My Landscape: Grand Award For University Grounds


Founded in 1831 in Granville, OH, the Denison University campus highlights include its 250-acre hilltop section, a 350-acre Biological Reserve, and a historic golf club. The recent award from PGMS recognizes the results of the work performed by the grounds crew there.

Kevin Mercer, grounds and landscape services manager at Denison, heads up the team that performs this work.

Denison University
Swasey Chapel, built in 1924, is Georgian Revival in style. The tower is a landmark and can be seen on its hilltop location from all highway approaches to Granville.

In October 2019, Denison University’s grounds crew earned national recognition for their work in sustainably maintaining and beautifying the college’s campus. The Professional Grounds Management Society (PGMS) bestowed its Grand Award and the inaugural Environmental Green Star Award upon Kevin Mercer, Denison’s grounds and landscape manager, at its annual conference held in Louisville, KY.

The Green Star Awards program by PGMS brings national recognition to grounds maintained with a high degree of excellence, complementing other national landscape award programs that recognize outstanding landscape design and construction.

The Grounds department at Denison is responsible for the 930+ acres, including 30 acres of athletic fields. Responsibilities include general landscaping for the campus, which entails mowing, pruning, planting, athletic field maintenance, parking lots, roadways, sidewalks, outside trash removal, leaf clean-up and snow removal. Special landscaping projects and exterior signage are also the responsibility of this department.

Great Work, From The Grounds Team

Upon receiving the award from PGMS in Fall 2019, Mercer credited his team for their work saying, “Having a small crew with big demands is always a challenge, but with this team, anything is possible—and trust me I have been around. This crew is the best of the best.”

He outlined a program that offers a proactive approach for maintaining the college’s environmental stewardship, as well as maintaining the function of the campus landscape’s aesthetics.

“I always try focus on the little details of the grounds and equipment before anything big can escalate,” said Mercer. “I was taught never to take anything for granted and appreciate everyone that has help you along the way. I love this business.”

Denison University
A view of Chapel Walk on the campus of Denison University

Said David English, Denison’s vice president of finance and management, “Kevin and his crew give a truly valuable service to Denison. We provide a real home for our students during most of their four years in college. It’s important to us that the buildings and grounds are both attractive and well-maintained.”

English continued, “Evidence of this good work is that Denison makes regular appearances on ‘Most Beautiful Campus’ lists. That wouldn’t be possible without the dedication, creativity, and hard work this team puts in every day. I am grateful to Kevin and the entire grounds crew for their hard work, which is recognized in this award.”

Do you have a comment? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below or send an e-mail to the Editor at

Click here to read more My Landscape articles from Turf magazine.

Want to talk about landscape maintenance with fellow lawn care and landscape professionals? Join the discussions in the Landscape Maintenance Forum at