UNF's Landscape and Grounds Department responsibilities cover 1,300 acres of campus. Staff focuses on the central core of about 100 acres. This staff takes care of the landscapes and turf, a huge irrigation system, outdoor trash receptacles and litter. They also help with a wide assortment of special events.
In 2005, President Delaney initiated a Campus Beautification Program that resulted in the planting of over 10,000 plants in the first year. New plantings continue at a steady pace.
Nearly one hundred acres of land is irrigated at UNF. From 2006 to 2011, UNF Grounds reduced irrigation water consumption by forty percent and switched to more sustainable water sources. Prior to 2005, most of UNF’s irrigation water came from wells. As Jacksonville’s population grows, demand for high quality water from wells is beginning to exceed the supply of the Florida Aquifer. In 2012, most of UNF’s irrigation water comes from reclaimed water and surface (lake and pond) water.
At the same time, UNF has reduced its demand for irrigation water. This reduction is a result of a new computerized pump and irrigation control system, the repair of old, leaky pipes and increased planting of drought tolerant plants. The new computerized control system changes irrigation times according to the weather and alerts the irrigation shop to problems in the irrigation system. For example, a rapid rise in water flow indicates a broken pipe. If severe, the system will turn off a section to avoid wasting water. Old, leaky irrigation water mains have been replaced. Also, since 2005, plants for the campus landscape have been selected for their ability to thrive with low levels of irrigation, fertilizer and pesticides. Irrigation is no longer unnecessary for some landscape beds. The staff is trialing new plants, too. Since the main campus is mostly on high, dry sandy soil, we are trying more plants from the American southwest. Desert plants that survive in the humidity in the gardens of eastern Texas are of particular interest because they have a reasonable chance of surviving in north Florida’s humid environment.
In 2010, Physical Facilities hired Robert Richardson, then in the Engineering Department, to record GPS coordinates for over 2400 trees on campus and map each of them. With the completed map in hand, Grounds began its first annual evaluation of the 388 largest trees (6” diameter DBH or greater) on campus. Certified arborist, John Moscarillo, rates at the condition of the tree, notes any needed horticultural treatments and notes changes since the previous evaluation. Besides the general health of each tree, he considers risks to the campus population. Damage to structures by roots, pruning needs, dying limbs that might fall, and dying trees that might harm people and property are considered. The evaluation also records the losses of campus trees and the causes.
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