Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

UA groundskeepers aren’t just grasscutters

No matter what surrounding cities look like, The University of Alabama campus seems to maintain a healthy glow, and it’s not due to a special blessing on Tide Country.

“We have a pretty dedicated team,” said Duane Lamb, assistant vice president of facilities and grounds operations. “They take great pride in what they do.”

Lamb said he manages about 65 employees in landscaping, but over 550 people work for him in total.

“Lots of people, when they think of grounds, they think of folks cutting grass,” Lamb said. “But our grounds department is so much more than that,” he said.

About half of the workers are not horticulturists. Lamb said the staff is much more specialized than the average person thinks, comprised of a garbage crew, street sweepers, a tree crew, technicians and construction workers. They’ve also installed about 1,500 trees since Lamb has arrived, he said.

Lamb said UA was ranked the third most beautiful campus in the country. His team has worked hard to make UA appealing and comfortable, which he believes has played a major role in student enrollment.

“Well before they ever get to a classroom or talk to an administrator or professor, they’ve made up their mind,” he said. “Sixty two percent make their decision within the first 15 minutes.”

Including personnel and materials, the total budget for grounds maintenance last year was $3.2 million, Cathy Andreen, director of media relations, said. Revenue sources for maintenance included state appropriations, gifts, contracts and grants, she said.

“These revenues cover the costs of operating the University and allow the University to provide the high-quality educational experience our students and their parents expect,” Andreen said.

His team also places about 250 portable toilets in strategic locations across campus and maintains eight restroom trailers for game day.

While fans revel in game day activities, his staff gears up for the hours ahead. He said they begin cleaning while the game’s going on and might be out until 11 or 12 p.m.

The staff aims for clear grounds by noon on Sunday, with a goal of restoring the quad by the time everyone leaves church, Lamb said.

Employees operate about 24 different types of lawnmowers on campus that come in different sizes. Additionally, grounds keepers receive training from general instruction to how to drive a golf cart correctly and safely.

Lamb said he also oversees about 85 irrigation systems on campus, each containing multiple sprinklers. The systems are hooked to an electronic weather system, but some hydraulic systems are not electronic yet.

“As we renovate a new area, we put in a new system,” he said.

Michelle Hindman, a junior majoring in chemical engineering, said the system still needs improvement.

“The main problem I have is the way the sprinkler system is set up,” she said. “It’s mainly just water-wasting. They’re mainly just sprinkling the sidewalks instead of sprinkling the grass.”


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