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12/2/2008 12:00:00 AM
Compiled by FacilitiesNet Staff
Today’s grounds care managers have more opportunities than ever to save
energy, decrease water use and maximize resources, while creating
eco-friendly and aesthically pleasing environments. But achieving these
goals will require managers to look at both the products and practices
their grounds care department use.
Achieving healthy soil and following green landscaping practices often means reducing the amount of chemical applications.
“It would be easy to put down chemicals that kill weeds, but what I’m
trying to do is build soil that is conducive to growing the grass and
plants I want to grow,” says Jeffrey Weiser, grounds manager with
Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C.
“The chemical will kill the weed, but it won’t really solve the
problem,” adds Kevin O’Donnell, superintendent of grounds with
Villanova University. “A better strategy might be to look at factors
associated with a particular weed, such as compacted soil, and solve
The use of synthetic pesticides also is a concern of several
municipalities throughout the United States and Canada. Several
communities have set up reduction strategies to help promote green
landscaping, while others have completely banned products.
States and communities also are regulating lawn fertilizers more
heavily. Restrictions apply to fertilizers containing phosphorous — and
in some areas, high levels of soluble nitrogen — to protect water
supplies from damaging nutrient pollutants.
One green landscaping practice catching national attention involves
topdressing lawns with compost. Compost often is unregulated and
untested, and some composts might not be suitable for certain lawns.
Pesticide residues and heavy metals found in some compost create
concerns for end users.
Focus on Water
Some organizations have taken major steps to curtail water use in
response to shortages, rising prices and the call for green landscaping
practices. Landscaped areas have come under particular scrutiny in the
search for savings on water use.
Water-conservation efforts might include shutting down irrigation
systems during months with more rainfall, incorporating drip irrigation
and pressure reducers on systems to lower water volume, and adding
composted materials to soil to retain moisture. Some managers have
installed irrigation systems that monitor rainfall.
Managers also should monitor water leaving the grounds. Runoff can
cause problems downstream, such as chemical pollution, and negatively
impact the surrounding community.