Grounds Maintenance & Landscaping
Ursinus College extends over 170 acres of which approximately 30-35 acres are maintained, either in lawn or in playing fields. These areas vary in their treatment: some are mown regularly; some have grass that must be maintained at particular heights; some areas are planted with shrubs interspersed with lawn. Of note, the campus does have a constructed wetland that is designed to filter stormwater runoff from the back part of the campus. This area has a management plan that is implemented by the Facilities Services Department.
Five of the campus’ 170 acres are maintained in forested cover adjacent to the campus, and approximately 85% of this forested land is in deciduous trees. The main campus has the benefit of a long history of planting and maintaining large trees. Approximately 65 acres of the campus have partial mature tree cover; these trees are primarily deciduous trees, many of which are in decline due to age, disease, or other factors. Though this is not a forested area, these trees do function to sequester some carbon; they also provide shade and wind protection for the buildings that are nearby as well as providing other benefits to the campus. The College’s Tree Master Plan recommends planting many additional trees to supplement trees that have already been lost to disease or environmental impacts as well as planting trees to increase the tree cover on the main campus.
Facilities Services has been integral in making decisions regarding: how to treat our grounds with less pesticide; planting and maintaining old and new trees; mulching leaves rather than landfilling them; reducing the need for watering the grounds through plantings; managing stormwater runoff; designing and implementing the construction of athletic fields to be more sustainable; and more.
We have prepared a tree master plan that addresses, at least briefly, a variety of topics in addition to trees, including: stormwater runoff, lawn maintenance and protection, native plant species, rain gardens, edible landscape opportunities, etc. (2011). This master plan will guide all future activities on the campus grounds by our workers. The college is currently undertaking strategic planning. This effort will likely be followed by a master planning effort.The tree master plan will need to be modified commensurate with the master plan. In 2004, as we were constructing the Kaleidoscope Theatre on our campus, we made a strategic decision to remove the road that transected the campus. This made our internal campus into a pedestrian campus. We were able to save the trees that had lined the internal road, and they now line a pedestrian thoroughfare. We have paths that traverse the campus and are suitable for pedestrians and bicycles.
We have an area where leaves are left to compost naturally. This lowers our waste disposal budget and allows for natural decomposition.