Groundskeepers ready for spring, put away shovels

Josh Echt

As winter ends, Kent State groundskeepers have begun putting their snow shovels away and preparing for spring.

Peter Harjung, groundskeeper at Kent State for three years, said they battle the elements as they transition from winter to spring grounds maintenance.

“It’s challenging,” said Harjung, who has worked for 15 years as a horticultural technician. “Sometimes I am shoveling a sidewalk by the science halls and tell myself, ‘Didn’t we just do that?'”

Heather White, Kent State grounds manager, said the grounds department has 18 groundskeepers and nine equipment operators.

Each groundskeeper, she said, is in charge of a specific “zone” on campus. Harjung said they need at least six months of experience to work at Kent State.

White said the main spring duties of the groundskeepers include:

• Digging and edging flower beds

• Removing winter grasses

• Potting spring flowers

• Transplanting flowers

• Removing winter cleaning equipment

The department has started edging flower beds while removing winter cleaning tools, White said.

“We still need to remove the snow fence and take down the ice barrels,” White said.

She said the equipment operators also are in the process of removing 60 boxes and barrels of rock salt.

White said spring cleanup and renovation begins the previous fall, when some trees are ordered that will be planted in the spring. However, she said the groundskeepers get a clearer idea of tasks they need to do as the spring progresses.

“Once we’re deeper in spring, we will know what needs to come up,” White said. “It’s up to the individual groundskeeper to make sure what needs to be done – and we adjust accordingly.”

Contact general assignment reporter Josh Echt at [email protected].