Planting Bed Management
- The college has several planting beds around campus that enhance the beauty of the grounds through the use of varying plant color and plant height.
- We buy bedding plants from local growers using site specific plants and shrubs.
- The use of perennials and grasses that need reduced care and water, mulching with native hardwood bark, and subsurface and drip irrigation are standard practices on campus.
Turf and Soil Management
The Grounds Department employs many environmentally sound turf management practices:
- Staff does not bag clippings from mowing.
- All mowing is at 2 1/2 to 3 inches in height.
- We use spot spraying for weeds as opposed to total coverage spraying.
- Staff mulches 100% of leaves into the turf and only removes leaves when necessary to protect the turf.
- There is a reduced mowing frequency on lower priority sites.
- We utilize integrated pest management practices.
- Much of our mowing equipment uses alternative fuel sources (bio-diese and electric.)
- We use grass seed instead of new sod where practical in new or bare areas.
- Cultural care waste from pruning and bed clean up is collected for composting.
- Grass clippings from the athletic fields are composted on site.
- We purchase locally composted soil, take soil tests twice a year, use organic fertilizers when possible, and use organic pest control products.
- We use water management software and monitoring systems for irrigation and we employ a full time irrigation technician to monitor and repair the programmable systems and the thousands of sprinkler heads around campus.
- The Grounds department worked with the Holland Board of Public Works (HPBW) to install a gray water irrigation line for use in our core campus. This will allow HBPW to reduce the level of filtration for water designated for irrigation only. The HBPW has the gray water project in its master plan for its water treatment plant.
- The college replaces its trees through purchase and contract growing with local tree farmers.
- Grounds staff use water bags for the first year and during high stress times.
- We install bubbler zones (that can be eliminated after plant establishment) for new plantings.
- Some other techniques we use include structural pruning, site specific plant placement, using trees that produce feed stock for birds and provide cover for nesting birds, planting at a spacing that provides for future natural development of the tree’s full size potential, placement that allows for a building’s shading or sun exposure, and planting native and zone hardy species.
- We support campus and local community environmental awareness education activities through tree planting ceremonies on Earth Day and Arbor Day.