Facility leaders share their thoughts on what to expect this year and beyond
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While the soft elements of landscapes — turf, shrubs, and trees — get the most attention from students, faculty and visitors, managers also must account for hardscape elements. From stone walls and benches to parking lots and sidewalks, hardscapes affect everything from specification to mowing and trimming.
Campus parking lots present a major challenge, Ozment says. The three main campuses feature a total of 25 lots — in addition to a five-level parking garage — and each of the seven satellite campuses has a parking lot.
“We recently committed to renovating all of our parking lots one at a time to improve drainage and do some resurfacing,” Ozment says, adding the work also will address resurfacing, lightings, painting and striping. “We’re also discussing the elimination of wheelstops because people trip over them sometimes. They also get knocked out of place, and they’re high-maintenance. Along with the parking lot remodeling, we’ve added native plants and drought-tolerant plants.”
The department also has changed the way it addresses turf issues within parking lots, in part because of access.
“It’s a challenge just getting into those parking lots,” Ozment says. “We get here at 6 a.m., but by 7, there are already cars in the parking lots. So we have a very small window to do maintenance.” Instead of changing the mowing schedule, Ozment changed the turf.
“We’ve started using ornamental peanut, which is a ground cover with a yellow flower,” she says. “We’ve used that to replace sod in many cases. It has greatly reduced our mowing, and it’s quite attractive. It’s more interesting than just plain sod.”
The department also might add hardscape elements to address campus parking challenges.
“There’s always room in the parking garage, but people want to park where it’s most convenient for them,” she says. “So sometimes that means they’re parking in swales. To prevent that, we’re discussing adding other hardscape things, like fencing and boulders to keep people out of those because it damages the irrigation system and creates quite a bit of maintenance for us.”
Grounds Management: Hardscape's Effect on Equipment Specification