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To maintain the grounds on the The College at Brockport campus in an aesthetically pleasing and safe condition. These areas include all turf areas, landscape plantings and structures, athletic fields, sidewalks, parking lots and roadways.
The grounds maintenance programs are initiated by the staff assistant of the Grounds/Automotive Department under the guidance of the assistant director of Facilities and Planning. Most of the labor-intensive work is performed by our own grounds maintenance staff and custodial services staff. All pesticide applications are done through the services of New York State-licensed pesticide applicators.
We have implemented an IPM program (Integrated Pest Management) into our maintenance operation that includes field monitoring for weeds, insects and disease in the turf and landscape plantings, establishment of pest tolerance levels, reduction of stress on turf contributing to weed growth, and evaluation of management strategies. By following an IPM program we make pesticide applications only when necessary and where the pest exceeds tolerance levels. Applications of pesticides are done by a "target" treatment method only to the plant or area infested. This method eliminates the need for blanket application of pesticides, and reduces the amount of pesticide use. We do not do any preventive pesticide applications on turf or landscape planting areas. Correct cultural practices are a key element of our grounds maintenance program and include seeding of turf areas with varieties which perform well in our area, fertilization per soil test results, soil aeration, topdressing and mulching, proper mowing height, corrective pruning and irrigation if possible. The intent is to maintain a healthy stand of turf and plantings that will withstand occasional pest infestations and require only limited use of pesticides.
All applications are done as required to maintain the turf in a healthy condition. This is to promote aggressive turfgrass growth with the intent to crowd out undesirable weed growth. Soil samples are done on a rotating three-year schedule to determine nutrient and pH requirements for good turfgrass growth. Some of our athletic fields are soil tested one or two times a year. Most turf areas receive one application in the fall and one application in the spring. Applications are generally granular in nature. The source of nitrogen preferred is slow-release sulfur-coated methylene urea. We are continuously looking into integrating some natural organic fertilizer into our program. We have been testing several natural organic type fertilizers on some turf areas throughout the campus, unfortunately at this time the natural organic materials are much more expensive than other sources.
Weedkillers are currently used by target treatment, that is, spraying only the areas that warrant the use of herbicides to eliminate an infestation that is severely competing with the desirable turfgrasses. Our maintenance program does not include the broadcasting of herbicides over the entire campus. Our goal is not to have a perfectly weed-free turf, but turf that is of mostly desirable grasses that provide a safe and comfortable ground cover. Broad-leaf weeds are controlled through the use of 2,4-D. and application occurs at periods when the campus is least populated and athletic fields are not scheduled for use.
Currently our program does not include the use of pre-emergent herbicides anywhere on campus.
Total Vegetation Control
Total vegetation control is an important practice in our maintenance program. These applications reduce tremendously the amount of manual weeding in many areas such as fence lines, sign posts, parking lots, curb lines and sidewalks. The materials used include Roundup and Scythe, usually as a mixture. This application is generally done once and is done from late spring through the summer, depending on weed emergence and growth.
Currently our program does not include the use of fungicides on campus.
Currently our program does not include the use of insecticides on campus.
Tree and Shrub Spraying
Currently our program does not include the spraying of insecticides on our trees or shrubs. Occasionally we will apply a dormant oil to plants severely effected with scale to suffocate the insects.
Granulated sulfur is used when soil sample results indicate there is a need to lower the soil pH for preferred pH levels. Soil samples have not indicated the need to apply lime to raise pH levels to increase nutrient availability.
All campus turf areas are mowed weekly at approximately a 2 to 3 inch cut height. Athletic fields are mowed weekly at approximately a 3 to 4 inch cut height during the off season and from 1 to 2-1/2 inch cut during the playing season. During the playing seasons the athletic fields are mowed two to three times per week to encourage grass tillering and a denser surface. All grass clippings are left to decompose naturally to return nutrients to the actively growing grass plants, a method coined as grasscycling.
Worn, bare, thin and damaged turf areas are reseeded each spring and/or fall when soil temperatures are between 45 and 65 degrees. All of the seeding on areas greater then 100 square feet is done either by a mechanical sliceseeder or a hydroseeder; smaller areas will receive seed through broadcasting. As members of NYSTA (New York State Turfgrass Association), we are kept abreast of the "best" seed varieties available to use in various situations in our area. "Best", being defined as disease- resistant, requiring less fertilizer and/or water, resisting wear and tear, recovering from damage, over competing with weeds, dark green in appearance and mowable without tearing. The athletic fields require a more intense regimen of seeding practices because of the wear and tear that they receive.
Lawn areas that are damaged due to foot or vehicle traffic are core aerated and seeded annually to reduce compaction and promote improved growing conditions. The athletic fields are aerated from two to six times per year to relieve soil compaction as a result of higher use intensity. Aeration can occur throughout the year when weather allows; however, we try not to aerate during times of high weed seed germination, determined by taking soil temperatures.
Nearly all of our turf areas rely on natural rainfall for irrigation and during summer droughts many of these areas go dormant. Most of the athletic fields are irrigated regularly.
During the fall all turf and areas that collect leaves are raked or vacuumed to pick up fallen leaves. The grounds department has been composting these leaves since 1990. The composted material is recycled back into the campus landscape as topdressing and as a soil amendment in plantings.
Throughout the year the department collects debris from tree and shrub pruning and runs this material through a chipper to manufacture mulch. This material is then used to keep weeds down in plant beds while reducing the need to irrigate these beds, around trees to reduce and prevent mower and line trimmer damage and usage, as temporary walkway material around construction sites and as a base underneath the playground equipment at the daycare center, the exercise stations along the fitness trail, and beneath the ropes course.
Summary of Grounds Maintenance Program
- Monitor turf and landscape plantings to:
- detect stressed areas or plants
- evaluate treatments
- Establish pest-tolerance levels
- Reduce stress to turf by:
- selecting appropriate turf seed species mix
- reduce soil compaction
- adjusting mowing height
- prudent applications of fertilizer
- adequate irrigation practices
- remove leaves from turf
- where practical, give athletic fields a "rest"
- Reduce stress to plantings:
- select disease-resistant plant varieties
- incorporate plant diversity
- adequately mulch to reduce weed competition, irrigation and line trimming needs
- through proper pruning, remove weak or diseased hardwood