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Sustainability at Wake Forest

Posts Tagged ‘Landscaping Services’

Nurturing Natives

Wednesday, October 16th, 2013

Click the photo to view more pictures of native plants on campus.

With numerous breathtaking views, Wake Forest University’s beauty goes beyond the brick and mortar that composes the bones of the campus – it’s also in the Magnolia trees that outline Manchester Plaza, the curry-colored Black-Eyed Susans in front of Alumni Hall, and the Oakleaf Hydrangeas that transition from white to pink, welcoming students into their residence halls. These beautiful plants do more than add to the splendor of campus, however. They are native to the area and therefore support the wellbeing of the local ecology.

As David Davis, WFU manager of landscaping services can attest, successful landscape design entails planning for size, site requirements, and aesthetics. Davis takes it a step further, bearing in mind subtle elements like attraction for pollinators, fragrance, and even sound. One example of this process is the planting of native grasses near a bench where the sound of their dried dormant foliage can be appreciated on a breezy day. Such grasses are just one of the 20-25 staple native cultivars that are incorporated into the Wake Forest landscape.

Davis has planted native species, or what he calls pre-European flora, intentionally. The Winston Hall rain garden, a certified Monarch Waystation might be one of the more familiar native planting sites on campus. Davis is making a point to add “native islands” in parking lots and in front of residence halls too. At the front of Bostwick Residence Hall, he has replaced the English Ivy with a robust mix of native PowWow Wild Berry Coneflowers, switchgrasses, and Moonbeam Coreopsis. Similar native islands were planted near faculty/staff parking lots, F, G, and H.

Although it is evident Davis is a supporter of native plantings, he recognizes that placing only native species across campus is not always appropriate; the microclimates created by the urban environment severely limit plant selection. A hearty mix of natives and non-native species takes advantage of the unique qualities of each plant in the landscape. In front of Alumni Hall, the native Purple Muhly Grass glimmers next to non-native shrubs. At Farrell Hall, the native Sweet Kate pops in a landscape with non-natives like the Japanese Red Maple tree.

It is important to note that principles of sustainability are considered even when incorporating ornamental plants into the landscape. Davis selects vegetation that will thrive in the immediate environment and that requires minimal maintenance. In theory, such considerations may seem obvious. But in reality, aesthetics often outweigh practicality and sustainability for some landscapers.

Davis even opted to go native while landscaping the area around The Barn. Early succession Virginia Pines stand as the backdrop for the LEED Silver-certified building, but it is the surrounding vegetation that warrants a second look. The central island in the driving loop outside The Barn consists of natives that have flourished in the damp environment, fed by the runoff from the road. Other native vegetation frames the area: cedars, American Holly, Bracken Fern, Sassafrass, Eastern Redbuds, Flowering Dogwoods, and Serviceberry trees.

The research and knowledge that is necessary to choose the appropriate cultivars is just one example of the work required to effectively landscape with natives. A current undertaking that requires even more preparation is the invasive plant eradication along the Reynolda Village walking trail. Invasive species targeted for removal include Kudzu, Porcelain Vine, Bush Killer Vine, Wisteria, and Japanese Stilt Grass. EPA and NCDA-approved aquatic herbicides are being sprayed to eliminate the plants along Silas Creek. Once this first phase is complete, the area will be populated with natives that will be aesthetically pleasing, that will provide habitat for pollinators, and will stabilize the soil in the area.

Landscaping with native plants might be considered trendy. For Davis, however, it is not a fleeting idea – it’s a priority. As Wake Forest University strives for excellence in teaching and research, Davis notes that it is important for the facilities to do the same, creating landscaping that reflects the values of the university.

By Hannah Slodounik, Program Coordinator

A new tree honors Tu B’Shevat

Monday, February 4th, 2013

Tu B'ShevatWake Forest Hillel, the Office of Sustainability, and Landscaping Services partnered for a celebration of Tu B’Shevat, the Jewish New Year for trees, on Friday, February 1st.

Students and staff braced against the cold on the Benson Circle to plant a new willow oak in honor of the holiday, a celebration of connectedness.

Shoshanna Goldin, president of Hillel, welcomed guests at the event and Dedee DeLongpre-Johnston, Director of the Office of Sustainability gave an explication of Tu B’Shevat. Nicky Vogt, an intern for the Campus Garden, contributed a poem, and Rabbi Michael Gisser, spoke on the spiritual significance of the gathering and provided context for the holiday within the larger Jewish tradition.

Following the speakers, guests took up shovels and worked together to fill in soil around the tree donated by Landscaping Services.

Wake Forest’s Tu B’Shevat celebration occurred slightly later than the actual January 25th date of the holiday. This delay was an intentional accommodation of students’ schedules, but, as Rabbi Gisser quipped, attendees would have been “blown away” by last Friday’s wind and sleeting rain.

A Shabbat dinner, also hosted by Wake Forest Hillel, followed the outdoor celebration.

By Annabel Lang, Wake Forest Fellow for the Office of Sustianability

Rain garden solves erosion problem

Sunday, July 1st, 2012
Rain Garden

Click the photo to view more pictures of the rain garden.

This spring Landscaping Services staff implemented an innovative solution to an erosion problem caused by copper runoff from the roof of Winston Hall. Runoff from copper rain gutters and roofs, commonplace across North Carolina, can be a source of soil contamination. The idea is simple. As stormwater washes off the copper roof, small traces of metal are carried along with the water into the soil. Since copper is a recognized biocide, copper-contaminated runoff can kill plants over time, contributing to soil erosion.

Some North Carolina institutions have chosen to scrap their copper gutters and replace them with other metals that leach “less harmful” agents. Landscaping Services Manager David Davis proposed a different solution to the copper runoff problem at Winston Hall: a rain garden.

The North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources (NCDENR) created the Community Conservation Assistance Program (CCAP) to fund people and institutions with ideas that improve local water quality by reducing stormwater run-off and resultant erosion. Davis used funding from CCAP to subsidize installation of the rain garden. Landscaping Services also purchased recycled concrete aggregate, which was then buried in the path of the water. The copper ions in the water bind to the concrete rubble, effectively removing the contaminant from the water. The concrete aggregate replicates the effects of the many existing concrete storm drains around campus, which remove copper from stormwater runoff.

After laying the concrete aggregate, Davis and his team filled in the area with indigenous plants like Paw-Paw, Spice Bushes, and Black-Eyed Susans to further prevent erosion and take up the clean water.

The native plants in the rain garden also serve as invaluable habitat for migrating Monarch butterflies. The rain garden is now a certified Monarch Waystation.

Since Winston Hall is home to the university’s Biology Department and Environmental Program, this garden will also provide a useful outdoor laboratory for biology and environmental science students in Winston Hall. Professors from the Biology Department have already expressed interest in mapping the site and charting its growth, as part of their curriculum.

By Joey DeRosa, Communications and Outreach Intern

Partnership celebrates trees

Monday, February 20th, 2012

Tu B'ShevatThe Office of Sustainability, Landscaping Services and Wake Forest Hillel joined together to celebrate Tu B’Shevat, the Jewish New Year of Trees. On February 10, students and staff members gathered to plant a willow oak tree on a green patch of earth in the loop between Reynolda Hall and Reynolds Gym. In addition to their efforts on campus, Wake Forest Hillel also sponsored the planting of three trees in Israel as part of the celebration.

“Tu B’Shevat may be a lesser known Jewish holiday, but it’s one of my favorites,” freshman Shoshanna Goldin, Wake Forest Hillel Social Action Co-Chair, remarked. “It combines Tikuun Olam, the Hebrew term for ‘Healing the world,’ with a celebration of life and nature. Tu B’Shevat focuses on appreciating the little things in nature that we otherwise might miss – the budding flowers on a tree, the perfect apple, the smell of rain.”

Carrie Stokes, campus garden intern in the Office of Sustainability offered a moment of reflection at the celebration during her recitation of “Stream of Life” by Indian poet, Rabindranath Tagore. “I found that this poem not only stressed the interconnectedness between all members of the university, but also our ties to the earth which sustain our lives.”

Wake Forest Hillel also paid homage to the earth by putting a vegetarian twist on their regular biweekly Shabbat Dinner. Many members of the sustainability office joined in, breaking challah, with members of Hillel to commemorate the successful planting of the willow oak.

This event is only the first of many to come in a fruitful partnership between sustainability and Hillel. Both groups look forward to the planting of an apple and fig tree in the campus garden this spring. “I think both of our organizations have a vested interest in making this campus, this town, and our world a healthier, happier place to live,” junior Chelsea Eversmann, Wake Forest Hillel Social Action Co-Chair, said.

By Joey DeRosa, Communications and Outreach Intern

University hosts Arbor Day Celebration

Thursday, June 2nd, 2011
Collaboration

Jim Coffey, Dedee DeLongpre Johnston and Donna McGalliard help plant a tree as part of the university's first Arbor Day Celebration.

As a part of the 13 Days of Celebrating the Earth,  Landscaping Services, the Office of Sustainability and Residence Life & Housing hosted the university’s first-ever Arbor Day Celebration at 4 p.m. April 15. Attendees gathered on this warm, bright afternoon in the newly renovated outdoor area outside of North Campus Apartments Building 1. Miles Silman, associate professor of biology and director of Wake Forest’s Center for Energy, Environment and Sustainability, opened the ceremony.

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