Bath Spa in Bloom: 10 things our Grounds Team are doing this summer to keep our campuses looking beautiful
One of the first things you’ll notice when you come to our campuses is how gorgeous they are - but you may not have noticed the team of amazing groundskeepers who do all the hard work. We asked Grounds Manager Penny Snowden to share some of the things her team is doing this summer to help keep us looking our best (and maintain our street cred as a sustainable university). Here are ten of them:
1. Maintaining the pitches for visiting summer school students
There are four football pitches and two volleyball pitches that are marked out on the sportsfield. “The lines need to be repainted every fortnight and the grass needs cutting and feeding to cope with the wear and tear of play,” Penny says. At the end of the summer the goal posts are put back up and the usual pitches are reinstated for our students.
“We mulch with wood chip as much as possible, which helps retain moisture in the ground and suppress some weed growth,” Penny says, “but there are always plenty of weeds to deal with!”
3. Routine mowing
At Newton Park the team regularly cuts the formal areas, such as the lawns around Main House and the Italian Garden. Elsewhere there’s a range of long grass and wildflower areas; some lawns are cut less frequently to allow short flowering species and other areas such as the walled garden have lovely flowering meadows. “Some of the wilder areas are allowed to grow until the following spring to provide somewhere for the bugs and beasties to live through the winter,” Penny says.
There's a range of grassland types at Sion Hill too, which are managed in a similar way. At Locksbrook Campus the meadow alongside the River Avon is in full bloom all summer and cut in late September - ready for the spring bulbs to come through next year.
At Newton Park the team regularly cuts the formal areas, such as the lawns around Main House and the Italian Garden.
The team tries to keep most of the planting to spring and autumn to avoid the dry weather, but summer is the best time to work on the borders in the car park. “We’re filling in some gaps in the herbaceous plantings in those beds and we always buy plants that are bee and butterfly friendly wherever possible,” Penny says.
Water is a precious resource, so the team only waters what is necessary. “But never the lawns - that would be very wasteful!” Penny says. Over the winter the team planted 33 trees as well as some herbaceous plants. In their first year the root systems aren’t developed enough to cope with the summer, so watering is essential to help them ‘put down their roots’ in their new home.
6. Pruning and training
For our fruit trees, there’s plenty of summer pruning, which thins out the foliage to allow the fruit to ripen, and training and tying in new growth as many of the fruit trees are quite newly planted. “This is a constant process and we’re always chasing our tail with it!” Penny says. Then there is the winter pruning...
Gooseberries, redcurrants, blackcurrants and whitecurrants are all harvested in early summer and go to the Refectory for use in their homemade crumbles!
Fruit, gooseberries, redcurrants, blackcurrants and whitecurrants are all harvested in early summer. These go down to the Refectory for use in their homemade crumbles!
There’s always lots of debris to sweep up - mostly petals, leaves, seed husks, dust and gravel. “It's a slow machine but you can't rush the brush, so we do ask drivers to be patient!” Penny says.
9. Machine maintenance
All of their kit goes away for annual servicing and major repairs, but the team carry out small repairs and day to day checks, sharpening blades, and more to keep everything chopping… er, running smoothly!
Water is a precious resource, so the team only waters what is necessary. “But never the lawns - that would be very wasteful!”
10. Looking after the lake
In England, reservoirs that are capable of holding 25,000m³ or more of water are regulated under the Reservoirs Act 1975. The lake at Newton Park holds around 40,500m³, so each week the team must carry out an inspection and record relevant data. They also have to keep the spillway clear of vegetation. Penny says, “We do this when there's not much water flow in summer, but unfortunately there are usually plenty of horseflies around then too!”
We’re #BathSpaProud of all the work our grounds team does. To find out more, check out their Instagram to see the fruits (and flowers and trees and insects…) of their labour!
Disclaimer: The Bath Spa blog is a platform for individual voices and views from the University's community. Any views or opinions represented in individual posts are personal, belonging solely to the author of that post, and do not represent the views of other Bath Spa staff, or Bath Spa University as an institution.
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