Maintaining U grounds an expensive undertaking

Elizabeth Cook

Around Minneapolis grass has turned a crunchy brown because of below-average rainfall this summer.

The vegetation around the University, however, remains a lush green thanks to the attention of an army of University-funded landscapers.

Landcare, a department of Facilities Management in charge of landscaping, receives about $2.8 million a year from tuition and state payments, according to Jennifer Rowe, communications spokeswoman from Facilities Management.

Les Potts, ground supervisor for Landcare at Facilities Management, said most of that money goes to labor and the rest goes to supplies.

During the summer there are 95 full-time employees and about 70 of them are University students, Potts said.

They work 40 hours a week, eight hours a day and start at $8.25 an hour, Potts said.

Bobbi Ryan, a biology sophomore who was edging the grass by Pillsbury Hall, said she’s been working at Landcare for almost a year.

Ryan primarily spends her days tending to annuals and perennials on campus and thinks it’s important that the University looks nice.

Potts said the workers are in charge of mowing, helping remove trees, watering, picking up litter, planting flowers, pruning, irrigation maintenance and installation.

Potts said it’s important for the University to keep up on landscaping and making the area look good.

“It’s the first thing you see,” he said.

When prospective students and parents come to look at the University it gives a positive message and experience, he said.

“It gives you a sense that the University takes care of things,” Potts said.

Javier Fernandez is at the University for three months, visiting from Spain to work on his thesis, and said he likes the way the grounds look.

“If I compare this campus with a campus in Spain, this is much better,” he said.

He said the college campus he is used to is only a street with buildings on both sides and no flowers.

Theater senior Peter Kenyon said he was shocked to hear how much the University spends on landscaping and doesn’t see where it’s all going.

“I don’t think there’s a lot of landscaping to be done,” he said. “It’s really just buildings, not open garden.”

Journalism junior Katie Kelly said she likes the work the University puts into looking clean and green.

“It’s more pleasing,” she said. “But it shouldn’t go to excess.”