WASHINGTON – The Rose Garden has been a muddy mess and the South Lawn marred by brown patches since President Donald Trump used them as backdrops for last month’s Republican National Convention.
Both are undergoing extensive re-sodding as crews work to repair the damage, which was clearly visible this week and last. The Rose Garden repairs come just weeks after the White House completed a major renovation of the garden intended, in part, to improve drainage issues.
“The sod is being replaced at no cost to taxpayers. Additionally, there has been other planned infrastructure work taking place on the south grounds,” said White House spokesman Judd Deere. He added that the work is expected to be completed by early Wednesday or Thursday, barring more bad weather.
The president’s reelection campaign, the Republican National Committee and officials in the East Wing of the White House, which oversaw the Rose Garden renovation, did not respond to questions about the damage or who will pay for it. A representative for Central Sod Farms Annapolis, which has been working on the project, did not immediately respond to an email.
The damage comes after Trump upended long-held norms separating campaigning and governance by using the White House grounds as the stage for a partisan political event.
First lady Melania Trump delivered her convention speech in the newly-refurbished Rose Garden and the president formally accepted his party's nomination on the South Lawn in front of more than a thousand people seated in rows of closely-packed white chairs, despite the ongoing pandemic.
The White House noted that some sod replacement is not unusual after major events, including the annual Easter Egg Roll and major state visits, especially if heavy foot traffic follows heavy rain. And since the sod is already being replaced, some other upgrades are being done as well.
The president delivered his televised acceptance speech the final night of the convention in front of an audience of about 1,500 people, according to organizers. The event featured a large stage, giant screens and other equipment set on the South Lawn, in front of the majestic Washington Monument, and was capped by an elaborate fireworks show.