The Grounds Unit within the Department of Building and Landscape Services and the University’s Golf Course are always looking for ways to reduce their environmental footprint. The use of native species and other techniques have both beautified the University main campus and brought international praise for the Golf Course grounds.
One of the main concerns of the Grounds Unit is the proper placement of plants to the site. This decision prevents many future problems with insects, disease, and death of the plant. For example, the Grounds crew does not plant azalea bushes in the sun because the plants will become infested with Lace bugs. These bugs leave shaded azaleas alone, allowing the plants to grow.
The Grounds crew has been incorporating native plants into established plantings. In addition to being well suited to Maryland’s soil and climate, the reintroduction of native species has increased the campus’s biodiversity and has helped attract beneficial insects.
Although the Grounds crew does occasionally use pesticides, these chemicals are used sparingly through an Integrated Pest Management Plan. Some organic products, such as horticultural oil, are used to control unwanted insects.
The University Golf Course was certified as an Audubon International Wildlife Sanctuary. The mature hardwood forest offers many habitats to a diversity of plant and animal species. Trees here are allowed to live their complete lifecycle; a dead tree whose placement does not endanger the public is left to stand and fall on its own becoming a magnet for woodpeckers and other birds. Understory growth is encouraged in the wooded areas as the young trees will be the mature trees of tomorrow. A few years ago, one of the dams holding back a retaining pond failed and a one-acre pond became a four-acre wetland. This event was quickly seen as an opportunity to create a home for wildlife. Today, blue herons are common visitors and a bald eagle was sighted in January 2007.