Auburn University receives national grounds management award
Auburn University’s Landscape Services Department recently received national recognition for its excellence in grounds management.
The award given by the Professional Grounds Management Society recognized Auburn with a Grand Award as part of the Society’s 2022 Green Star Awards competition. It is the highest award given in the Educational Institutions, University and College Grounds Large Category (500-plus acres).
“We have a strategy for keeping campus beautiful for the Auburn Family and it begins with the landscaping team,” said Justin Sutton, director of Facilities Management’s Landscape Services Department. “Teamwork is what it is all about.”
Landscaping’s 49-member team works through the hottest days of the summer and the coldest of winter to keep the university’s more than 685 acres of the main campus beautiful year-round.
“While grounds’ management includes daily work such as mowing, edging, trimming, weeding, et cetera, it also requires strategy and planning to provide spacious green spaces and annual color for current faculty, staff and students, and as well as future generations to enjoy,” Sutton said.
A few of these strategies which helped bring recognition to Auburn include planning for annual color, water conservation, weed prevention, caring for natural areas and installation of native plants and trees.
“We are a Bee Campus, USA and a Tree Campus, USA,” Sutton said, “Which means we are a pollinator friendly campus providing plenty of native plants for our bees and other pollinators. We also monitor and care for more than 10,000 trees located on the main campus. We plant at least 100 trees each year.
"We plant those trees knowing that we will not reap the benefits. Those trees are planted for generations to come so that they can enjoy campus just as much as we do today.”
Landscaping also received the award for special projects such as planting red, white and blue flowering plants around the Samford Hall flagpole to honor the university’s ROTC students who raise the American flag each morning and also inlaying the Auburn University logo in rye grass in front of historic Ross Hall one year as a tribute to the spring graduating class.
“Our motto is to always be able to say that campus has never looked better,’” Sutton said. “We are always striving for the next big thing, always working to improve. That is our goal and our motto that we live by each day.”
Submitted by: Martha Gentry