University of Waterloo
Turf Grass Maintenance Action Plan
Prepared by: Department of Plant Operations
Dated: January 1994
The University of Waterloo has been engaged in an effort to reduce the
amount of chemical pesticide used in landscape maintenance operations.
Progress has been made, but much-more remains to be done, and achieving it
will be neither simple nor inexpensive.
Over the course of this five-year Action Plan an attempt to eliminate pesticide
spraying on turf grass at the University of Waterloo by 2000 is the objective.
This will be done by implementing a modified turf maintenance program through the
monitoring and evaluation of results.
This Action Plan reflects the recommendations for landscapes as outlined in
the University of Waterloo's Master Plan and incorporates the Laurel Creek
Watershed Study as is feasible and compatible with the University as a whole.
Pesticide activity using non-chemical and/or chemical means is undertaken as
a part of our pest management program. In brief this is only one part of our total
concept of the landscape maintenance program. It is with great concern that we
recognize the interaction between the plant care programs and the environmental
factors that come into play at any given site or at any given time of the year. A
tremendous effort by our staff is required to co-ordinate maintenance programs
that are not only beneficial to the plant materials involved, but also aid in minimizing
maintenance requirements to eliminate duplication of effort and to remain cost efficient.
When pest control is necessary, the following guidelines are followed:
- The problem is identified and confirmed.
- The problem must exceed acceptable levels of damage.
- Alternative methods are evaluated.
- The best method with the least impact is implemented.
- Timing control for maximum results and safety.
- Monitoring results for follow up; record keeping.
- Modify the program as necessary.
We believe we have a minimum - impact system into which has been incorporated
proven methods enabling us to be environmentally responsible while producing
cost-efficient grounds maintenance techniques.
We are always working to find improved non-chemical control techniques. These
include desirable vegetation (native plants, ground covers), mulches, manipulation of
environmental factors such as irrigation, soil fertility, pest habitat, manual and mechanical
cultivation. We exchange new ideas and share information with other agencies
trying IPM (Integrated Plant Management) methods.
Our programs include mandatory certification of employees involved in pest control
activities; mandatory annual refresher training seminars; and record keeping.
Where alternative control options are not effective or do not provide adequate
results, chemical methods are still employed. The scope of any such application is
limited to the area and pest involved.
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Existing Turf Grass Maintenance Practices
Following are existing turf grass maintenance practices with pesticide reduction initiatives
that have been implemented and documented to date.
- No pesticide spraying over the past several years in residence and daycare areas.
(Married Students Apts., Hildegard Marsden, Clemmer and Psychology daycare centres).
- Chemical pesticides on turf maintenance areas are only undertaken when campus
populations are at a minimum at the following times: April 15 to May 1, and August 15 to September 1.
- Weed infested areas, as and when required have been chemically treated if it
has been established that alternative methods of control were not successful.
- Mechanical means of weed control have been used whenever possible.
- Irrigation is necessary to maintain healthy turf; however, with current watering
restrictions up to and including total ban situations; turf areas become stressed
allowing increased weed growth.
- Concrete mowing strips have been installed around most buildings to assist in the
elimination of chemical weed control.
- Native plant materials have been allowed to increase into the buffer areas
adjacent to Laurel Creek within public safety guidelines.
- More low traffic areas have been permitted to regenerate throughout both the
North and South campus. In order to do this, public safety has been given every consideration.
- Turf test plots (22) have been implemented on the North campus to test different
blends of turf grasses in an attempt to find more durable resistant varieties that are less
reliant on pesticide applications.
- Organic enrichment of the soils used for top dressing has been part of our program
in past years. This is done by mixing leaf compost and manure with topsoil for top dressing.
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Proposal for Modification of Turf Grass Maintenance
In order to achieve a zero percentage of pesticide use across campus by 2000 the following
strategy will be implemented to modify existing turf grass maintenance practices.
This plan includes the recommendation as set out in the WATgreen Study on Alternative
Turf Grass Maintenance Strategies.
The five (5) year period of the Action Plan should be implemented slowly, on a small scale
and worked alongside existing practices.
- Proposed reductions of chemical pesticide use are as follows:
|1993||50 - acres treated|
|1994||40 - acres treated|
|1995||30 - acres treated|
|1996||20 - acres treated|
|1997||10 - acres treated|
|1998||5 - acres treated|
|1999||1 - acre treated|
(The reduction schedule is in conjunction with the mower conversion program)
- Change reel type mowers to rotary mowers to allow for greater height of grass to
assist in reducing weed growth, (replacement of one mower per year for the next six years).
- No pesticide spraying for turf grass maintenance in Villages 1 and 2, Tutor House
residences and Columbia Lake Townhouses are proposed for 1994 and future years.
- Improve cultural methods, aeration, top dressing, overseeding, irrigation, fertilizing
and mowing methods. Tools for these operations are readily available in the market place
but a cost factor per unit is involved.
- Native plant materials are to be increased in the buffer zones wherever possible.
- Replacement of turf on various steep banks with ground cover is to be investigated.
- Mulching is to be increased in order to cut down on weed infestations of certain areas.
- Continue with the installation of concrete mowing strips around the remainder
of buildings to assist in the elimination of chemical weed control. Also increase concrete
underlay in such areas as fences. Asphalt and interlock (hard surfacing) will be increased
to enlarge existing pathways and even construct new areas for pedestrian traffic.
- Fertilization application programs will have to be increased to up to three times per year
as our pesticide applications progress toward zero percent. This fertilizer should be of a
slow release type.
- Large scale implementation on the campus grounds will be based upon results,
re-evaluation and modifications made over the time periods as outlined in each section of
the action plan and should collectively reach the target or come close to 0% by 2000.
- Monitoring, evaluating and the record keeping of modifications to turf grass maintenance
practices are essential.
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Commission a Landscape Master Plan. Encourage this to be done by a landscape design
consultant to follow the criteria of a Master Plan implementation. Funds permitting,
this could require a timetable of 1995.
This should also incorporate the recommendations of the University of Waterloo Master Plan.
- Prepare a Landscape Master Plan to establish the type of landscape desired by the
University and the expectation of the University community.
- Establish the level of maintenance required in each area.
- Establish a systemic integration of man-made and natural settings.
- The Landscape Plan should reflect general landscapes that can be treated as resources
for learning, research and recreation.
- Design should allow for natural low maintenance settings to be established.
- Existing landscape should be changed to encourage ecological approaches, with self-sustaining
natural and formal landscapes.
- Establish a comprehensive planing program that promotes the use of native plant material.
- Create a variety of open spaces to form small suntraps to large commons, linked
together as part of a comprehensive system of well-lit, weather-protected walkways.
Encourage the University of WATgreen Program to continue to have students contribute
to the study of various programs related to turf for the reduction and elimination of pesticide use.
- Develop a Land Use Study and Vegetation Inventory as a Research Project using GIS
(Geographic Information Systems) Technology.
- Study the use of herbivore turf maintenance.
- Study alternative ground covers.
Adapt the Action Program as set out in this report. This would reduce and/or eliminate pesticide
spraying of turf grass areas by the target date of 2000.
- This coincides with the WATgreen Study on Alternative Turf Grass Maintenance Strategies.
Recommend that the WATgreen Task Force on Turf Maintenance continue over the next five years.
The purpose of the Task Force should continue as:
- A forum for multi-stakeholders input and should cover more of the affected stakeholders
as representatives from Health and Safety, Athletics, Residences, Church Colleges
and Faculty, as well as those existing at present.
- The Task Force should assist in the formation of a Landscape Master Plan.
- Evaluate the results of the Plant Operations Action Plan.
- Assist in the acquiring of resources needed to ensure the Action Plan is on target.
- Communicate the Action Plan to the University community and the broader community.
- Continue to review the current practices of turf grass maintenance at the University.
- Determine the existing and the viability of new and improved maintenance practices.
- Encourage WATgreen students' involvement wherever possible.
- Assist Plant Operations with the monitoring and re-evaluation of pesticide reduction initiatives.
Recommend that the WATgreen Task Force on Turf Maintenance develop a Public
Relations Program to keep the University and the Community aware of progress and
initiatives taken by the Committee.
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Last updated: November 3, 1997