Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Making Landscaping Greener: Oklahoma City University's Efforts Pay off in More Ways Than One

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Making Landscaping Greener: Oklahoma City University's Efforts Pay off in More Ways Than One

Article excerpt

When landscapers take a more environmentally friendly approach, it also can mean a significant cost savings for customers.

That has been the case at Oklahoma City University, where landscaping contractor Turf Appeal has beautified the campus in ways that cost the university less.

Perennial flowers replaced annual flowers, which were costing the university about $20,000 a year to have replanted, said Matt Doerr, president of Turf Appeal. The company eliminated cypress mulch, which had to be spread anew every year, and replaced it with decorative gravel that will last five to 10 years. Overgrown shrubs requiring frequent use of a hedge trimmer were removed, and the company is cutting back on its use of leaf blowers, he said. Drought- tolerant plants also were added.

"Overall, we've saved them about $50,000 a year," Doerr said.

For its efforts, Turf Appeal recently was honored during the environmental improvement awards ceremony of the Professional Landcare Network Green Industry Conference.

At OCU, the changes are having a positive effect on both regulars and visitors. Brian Holland, chief financial officer, said people frequently comment on the appearance, and students recently got involved during a campus-wide improvement day, working with Turf Appeal staff. The day was so successful that it was hard to find other projects for a repeat performance.

"Our dialogue with Turf Appeal had changed from 'mow the lawn, blow the leaves, take out dead trees' ... to creating a sense of place," Holland said. "The grounds and the feeling you get from being here also contributes to recruitment."

The university also worked with Turf Appeal to install a sprinkler system that uses water from three wells the university dug.

"Instead of using treated water we have to buy, we are taking water out of the ground and putting it right back in," Holland said. …

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