UAA puts a lot of effort into aesthetics, made most evident around campus courtesy of the Landscaping and
As opposed to having a single grounds crew, the department instated two separate groups, horticulture and turf, to be in charge of campus-wide maintenance. The horticulture shop has four full-time employees and three regular student workers, whereas the Turf crew consists of five regular employees. Each year, from April to October, eight temporary student workers are hired.
“One of the most challenging aspects of heading the Horticulture shop is trying to balance the campus while coping with budget constraints,” Pat Leary, UAA’s Landscaping Supervisor for Horticulture, said. “Students aren’t built into the budget—I sweat it every summer before they tell me how many kids I can hire. It’s important to find a good group who cares about keeping this place nice.”
The main duties of UAA’s plant crew include the care of perennial beds; maintenance of all ornamental trees, shrubs and wooded areas; designing the landscaping beds; providing advice to landscape architects; snow removal and trash pick-up. The horticulture department is also in charge of a campus-wide Tree Tour.
“The Tree Tour is a great addition to the department,” says full-time employee Mel Monsen. “Pat and I give a short, hour-long trip around the university and point out the different species of plants and trees. It’s really interesting.”
Landscape design is both an art and a science. Final aesthetic decisions are torn between what will look good and a concept called “right tree for the right place.”
“With perennials, we want something that blooms all the time,” Leary said. “Color’s not really a big issue, because a healthy plant always looks nice. Visualization is key; I designed the flower bed south of the Cuddy Hall just in my mind.”
Throughout campus there are 93 species of annual flowers, over 100 perennials and 130 different trees and shrubs.
However, there is more to UAA’s landscape than horticulture. The turf crew takes care of mowing, sodding and hydro-seeding all grassy areas. The five-man squad is also in charge of sign maintenance, raking, sweeping and painting all parking lots and sidewalks. They also handle sanding in the winter. Recently, the turf crew erected three bicycle shelters in the quad.
The passion and hard work both the Horticulture and Turf crews deliver around the Anchorage campus parallels the dedication required to be a successful student. And without them, UAA lawns would just look bad.