4 FM quick reads on grounds care
1. Bird Control: Spotlight on Geese
Grounds managers need to understand the threats birds pose and the available control options to be able to design effective bird control systems.
Besides making a mess of building facades, birds can contribute to the spread of disease, such as histoplasmosis. The fungal disease exists in soil and bird droppings. Humans can contract it by touching bird droppings or infected soil, and it can be airborne.
The Canada goose can be very destructive and messy. It is estimated geese can eat up to 5 pounds of turf per day and produce up to 1.5 pounds of droppings. Large, continually grazing populations also can compact turf areas and compromise water supplies.
To establish effective bird control systems for geese, a good first step is restoring the native perennial flowers around the ponds, as well as in lawns areas that don't need to be turf.
"When we establish native plant material within our landscapes, geese avoid these areas and opt to populate landscapes dominated by turf grass," says Jack Pizzo, founder of Pizzo & Associates Ltd. Ecological Restoration in Leland, Ill.
Cost is always a factor, Pizzo says. The cost to establish wildflowers is usually lower than the alternative. Where barrier plantings are not an option, Pizzo offers these tactics to reduce geese populations.
- Reduce food sources.
- Decrease the size of lawn areas surrounding water.
- Curtail fertilizer use. Geese prefer lush, succulent, tender grass.
- Reduce or eliminate mowing around the edges of water. In taller grass, geese cannot easily find new, delectable shoots. Taller grass also acts as a barrier to block their line of sight from the water, their main mode of protection from predators.
2. Asphalt Repair Strategies and Tactics
Common asphalt repairs include resealing the surface, sealing cracks, applying cold- and hot-mix patches to potholes, and applying skin patches. A hot patch is more permanent than a cold patch and might be necessary during cold weather to temporarily repair a hole in a road surface.
Workers can make cold-mix patches by sweeping up loose rubble, using compressed air to blow away residual materials, applying a primer, and pouring the cold mix from bags into the hole. The final step is tamping with a hand tamper, air-powered tamper, or gas-powered vibrating tamper. The thicker the patch, the more compaction passes are needed.
Because hot-mix patches are intended to be more permanent than cold-mix patches, they tend to require more preparation work.
First, the worker must dig out the hole with pick and shovel or air-operated pavement breaker to square the sides and bottom to a uniform depth of at least 5 inches. Gravel is replaced to bring the depth to 3 inches and tamped using a hand or power tamper. The hot-mix asphalt fills the top 3 inches. The worker then rakes the patch evenly to 1 inch higher than the adjacent pavement.
The next step is to tamp the asphalt with a hand or powered tamper or roller to a level slightly higher than the adjacent pavement. This allows for further compaction by traffic without creating a depression, which can collect water.
Where alligatoring affects large surface areas or fine cracks cover large areas, one proven remedy is a skin patch. One to three workers can apply a sealer coat to the area after cleaning all loose rubble from the surface. Next, they apply a 1-inch-thick layer of hot-mix asphalt and rake it out evenly with a wide asphalt rake. Next, they tamp the hot-mix surface using a powered roller to ensure good compaction. Skin patches are appropriate only when the base is solid and properly graded for water runoff.
3. Grounds: Preparing for Mowing
Preparing lawn-mowing equipment for the rigorous spring schedule can help ensure an efficient, successful mowing season.
First and foremost, grounds managers should follow the lawn mower maintenance program outlined in each owner's manual. Makes and models of mowers vary, so managers should use the owner's manual for each piece of equipment as the minimum maintenance standards. If mechanics and operators fail to follow the program outlined in the manual, the equipment warranty might not remain effective.
Prior to filling the fuel tank and mowing for the first time, mechanics should thoroughly inspect all equipment, and a mechanic or qualified staff member should complete annual lawn mower maintenance procedures.
Operators must be sure to inspect all safety features to ensure they are in working order. Do not allow operators to override or modify safety devices; safety should never be compromised for efficiency. One accident can quickly negate all the benefits of saving a few minutes each day.
Attention and commitment to routine lawn mower maintenance goes a long way to ensuring operator safety. Worn belts and brakes, loose bolts, faulty wiring, improper tire pressure and even broken seat belts can contribute to injury.
Manufacturers continually improve safety features on mowing equipment and tractors. Automatic shutoffs, ergonomic hand controls, vibration and noise reduction, roll bars, and seat belts are among the safety features included in today's mowing equipment. Deflectors and guards are also more common on mower decks and should remain in place when mowing near streets, parking lots and other places where flying objects thrown by the mower might damage property or injure people.
Some manufactures have equipped new riding mowers with back-over protection devices, which prevent the blade from turning while the mower is in reverse. These back-over protection devices also might include a sensor that stops the engine or the blades or the wheels when it detects a bystander behind the machine.
4. Concrete and Asphalt: Effective Maintenance
I'm Dan Hounsell, editor of Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today's topic is, effective concrete and asphalt maintenance.
Exterior concrete and asphalt surfaces create a visitor's first impression of a facility. If drives, parking lots, and sidewalks deteriorate because they are not maintained properly, they can create problems that include poor appearance, tripping hazards, and costly repairs.
The causes of concrete and asphalt problems generally fall into three categories: design, use, and maintenance.
Design problems result from errors in material makeup, the placement of reinforcing materials, and poor support structure. One common design problem is excess water in the concrete mix. Managers need to properly specify concrete and asphalt mixes for each application and inspect them during application to ensure workers take test specimens and place the materials properly.
Another common problem is surface spalling, which results from imbedded metal around windows and other locations that strengthens concrete. Structural settling causes cracks that allow water intrusion, freezing and more cracking.
Even properly applied asphalt can develop problems that result from the effects of ultraviolet rays, water, petroleum products, and traffic. New asphalt combines asphalt-cement binder, sand and stone, and it is black. As the surface dries, asphalt turns gray from the absence of binder, and the elements begin to deteriorate it.
Managers also must be aware of unintended traffic, which can lead to premature degradation. For example, parking lots feature lanes for cars and those for trucks, which have much thicker bases.
If the design does not provide truck lanes or if trucks wander off designated lanes, they will crush the car-parking surfaces. The resulting depressions will collect standing water, and the water will turn to ice. Cracking and spalling can occur, causing damage that requires major repairs.