Outdoor Services Crew

Friday, August 7, 2015

Adding Color to the Boulder campus

Spring is a time for warm breezes and sunny skies but that's not what happened in Boulder this year.  Instead, we received 8 inches of snow in April and 4 inches of snow in May.  Hardly anyone thought spring had arrived during those months--plants included.  In fact, it was the wettest May in Boulder County since 1995 according to the National Oceanic & Atmospheric  Administration   (NOAA).
Two months of snow and rain made the soil extremely wet and spring planting preparation a little tricky on the CU campus.  It is not easy to till through clumps of mud.  In order to get the flowers planted by mid-June though, the work had to continue -- rain or shine.

The crews knew the cool weather and rain would soon be replaced by hot summer sun.   So, one very important step before any flowers went in the ground at the University was checking with the Outdoor Services Irrigation Team to make sure the flower beds would have water.

If flowers are planted in an area before the irrigation team can get water there, the teams would need to hand water until the automated irrigation was ready. The Outdoor Services crews know the importance of good communication across teams.   So much of their work depends on timing.

Two teams maintain CU's main campus and are responsible for grounds and landscape maintenance.  The dividing line runs roughly along 18th street.  Scott Redder, Supervisor, has leads for both areas. 
West Main Campus flower order: from left, Riley Eichler (student), Doug Grainero, Jessie Taylor, John Vogel(student)
West Main Campus Lead, Jessie Taylor (GN2), has worked at CU in Outdoor Services for nineteen years.  Her full time crew is:  Doug Grainero, Don Anderson, George Wallack and Matt Schwarz.

            Jessie Taylor inspecting the flower bed at 17th and University       
There are student employees that work side by side the full time Outdoor Services crews.   Some work all year round but the biggest numbers arrive in the summer.   

“We couldn’t do this without them,” Jessie said.  “The campus looks better than ever and it is because we have student workers to help us.   We are like a work family," she added. 

CU isn’t an agriculture university but many students find working outdoors rewarding and the flexible hours offer them a perfect work schedule during the school year.

George Wallack working on Hawthorne Courtyard bed
When asked what Jessie would like people to know about her team she replied that, “they really care about the campus.   They have personal pride in what they do and they like their job.   They like working for CU.”   

East Main Campus Lead, Bertie Knowles (GN2), has worked at CU in Outdoor Services for fourteen years.  His full time crew is:  Adrien Francis, Justin Potter, Patrick Giblin and Adam Sitzman.

East Main Campus flower order:  from left, Bertie Knowles, Adam Sitzman and Patrick Giblin

"Our team has a lot of knowledge," said Bertie.  "What has been fun is seeing the students learn from the team."  Whether it is trash left on sidewalks, weeds popping out among the flowers or trees that look a little stressed, Bertie is looking for it all during his daily inspections.

With all the variety that is available, I asked the leads how they picked what the teams planted.  Each full time employee owns his or her planting sections and decides what will look good.  They are responsible for preparing, planting, and maintaining their flower beds.   Their goal is to make the campus burst with color.

The campus landscape architect, Richelle Reilly, has been called in to provide guidance.   "Richelle has reviewed aspects such as texture, color and scale with my teams," explained Scott Redder.   "The crews take these things into consideration when choosing the right plant material but they also have to consider environmental aspects such as wind and sun exposure to a site," said Scott.  

This burst of color is a result of Adrien Francis's hard work SE of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences

Justin Potter tends the University Administrative Annex Flower Beds
To help with the overall budget each year, the teams are looking more and more into planting perennials.  They want those that still give color but will come back year after year.  If you look around campus, you'll see these plants are really taking hold and filling in the landscape beautifully.

The crews work hard to make little areas around  campus shine with something new and exciting.  Outdoor Services teams hope the next time you are walking on campus, something will catch your eye and make you stand a few minutes and smile. 

Marsha Burch