Grounds crew goes through timely process for on campus leaf removal

Eric Poston

HeFall can produce beautiful looking trees, but it also creates a lot of work for grounds crews workers who spend between 2,200 to 2,500 man hours to remove leaves from campus each year.

Early in the fall season, the blades on the mowers are changed to a mulching blade so the leaves can be mulched up until the ground becomes covered with them.

There are multiple machines used by grounds crews to blow leaves. Two separate crews cleanup leaves as one blows them and another crew collect them.

“We don’t let them sit for more than a day or two,” Kent State grounds manager Heather White said. “Often we try not to have them sit for a weekend.” 

Once the leaves are collected, they are taken to the maintenance building and added to a large compost pile. The compost is then used to amend soil around campus in the spring.

“Weather drives most of what we do with leaves,” White said. “If we get an early snow, that will freeze the leaves to the ground and we won’t be able to get them up until spring, which puts us behind schedule on spring.”

Removing leaves sometimes can begin early in the morning for parking lots and areas of campus that see high traffic.

“We use this as an early shift, not overtime,” White said.

An early shift means crews work 5 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. instead of the normal 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. shift.  On average 15 to 16 people work on cleaning up leaves Monday through Friday.

White said overtime is not usually needed as the crews are so effective with the early shift. 

The time it takes to clean up the leaves depends on weather and how fast the trees grow bare. White said the recent high winds and rain have made leaves drop faster.

One of the biggest challenges White said is the combination of the weather mixed with wet leaves on stairs.

“If we know it is going to rain, we will make an effort to blow off all the steps and clear the drains,” White said.

Eric Poston is the construction reporter for The Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].