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Facility Maintenance Decisions
Michigan State University: Grounded in Service PAGE Landscape Services Department Acts as On-Campus Contractor Building Construction or Renovations Include Landscape Plan Facility, Grounds Managers Join Forces for Renovation Project Consider Climate, Disease Resistance When Specifying Plants Supervisors, Teams Maintain Key Landscape, Hardscape Items

Building Construction or Renovations Include Landscape Plan

By Chris Matt, Managing Editor - Print & E-Media Grounds Management   Article Use Policy

Landscape Services has 55 full-time staff members, and Dobbs hires about 200 seasonal employees annually. In 2008, the department took on about 4,000 projects encompassing everything from repairing broken sidewalks and replacing decorative light fixtures to building landscapes around new construction and renovation projects. The department's budget in 2008 was $11 million.

Dobbs says he is fortunate to lead a department with a structure that calls for a handful of supervisors to manage these projects because it creates clear lines of communication and gives employees a sense of ownership. When it comes to larger landscape projects that coincide with building construction or renovations, Dobbs relies on a landscape architect to work with the Engineering and Architectural Services department to make sure early designs account for the effect construction could have on landscapes.

"He's my liaison with Engineering and Architectural Services within physical plant," Dobbs says of the landscape architect. "Whenever there is a new project that is coming up, I send him over, and he participates in the project-planning meetings. He brings that information over to our supervisory staff, and each Monday, he sets up a project-planning meeting with the supervisors, as well as representatives from Engineering and Architectural Services.

"After they meet and discuss some of the problems and solve some of the issues, the staff that is involved in the actual work come into the project-planning meetings, and they get the information and know exactly what they have to do," he says.

Coordination also exists between the landscape architect and the campus nursery. The nursery technician orders plant material according to the architect's specifications. The nursery also applies a bar-coded tag to its trees and shrubs. The department can use the tag to determine the part of the country the tree or shrub came from, the date it arrived on campus, and the date crews planted it. The tag allows workers to use GPS technology to map new plantings on campus, which is important when developing a maintenance program for planted material at different stages of maturity.

"It's a smooth operation in terms of how they actually get the work done," Dobbs says. "There's a lot of methodology that's been put in place. Everybody has a part. It works extremely well."


posted on 11/9/2009



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