During the early summer months, we typically will cut our irrigated lawns two to three times a week to a height of 2.5 inches. We also insist that the lawns be cut in a different direction each time to avoid traffic patterns caused by the wheels of the mowers. Our irrigated lawns are fertilized every two to three weeks with a 5-4-5 organic fertilizer. We apply at a rate of .50 pound per 1,000 feet to promote consistent color and growth habits. Shaded areas, such as the lawns beneath our linden trees, are slice-seeded and/or overseeded usually two to three times during growing season. The rest of the turf on campus is fertilized during a cool period of the summer, with a second application of 30-2-10 slow-release fairway-grade fertilizer.
All flowers on campus are fertilized with a liquid 10-10-10 solution every two weeks to enhance color and growth. Flowers such as geraniums and marigolds are dead-headed as needed. The flowerbeds require periodic weeding.
Privet hedges are a very high maintenance feature on our campuses and are cut approximately every two weeks.
All annual flowers are removed and chrysanthemums planted in their place. As soon as the mums stop blooming, they are removed, and over 5,000 bulbs are planted. We purchase 2,000 daffodil bulbs and distribute them to students to plant in their residential areas.
Leaf removal on a large scale usually begins near the middle to end of October. We have a very short window to get the leaves picked up before winter sets in. Once the leaves have been removed, a fall application of 30-2-10 slow-release fertilizer and lime is applied. All irrigation systems are blown out, and backflow preventers are removed.
During football season, we set up all the functions related to the games being played. Barrels are placed in all the parking lots and tailgate areas. We clean up after the football games, beginning at midnight after the game. We clean and remove barrels in all of the parking lots, practice fields, and parking garages. We also pick up litter and trash within a two-mile radius surrounding the campus.
Our snow removal season typically starts near the beginning of January. Grounds employees are spread throughout the campus. In addition to our five plows, we lease one front-end loader and two Bobcats. If the snowfall exceeds three inches, we call in a plowing contractor to supplement our operation.
During the basketball and hockey seasons, we assist the Athletic Maintenance group with the installation and removal of a portable basketball floor in Conte Forum.
The arborist and gardener prune the rhododendrons and azaleas as needed. Due to the amount of trees on campus, only smaller trees are pruned to maintain their size and shape. It is also a good time for the removal of dead or diseased trees. Our 44 linden trees are pruned and cabled as needed by a contractor. The linden trees are root fed in early spring.
Boston College’s Commencement always occurs on the third Monday of May. The challenge is to grow new grass in a short period. As soon as the temperatures allow, the larger lawns are rolled to level off our lawn surfaces. Lawns are then thatched, aerated, and slice-seeded. Top dressing and overseeding is done where necessary. Areas that are completely walked off may be rotor-tilled and sodded. In high-traffic areas, a triblend of rye grasses is used. On our more formal lawns, a blend of rye, bluegrass, and fescue seed is used. We use blends of seeds so that if one type of grass becomes diseased, the entire lawn is not destroyed.
Under our linden trees, where almost no sun gets to the lawn surfaces, a blend of fescues and poa trivialis is planted. To speed up germination in this area, geo-textile tarps are placed over the turf surface to warm the soil. An application of humidate may also be applied. All areas are fertilized and, as soon as the seed starts to germinate, we apply liquid fertilizer to force the seed to grow quicker. The planting beds are edged, cleaned, and remulched.
The last frost of the season in Boston occurs the first week of May, not leaving much time to plant the 6,000 annuals for the spring and summer. This includes impatiens, begonias, marigolds, and other flowers. It takes us 120 man-hours to plant all annuals, including the Boston College flower logo behind McGuinn Hall.
As stated earlier, Commencement always falls on the third Monday of May. Most of the flowers, shrubs, and trees were selected because they bloom at this time of the year. As mentioned above, all Commencement functions are set up by our department. During the six weeks leading up to Commencement, most of the staff works an average of 60 hours a week.
The night prior to Commencement, all vehicles are towed off campus, and all parking lots are swept. All walks and stairs are swept and washed as needed. The staff works from midnight to 3:00 p.m. the same day of Commencement.
The following are examples of in-house projects performed by the Grounds Department:
- Campus Green (dig trench for electricians to repair electrical lines between light poles)
- College road irrigation installation
- Mods (reseed and grow grass in the most challenging dorm setting)
- 66 Commonwealth Ave. Dorm (remove asphalt, move curbs, extend irrigation)
- Edmonds (build wall to protect tree)
- Hillsides slope (strip out overgrowth, install waffle block, and sod)
Routine full-service maintenance repair is provided at the on-campus vehicle maintenance garage. This area services approximately 100 vehicles and an additional 150 pieces of off-road equipment. An inventory of replacement parts is maintained onsite to provide safe, economical, and timely repairs for all equipment. Vehicle maintenance work orders should be input via Agora.
The Grounds Department performs most of the on-campus office moves and deliveries from the University warehouse to and from campus. In coordination with the Bureau of Conferences Department, Grounds also sets up and breaks down University-sponsored conferences.