Grounds workers in front of Memorial Stadium

Shop Spotlight: Grounds

When it comes to planting time on the campus, it’s a big job, but the Grounds team can do it.

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Across 962 acres of grass, trees, flowers, shrubs, and local ecosystems, grounds workers keep it in order. When the days get longer and warmer, 27 full-time and some extra help staff do three plantings in April, May, and June, according to Ryan Welch, Superintendent of Grounds.

In April, 6,000 flowers go in the ground; in May, another 4,000; and in June, 9,700 flowers are planted. This same crew clears sidewalks, pathways, and building entrances when snow comes. Falls in Illinois brings leaves to sweep away.

One grounds worker can prep and plant a 100-foot-square flower bed in 90 minutes, oftentimes in hot, humid conditions. After that, there’s approximately 56,900 more square feet of beds, containers, and urns to fill!

And with grass, there’s mowing, aerating, and seeding. Trimming, weed control application, and even hand weeding.

With trees, there are safety assessments of limbs or the trunk itself. Add in pruning, removal, and even the chipping of those branches or trunks into mulch. About 82 acres of land of ‘low mow zones’ require a different maintenance and cutting schedule. Fewer mows support sustainability, increase pollinator support, and decrease maintenance costs.