Outdoor Services Crew

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


After a very dry fall we received 10" of snow and as we all know some very cold temperatures. We have been working hard the past couple days plowing and hand shoveling. It has been very hard work for our hand shovel crew, even with the snow being a "dry" snow, the crews have been out all day in the cold temperatures. We have been lucky enough to have our student employees jump in and help out tremendously with this task. 

One of our major challenges for snow removal is ice mitigation. With such a large storm we have sizable piles of snow in many locations on campus. We work hard to make sure the piles are in locations which will not hurt us when melting starts but with 10" of snow and the first day of classes for the spring semester we were forced to put snow in places we normally wouldn't. Now that the active snow plowing has tapered off, we will start our detail work with our skid loaders and back hoe. We will start to work towards removing these piles from places that we know are going to cause ice problems and relocate them into better locations.

Some of those locations will  include trees that we have within concrete/brick paver areas. With these trees being surrounded by hardscape their root zones are much smaller and have less ability to deal with prolonged dry stretches. We will be piling snow at these locations to help provide a nice shot of moisture for these plants where we can.

From a turfgrass prospective the snow is amazing! A major challenge of managing turf on campus is the cycles of use are not well meshed. If you think of baseball fields, golf courses and other locations that have a lot of summer sports on them the activities take place during the active growing portion of the year. Here on campus the majority of our heavy use is during the non-growing time of the year. This means the plant cannot repair itself from damage or traffic like it would during the summer time. We are constantly concerned about damage to the crown of the plant and turf loss during this time. One technique that is used is to heavily topdress the turf with a sand peet mixture and this helps to provide a layer of protection.  But of course, it would be next to impossible to use this technique at the university; however, the snow is the perfect blanket which not only gives the plant a nice amount of moisture but it also helps to alleviate some of the damage that can occur.  The loss of turf plants reduces our turf density and can create a void in the turf canopy which can allow for weeds to have a place to germinate come spring time.

Although snow is a lot of work for our staff it is something that helps to set us up for a much healthier landscape when springtime does come.