Consider Climate, Disease Resistance When Specifying Plants

By Chris Matt, Managing Editor - Print & E-Media  
OTHER PARTS OF THIS ARTICLEPt. 1: Landscape Services Department Acts as On-Campus ContractorPt. 2: Building Construction or Renovations Include Landscape PlanPt. 3: Facility, Grounds Managers Join Forces for Renovation ProjectPt. 4: This PagePt. 5: Supervisors, Teams Maintain Key Landscape, Hardscape Items

When specifying planted material for campus projects, the department considers a handful of factors, including climate and maintenance requirements. The university's nursery grows specialty plants for landscape projects, but the nursery typically works with growers in the same region to supply most plant material. The growers ship materials to the nursery, which acts as a staging site before crews are ready to plant.

Common plant materials that generally flourish in colder climates include pines, spruces, firs and different types of oaks. Along with being able to withstand colder temperatures, these woody plants typically require less maintenance. Dobbs and his department primarily specify perennials, but annual beds do exist outside high-priority areas, such as the administration building.

Regardless of the type of plants the department specifies, working with Engineering and Architectural Services is important when determining the proper location for materials planted around new construction or renovation sites, Dobbs says.

"We hope that when we see some of the designs, we want to make sure there's not a whole lot of plantings right next to the roadways," he says, adding salt used to melt snow and ice can kill the plants. "That's been an issue in the past."

Landscape Services is getting involved in more projects than ever, but Dobbs and his staff remain focused on maintaining existing landscapes and building a strong organizational structure that can handle a variety of tasks. The department's efforts garnered national attention in 2008, when the Professional Grounds Management Society awarded MSU with its first Green Star Honor Award — recognition the department does not take lightly.

Says Dobbs, "It is a very big deal. It recognizes MSU as one of the universities that has an outstanding Landscape Services program."

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  posted on 11/9/2009   Article Use Policy

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