South Lawn, Rose Garden at White House needs repairs after RNC

The Rose Garden repairs come just weeks after the White House completed a major and controversial renovation of the garden intended, in part, to improve drainage.

WASHINGTON — Editor’s Note: The video above is Melania Trump’s RNC speech from the White House Rose Garden on Aug. 25, 2020.

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 is paying for the work.

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 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.

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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.

The first lady held her event earlier in the week in the Rose Garden following extensive renovations that included the removal of crab apple trees, the addition of a 3-foot (0.91-meter)-wide limestone walking path, as well as what had been described as improvements to the garden’s drainage and broadcasting infrastructure. That work was paid for with private donations and approved by the Committee for the Preservation of the White House.

Officials noted that setup for the event began just after the renovation and after a span of heavy rain, and suggested that the new sod

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Renovated White House Rose Garden undergoing repairs

By Kate Bennett | CNN

The newly renovated White House Rose Garden is under repair less than three weeks after its official unveiling. The garden is experiencing “issues with water drainage” and “some minor complications with updated construction,” a source with knowledge of the garden troubles told CNN. New sod is also being laid down.

First lady Melania Trump on August 22 hosted a private party to celebrate the redone Rose Garden, which the public was told had been completed after approximately three weeks of renovation.

A White House spokesman said Tuesday that taxpayers will not have to pay for the cost of re-sodding the Rose Garden.

“The sod is being replaced at no cost to taxpayers,” deputy press secretary Judd Deere told CNN.

Instead, the tab for the repairs to the grass will be paid for by the Trump campaign, a campaign official told CNN. The cost of the re-sod of the Rose Garden was not revealed. The campaign is also paying for repairs and replacement sod for the South Lawn, which was also damaged by events for the Republican National Convention.

Hundreds of guests were seated on the South Lawn during the convention, and a large tent was also erected. Additionally, a stage and lighting apparatus were built specifically for President Donald Trump to use the White House as the backdrop for his convention speech.

The Rose Garden renovation was paid for by private funds, solicited in large part by the Trust for the National Mall.

The White House has not said when the Rose Garden will be able to properly function.

Trump on Monday held a news conference on the North Portico, an unusual outdoor location, but the source notes hosting press in seats at the Rose Garden “would not be doable” in the iconic garden’s current status. Trump has also had to motorcade to Andrews Air Force Base of late, again preventing media from seeing the construction in the Rose Garden in recent days.

Melania Trump held her Republican National Convention speech from the Rose Garden in front of approximately 75 seated guests on August 25. For that event, the grass of the Rose Garden was too muddy to host an audience due to lack of drainage from heavy rain storms, thus a “turf” lawn was put down over the grass instead, a source with knowledge told CNN at the time.

Trump announced she was spearheading the Rose Garden overhaul in late July. The renovation included updates to plants, trees, grass and florals, as well as the addition of a new limestone border, pathways and technological elements to make the outdoor space more modernized for televised events.

The first lady’s renovation followed the guidelines from the garden’s original 1962 layout — but the update was largely panned by critics for looking substantially altered. Most discussed was the removal of 10 crabapple trees. The trees, which over the years had been replaced and were not the Kennedy-era originals, were transported to a National Park Service facility for

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