No off season for groundskeeping at GC
When students and blooms are away, groundskeepers come to play.
Winter is key for maintaining GC’s campus flora. The break allows groundskeepers to prepare for the spring and summer when plants and young minds on campus are growing.
“There’s an unconscious value to having a nice environment when you walk out of class,” said John Whittle, one of two grounds supervisors at GC.
However, upholding the standard students expect on campus is no walk in the park.
“A lot of people don’t realize it, but grounds maintenance is a 365-day-a-year job,” said Aaron Seay, GC’s second grounds supervisor. “There are a lot of things that go into play right now.”
Seay and Whittle survey and plan landscapes while coordinating tasks for the grounds crews, including daily maintenance of campus areas such as the Front Campus lawn and ower beds encircling buildings.
Grounds crews recently nished clearing the last of the fall leaf accumulations. Now Seay and Whittle are focused on maintenance and preparing for spring.
“Here shortly we will be putting out pinestraw and mulch, and we will do some applications of chemicals to the lawn and shrub areas to keep weeds from germinating,” Whittle said.
For a campus rich with blooming plants, pruning and weed control are imperative for keeping plants healthy and producing the best quality blooms.
Though the weed control regime includes herbicides and pesticides, the two supervisors take steps to limit the amount of chemicals being applied.
“We install plants that are correct for the area they are planted in, so we don’t have to do a lot of herbicide and pesticide treatments,” Whittle said.
Plants that are both aesthetically-pleasing as well as low-maintenance in this region include azaleas, hydrangeas and dogwood trees, all of which are a part of the symphony of blooms each spring at GC.
Larger maintenance projects occur while students are away over break. This winter, GC groundskeeping brought in contractors to prune and cut down trees around campus. The contractors cut dying trees that posed threats if they fell and pruned dying limbs for the overall health and beauty of trees.
“Grounds is a big recruiting tool here at the school, and maintaining the image of the campus is important,” Seay said.
When freshman Brooke Weeks visited GC for the rst time, she found the campus area charming.
“My favorite place is front campus because it’s so open and there’s always people out there,” said Weeks, a biology major. “It’s all very put-together.”
Being “put-together” is according to Whittle and Seay’s efforts and designs.
When creating new landscapes, the two grounds supervisors consider common elements used around campus to maintain visual continuity.
“It’s about what works well for our campus and what blends in with our existing landscape,” Seay said.