Providers on better groundskeeping and landscaping management

By: | Issue: July, 2018
June 26, 2018

Where do campuses fall short on groundskeeping and landscaping, and what misconceptions do administrators outside of facilities departments have about groundskeeping?

“An important piece in efficient management of groundskeeping and landscaping is getting the correct tools, equipment, parts and services in a timely manner and, ideally, staying within budget. Through cooperative purchasing programs, colleges and universities can have access to vendors who can readily meet their grounds maintenance needs. Higher ed needs to find a contract that streamlines the procurement process so they can get tools and services with established national volume pricing.”

—Tony Glenz, contract administration lead, National Joint Powers Alliance

Link to main story: Landscaping keeps colleges on solid ground

“Administrators may not realize the impact curb appeal has on a student and their family’s decision to select a school. The message should be that your campus is a beautiful, welcoming and safe environment. Entranceways are made inviting through seasonal color, and paying attention to small details such as edging and blowing help campuses look their very best.”

—J. Barron Wood, business development executive, National Management Resources Corp.

“We see some struggle in the goal of establishing functional sustainability and environmental friendly campuses. Having a sustainable campus can result in useful urban green spaces, conservation of water and habitats for wildlife. The main misconception is a lack of awareness on the positive impact green spaces can have on the ecosystem.”

—Allan L. McCombs, senior vice president of sales and account management, National IPA

“Higher education leaders might be surprised to learn that savings generated from a building project, such as a public-private partnership, can be applied to groundskeeping and landscaping efforts. It’s important to keep a savings stream in mind when planning updates to campus grounds, especially since studies have shown that physical campus matters in terms of student satisfaction and success. Take inventory of the life expectancy and remaining life of equipment to see which P3 model would be a fit and how savings could be deployed to pay for other campus projects, like landscaping.”

—Russell Garcia, director of higher education for Performance Infrastructure- North America, Johnson Controls

“Many entities fail to fund their grounds maintenance operation adequately. Grounds maintenance often suffers greatly because it is not a life safety or other ‘critical system’ on campus. As we work to decrease overall chemical inputs to provide a more healthy environment, some manpower inputs must be increased to offset this reduction.”

—Andy Trimble, Aramark, contracts as director of campus grounds at Baylor University Facilities Services, and certified arborist

“Grounds departments create the front door of a college campus for visitors and prospective students. A 2012 UCLA poll of nearly 200,000 students indicated the campus tour was one of the top five reasons why they choose their school. Given the importance of this first impression, greater investment in grounds is important. Many colleges are dealing with labor shortages for grounds staff, old equipment and shrinking budgets.

—Michael Lueking, grounds manager, Aramark and McDaniel College

“Administrators underestimate the value of grounds personnel, viewing them as ‘workers that mow grass and pick up paper.’ The result is reduced funding and a lack of resources. This area actually requires trained professionals in landscape management and grounds maintenance, and the necessary monetary resources to present an excellent impression of the institution to visitors, prospective students and their parents.”

—Mary Sue Goldwater, executive director, facilities category, E&I Cooperative Services

Steven Blackburn is associate editor.