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Welcome to "Ask the White House" -- an online interactive forum where you can submit questions to Administration officials and friends of the White House. Visit the "Ask the White House" archives to read other discussions with White House officials.

Dale Haney
Dale Haney
White House Grounds Superintendent

October 16, 2008

Dale Haney
Good afternoon, I’m Dale Haney, the new superintendent of the White House Grounds. I’m happy to be here today to take questions regarding the Fall Garden Tours and White House grounds and gardens.

Steve, from De Pere, Wisconsin writes:
Do you receive input from the First Family on specific species of flowers, plants, shrubs, etc., that they would like to see in the gardens and on the grounds? If so, what has President and Mrs. Bush's influcence been on the White House grounds the past 8 years?Sidenote: I was able to tour the White House last Friday and saw part of the East Wing garden through the windows. It was beautiful I wish I was going to be there this weekend to to see more of the grounds.

Dale Haney
Even today we follow along the Olmstead Plan, which provides the landscape layout that was requested by Franklin D. Roosevelt and established in 1935 by the Olmstead brothers. The President and Mrs. Bush continue to follow the Olmstead plan along with planting 7 commemorative trees during this Administration.

Stephen, from West Union, Ohio writes:
Does the White House use any real field pumpkins for decoration at the White House. Also- does the First Lady have full control over the White House gardens or does the NPS?

Dale Haney
We do use some pumpkins for displays on the garden patios. The National Park Service presents a plan to the First Lady, and she will make any suggestions to that plan. Overall, the National Park Service continues to maintain the gardens and grounds.

Ed, from Virginia writes:
Thanks answering our questions Dale. How long have you worked at the White House? Are you a political appointee who's appointment will expire with President's term or are you and your staff career employees?Thanks

Dale Haney
I started with the National Park Service in 1972 as a Gardener, then worked my way to the Superintendent of the White House Grounds. I have worked here for 36 years, and I am a career employee.

Mike, from Kalamazoo writes:
What type of grass makes up the SOUTH LAWN? How do you keep the lawn so green with all the foot traffic it is subject too.

Dale Haney
We use Tall Fescue on the lawn and do a major turf renovation once a year during the fall, which includes thatching and aerification. Then we seed and fertilize. After major events such as the Easter Egg Roll, we do aerification after the event to release the compaction.

Nicole, from Seattle writes:
Roughly, how many hours are spent each year planting and maintaining the grounds?

Dale Haney
The National Park Service maintains the grounds 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

Brandon, from Richland, MI writes:
Does the White House have a swimming pool inside for the President and his family to swim in?

Dale Haney
The White House has an outdoor swimming pool only.

Cliff, from Brimfield, Ohio writes:
Superintendent Haney: How many people work on the grounds crew? And do you have a yearly plan as to what and where things will be planted on the grounds? Also are there more than one kind of Rose planted in the rose garden? Thank You

Dale Haney
We have 20 grounds employees, including gardeners, maintenance workers, electricians, and plumbers. We have seasonal display plans that we use for the gardens and fountains. We also have a variety of roses in the garden, such as Floribunda, Hybrid Tea, and Antique Roses.

C.W., from High Point,NC writes:
How often do you you fertilize, seed, and aerate the lawn at the White House? What grass seed is best?Thank you.

Dale Haney
We seasonally do a major turf renovation in the fall and use Tall Fescue seed.

Matt, from Arlington, VA writes:
Mr. Haney: I'm originally from Alabama and I love to grow roses back home. However, we have a huge problem with Japanese Beetles. What do you suggest to get rid of them? Also, on a tour of the West Wing, I was told that the roses in the Rose Garden are actually potted, a hole is dug, then they planted. Is that true?


Dale Haney
Once there is a sign of the beetle, using an application of Seven will normally control the beetle. You may have to reapply after a heavy rain. All of our roses are planted in the ground (not pot planted), and they stay in the ground year round.

Drew, from Sycamore, Illinois writes:
Do you ever use Venus Flietraps in your gardening?

Dale Haney
We do not use Venus Flytraps.

Sue, from NoVa writes:
Greetings. Is there a list available of the plants that are found on the grounds? If not, could one be made available through a link on at some point? If you are propagating plants from the existing plantings, do you have access to a greenhouse or perhaps the Old Soldier's Home up on Capital Street where the Smithsonian has a number of greenhouses for their collections? Thanks.

Dale Haney
Currently we do not have a website that lists all of our plants used on the grounds, but if you visit the White House Fall Garden Tours, you will receive a brochure that lists our Commemorative Tree Plantings on the grounds. We do have a greenhouse offsite, and it is maintained by the National Park Service.

Dale Haney
I want to thank everyone for the great questions today and hope that you will take the opportunity to visit the White House gardens and grounds this weekend during Fall Garden Tours on Saturday, October 18th, from 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. and Sunday, October 19th from noon – 4:00 p.m.