden is literally at the crossroads of the community where I grew up. Standing there, I can see the Community Center and the sports fields where I spent so many hours as a kid. I am so grateful to everyone who helped me plan and carry out the project, and I hope everyone will enjoy looking at the garden for years to come! I know that I will cherish the skills I learned and the memories of planning and executing the project with my friends and family.