Late autumn brings more chores than raking leaves at North Dakota State.
Removal of bike racks, winterizing the Babbling Brook and cutting flowers and grass are some of the many tasks the campus groundskeepers undertake this time of year. Making room for snow piles and clearing pathways are part of the work that goes into preparing for a North Dakota winter.
“Every year’s start time is a little different, whether it’s fertilizing the turf or cutting the perennials, we can start as early as September,” said Will Ferguson, a grounds employee.
Pete Zimmerman, associate director in business operations and facilities management, said winterization projects take around six weeks to accomplish. Some last the whole semester.
The campus bike racks are the first to go.
They will be removed on Friday to make space for snow removal and piling. Bike racks will be removed from the C Lot, near Gate City Bank Auditorium, outside the Bentson Bunker Fieldhouse and west of the Babbling Brook.
The Babbling Brook is a project all by itself.
Its irrigation systems and pumps need to be winterized and blown out to prepare for freezing temperatures.
Ferguson said most of the work being down now is based on current weather. Fifteen groundskeeping employees have a small calender window in which they work, from when trees begin dropping leaves to when freezing temperatures hit.
Disposing of leaves is one of the bigger jobs.
“There can be four to five people involved at one time to dispose of the leaves around campus,” said Steve Schwandt, a grounds employee.
Schwandt said one person blows leaves off the paved areas and sidewalks onto grassy areas while another person drives around on a mower chopping up leaves and grass.
This creates a path clear for sweeping equipment to pick up loose leaves.
While many campus trees are still green with leaves, the Babbling Brook was shut off for the season last week.
While winter doesn’t technically start until December, most, if not all, of the work will be done well before.
“We appreciate the cooperation of the staff, faculty and students as we go about preparing the campus for winter,” Zimmerman said.