A college or university campus with its rolling hills, shade trees, vast turf expanses, and gathering nooks surrounded by educational buildings is a special environment. Students get to soak in the sights while they expand their educational horizon.

Landscaping and outdoor areas are a huge portion of this environment. They are a big part in subconsciously attracting more students to your institution.

What does that mean for you if you are commissioned with the oversight of the facilities and grounds of your campus in either Northeast or Southeast Ohio? You have to stay on top of landscape-related issues and many other numerous tasks at your college campus. 

Let’s narrow that to-do list of the most common landscaping problems at colleges and universities and how you can stay ahead of these issues to prevent bigger, more expensive problems down the road. 

10 Frequent Landscaping Problems and Solutions for Colleges and Universities 

When a person buys a home, they purchase the entire property -- landscape and all. Believe it or not, when students attend colleges for four or more years, those places -- all the buildings and classrooms and living spaces -- become their second homes. And this includes the exteriors. 

College campus landscape

Outdoor areas become common gathering spaces for students. They are also the first areas prospective students see as they visit a campus for the first time. 

Let’s take a look. 

1. Standing Water 

It’s no big surprise that standing water would become an issue on a college campus. They are instant trouble spots. 

Not only can frequent standing water signal a nearby drainage problem, but water that stands for even only a few days can lead to increased mosquito populations. No students want to hang out amid a swarm of biting pests. What’s more is that water will drag mud along with it … along walkways and into buildings. These areas basically become unusable. 

As with any common landscaping problem at colleges and universities, it can start small and lead to larger problems if ignored. Sometimes it takes some proper grading to fix the problem or manage the water flow. Other times, french drains, rain gardens or even dry creek beds can create a most permanent solution to a spot that tends to over-collect water. 

2. Erosion Issues 

Like standing water, as rain flows on a property over and over again, some common issues can emerge. 

If there is a hilly spot that isn’t graded properly or maybe a retaining wall nearby wasn’t built properly or is no longer doing its job, then mud and debris will continue to move and leak onto walkways and create additional issues. 

These threats include trip-and-fall hazards, as well as unattractive areas that don’t serve a useful or aesthetic purpose on the college campus anymore. 

The solution to this common landscaping problem is to evaluate the cause of the issue and fix it before it becomes a bigger problem. 

3. Overgrown Trees & Shrubs 

Trees and shrubs that are left to grow wild can get pretty unwieldy. And plants left to their own devices can be a detriment to your campus. 

First, they are unsightly to look at, which doesn’t add to a university’s appeal. 

But, a bigger issue, is they pose numerous safety and security hazards. Overgrown branches can get in the way for students walking on campus pathways. They can also block doorways and windows and creating security risks at night as these often turn into areas security cameras and lighting can’t reach.

The solution to this common landscaping problem on a college or university campus is to prune trees and shrubs twice annually: early summer and fall. Additionally, dormant pruning, which is pruning during the winter when the tree is dormant and will experience less stress, can be helpful. Then, we can make larger cuts to help create more vigorous growth in the spring. 

4. Brown, Dying Grass

Burnt or dead grass is not appealing on a home landscape; and it’s also certainly not appealing on university grounds. And when grass burns out and becomes thin, weeds use that as an opportunity to take over. Once grass dies out, erosion issues can also result. 

What’s more, this can signal disease or irrigation issues that, without attention, can change from a minor fix to a major one that hits your budget much harder.  

5. Surface Challenges

When pathways buckle or roots grow and disrupt walkways, uneven ground results. 

Uneven ground leads to one big liability issue for colleges and universities: trips and falls. 

The solution to this common landscaping problem is assessing the issue and deciding what fix would be best long-term. For instance, grading the soil or a walkway or concrete repair may be necessary but other situations may need tree removal and redirection of pedestrian traffic with a new walkway pattern.

Also, it’s important to regularly check hardscape stability to prevent retaining wall failures, maintain cracks and stay ahead of any safety issues. 

6. Compacted Turf

Just as unsightly grass can pose a common landscaping problem for colleges and universities, compacted turf can run the same risks. All those thousands of feet walking on a college campus over and over again are what lead to this turf compaction. 

Compacted turf can lead to increased turf problems, such as weeds, disease and dead patches. An annual aeration and overseeding in the fall can help prevent compacted turf, keeping it healthy and preventing you from having to add costly turf repairs to your budget. 

7. Old, Dull Mulch

Annual mulch is a great addition to landscape beds on a college campus. It can keep weeds at bay, help retain moisture for plants, and instantly freshen the property visually. 

While annual mulch applications are preferred, freshening mulch by turning it over can help make an application last two years and still give you some benefits if budget is a challenge. This is as long as it was applied properly and to an adequate depth the prior year. 

8. Trash and Debris Patrol

Trash pickup may seem like a simple one but, if left neglected for even a small amount of time, trash can pile up on a campus environment. This trash includes twig and leaf litter or even natural debris that can result after a windy or stormy day. 

Stay ahead of this common landscaping problem by having trash picked up regularly, as well as trash patrol completed throughout the property daily to prevent trash and debris from piling up on the grounds. 

9. Uninspired Seasonal Color

Most colleges and universities have a twice or thrice annual seasonal color changeout. This is where their annual flowerbeds are freshened up with the seasons to create regular pops of color and interest on the property. 

When done right, flowers are typically installed by a dedicated seasonal color or enhancement crew. Typically, maintenance crews don’t have that same landscape designer eye or attention to detail that these projects require. Well-designed seasonal color should stand out and have an immediate impact. Trying to just throw annual flowers together last-minute each season usually doesn’t make as much of an impression. 

The trick to this landscaping problem and solution is to have an expert or dedicated crew draw up the plans and focus on the changeouts during the year so it doesn’t get neglected and is done properly. 

10. Lack of Sitting Areas and Meeting Spots

College is more than the desks or chairs in a lecture hall. Students use the entire campus, including the outdoor areas, to study, read, have meals, meet friends, and just relax or pass time. 

That’s why green spaces are such a huge draw for students considering your Northeastern or Southeastern Ohio college as a potential place to call home and advance their education. Having places to unwind is necessary for students throughout the day, so keep these in mind when looking over your landscape maintenance needs and assessing areas for improvement or renovation. 

Let Us Help You with Your Common Landscaping Problems 

Today’s discerning college students and their parents are looking to invest top dollar in their higher education. And, maybe it’s not fair, but they judge the book by its cover: that is, your university or college campus by its outdoor presence

Turfscape providing landscape maintenance at Kent State University

We know you have a lot of facilities and operations headaches that need your attention. Hopefully, this list helps you target the worst outdoor issues head-on so you can feel confident. 

Turfscape can assist you by offering a customized, proactive campus maintenance program. From proper lawn care to mowing/maintenance to trash patrol to spring and fall cleaning and regular pruning, as well as seasonal color boosts and enhancements, we can become an addition to your team and make sure these common landscaping problems don’t get out of hand. 

Want a more beautiful Northeastern or Southeastern Ohio campus? Request a proposal for a customized plan. Together, we can help your grounds and you look nothing but amazing.

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