Three Sustainable Groundskeeping Ideas

By Daniel G. Schied, CGM
From the February 2021 Issue of Facility Executive

As individuals charged with the maintenance and stewardship of either entire facilities or aspects within them, when facilities professionals hear the word “sustainable” we often wonder what the cost associated with that effort may be. We think about our budgets and bottom lines.

In many instances this can be a false way to look at this since some efforts may be cost-neutral, or may even save valuable resources of labor and materials. Let’s look at some opportunities within grounds operations that may provide some low hanging fruit allowing both environmental and fiscal prudence.

Sustainable Groundskeeping
At Cornell University, engineering students designed a solar powered trailer for the grounds department’s use. (Photo: Daniel G. Schied)


1. Mowing Practices. Does your site have some areas that are challenging to mow safely? Have you considered a meadow? A meadow can be a fancy term for just letting the grass grow, while encouraging some naturalism and supporting pollinators in the process. I am not qualified to comment on the challenges our pollinator populations are facing, but that should not suggest that simple efforts to assist their activities can’t be found. Celebrate your effort with signage while giving the pollinators a place to thrive!

Another simple approach to benefit pollinator populations is to consider a “No Mow May.” Are there sections around your facility in which you could allow the lawn areas to grow for the month of May, encouraging pollinator habitat? This initiative could also be extolled with signage highlighting your team’s efforts to reduce carbon emissions and support local honey production. This would require a gradual reduction in mowing height over the first few cuttings as you should not mow this longer grass back to its normal height with the first cut…

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