Springing into action, Landscape Management preps Huntsville for beauty and play

single-meta-cal March 22, 2022

Spring’s fickle entrance this month signals a flurry of activity in the City’s expansive greenhouse near 9th Avenue. At the first hint of warmer temps, horticulturists begin exposing some 15,000 young perennials and annuals to the outdoors to prepare them for planting across the city. Soon the home-grown flowers will fill baskets along downtown streets and grace parks and public spaces.

Flowers are just one checkbox on Landscape Management’s spring to-do list as the department swings full force into a heightened schedule of mulching, planting and field prep to spruce up parks, greenways and athletic fields.

“Our employees put heart and soul in their jobs,” said Brian Walker, Director of Landscape Management. “They have a lot to cover a lot in a day, so if you see something is not up to par, let us know. We want everything to be right and to be beautiful and comfortable for the public to enjoy.”

A team of landscape workers spread mulch around a tree in a city park

Landscape workers distribute more than 25,500 cubic yards of mulch across city parks and public places.

Walker’s crews are busy throughout the year, but during peak activity from spring to fall they will double in size from 125 to 250. They’ll be working hard and fast to prepare public spaces for heavy play and to maintain them throughout the year. Here’s a brief look at their spring cleanup list:

Landscape Management Spring Checklist

  • Prime dozens of baseball and softball fields. Bring in clay; use motorized dragger to create diamonds, build pitcher mounds and paint lines. Repeat process (often daily) during playing season.
  • Prepare dozens of turf soccer fields to include fertilizing, weed control, mowing and painting.
  • Prep and maintain specialty facilities such as sand volleyball, disc golf, running trails, mountain biking trails and dog parks.
  • Care for 1,250 newly planted trees to ensure they survive and thrive through summer.
  • Prepare to plant 15,000 annuals and perennials in public flower beds (grown in the City’s greenhouse).
  • Plant, hang and maintain 312 flower baskets throughout downtown and other public parks.
  • Mow, trim, weed, pressure wash and prepare more than 61 parks and 75 playgrounds for heightened play.
  • Distribute more than 25,500 cubic yards of mulch.
  • Inspect and care for eight miles of unpaved trails in the City’s nature preserves at Hays, Wade Mountain, Dallas Fanning Park and Goldsmith-Schiffman sanctuary.
  • Inspect and care for 34.29 miles of paved greenways.

The spring checklist does not include Landscape Management’s year-round duties to mow and maintain 220 square miles of public road right-of-way and street sweep 5,880 miles of primary arterials. The department is also responsible for routine tree planting, tree trimming and ongoing litter collection.

Child and his mother help a landscape management worker plant trees in John Hunt Park

Volunteers help landscape workers plant hundreds of trees in John Hunt Park.

“Cleanliness is also about safety,” Walker said. “Keeping parks and roadsides clear of litter, manicuring the grass, smoothing and maintaining ball fields are important to alleviate safety and visibility concerns for the public. If you’re walking on a greenway, and a snake comes out of the tall grass, you want to be able to see it before it sees you. If you’re driving and there’s debris in the road, it can cause a serious accident.”

Last year, City crews collected more than 110,200 pounds of litter. Through Green Team and Huntsville’s Beautification Board, residents can participate in keeping Huntsville clean and green.

“The public can adopt a spot, stream or mile and make a big difference in our community,” said Walker. “We’re busy doing our best to keep our parks and roadways clean, but we can’t be everywhere all the time. Community volunteers are our biggest allies in this effort.”

If you would like more information on the City of Huntsville’s Adopt of Spot, Stream or Mile program, visit HuntsvilleAL.gov/GreenTeam.