Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
  • entries
    62
  • comments
    24
  • views
    152,350

About this blog

Joe Fearn is Head Groundskeeper at Drury University in Springfield, MO. We writes about reconciling economic, aesthetic, functional, and environmental needs in the landscape.

Entries in this blog

 

Water Conservation on Campus: A Tale of Irrigation and Slow, Spread, Soak

As of February 28, 64% of the State of Missouri is in the moderate drought category according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. This is up from 50% the week before, and as of this writing the remainder of the state was in the abnormally dry category.   By contrast, California, which had been in a several years-long drought, is now declining in all drought categories. 75% of the state is not rated at all and even the stubborn droughty areas of Southern California are getting moisture. In fact, many

Joseph Fearn

Joseph Fearn

 

Rest in Peace, Beaver

Here at Drury University we are very interested in supporting the ecology of our area. This effort is challenging in our urban setting. Regardless, it is an effort we see as critical. We install native plants and trees that appeal to pollinators, and act as food sources to the local insects, birds and animals. We evaluate the surrounding neighborhoods and see where we might build larger sections of habitat by creating green corridors. Over the five years I have been here I have seen the results

Joseph Fearn

Joseph Fearn

 

Joe Fearn’s Management Maxims

Being a successful operation is about making pieces work effectively together. One of those pieces are the relationships in a team. The relationships are created by the principles that guide our work. These relationships might be task related, timing related, hierarchically related, and are usually contextual. Context is fluid, and requires a framework that can give it meaning and logical structure. Because while some work may be accomplished in chaos, achieving specific objectives is challengin

Joseph Fearn

Joseph Fearn

 

Put a Bow on It...

Another year has come and (nearly) gone. Although we in the green industry are frequently regulated by seasons, the ending of the calendar year provides a significant point to take stock. It strikes me as unusual how I tend to be reflective and look back as December comes to a close. But then PING, it is January 1 and I begin totally looking forward again. On one level this is good because failures of the past year do not persist in bogging me down. On the other hand I may not be evaluating the

Joseph Fearn

Joseph Fearn

 

Going To See the Doctor...

Let me start right off saying I am not talking about that kind of doctor (a physician). The doctor I am talking about is Dr. Brad Fresenburg, Assistant Extension Professor with University of Missouri Turfgrass Science. While Dr. Fresenburg works in Columbia, MO., he travels extensively as a turf/sports turf expert, Master Gardener lecturer, and pesticide applicator certification instructor.   Brad is a true turf devotee and approaches his job with a real-world perspective. He knows the minutia

Joseph Fearn

Joseph Fearn

 

Establishing Objectives

One of the most common concepts that contributes to a team's success is to have clear objectives. Clear objectives provide direction and framework for how to proceed in your work. These objectives can be precise, such as increasing the tree canopy or completing your mowing route in "x" number of days. Or they can be broad so as to create context for where your grounds operation will move toward. Here at Drury we have come up with five objectives to guide our work as we strive to fulfill our orga

Joseph Fearn

Joseph Fearn

 

Don't Call It Sustainability (the "S" word)

I don't know if it is me, or if there really is a hesitancy by people to adopt sustainable landscaping practices. It could be me, because I preach sustainability, and honestly my message can be fire and brimstone at times. But I also wonder if there isn't a weird kind of sustainability reluctance (sustainability overload perhaps) that turns people away from any landscape called sustainable'. In my 25 years of landscaping, sustainable has meant saving time, money and staff, resources I never had

Joseph Fearn

Joseph Fearn

 

What’s Griping Me?

That's it. For this blog I am not going to take the high road. I am not going to say to myself "put yourself in their shoes". I am not going to look to understand the other perspective. I am not going to be a good soldier. This is going to be a vitriolic, hate-spewing, anger-filled, lament of many of the idiotic things I have to put up with as the head groundskeeper at a university. I am looking to vent, and vent big. So, to my fellow groundskeepers, sit back and see if you don't say "been there

Joseph Fearn

Joseph Fearn

 

i-Tree Canopy and Drury University Cover Assessment

Drury University covers right at 100 acres in midtown Springfield, Missouri. If I had to summarize what Drury looks like, I would say it is a traditional landscape with primarily traditional architecture. When our community is asked to describe the campus landscape, most people remark on our many trees, and the park-like setting we reside in. Without a doubt, Drury University presents an image of a vibrant landscape that is in harmony with the built environment it resides in. In an effort to tru

Joseph Fearn

Joseph Fearn

 

Create market differentiation with the landscape...

Driving through midtown Springfield recently I was struck by how devoid of unique landscaping much of my city is. I was also struck by landscaping that was uniformly boring and in many cases, virtually nonexistent. Yet there was remarkable variety to the architecture of the buildings, and the marquis street signs/billboards were also very unique. These observations made me wonder about how any organization uses the landscape to first support its business, and then how it might help differentiate

Joseph Fearn

Joseph Fearn

 

Dog Run Sustainability

Everyone is reasonably familiar with the concept of a dog run. Dog runs can be a fenced area, usually rectangular, or a leash of sorts on a length of cable. Both configurations are meant to give the dog the maximum freedom of movement without giving the dog so much leeway that he can escape the yard, or be a nuisance to neighbors. The dog has some space, but is still held securely in a specific area.   I often think that green industry sustainability is like a dog run. Freedom to move within a

Joseph Fearn

Joseph Fearn

 

It Pays To Belong...

Many, if not most of us Green Industry professionals belong to professional associations or groups, and maintain professional certifications in those groups. In my case I am a Certified Arborist, Municipal Specialist with International Society of Arborists (ISA), and a Certified Grounds Manager with Professional Grounds Managers Society (PGMS). I also participate in the Missouri Community Forestry Council (MCFC). We are also usually required to maintain licenses that give us credentials. Here in

Joseph Fearn

Joseph Fearn

 

Sustainability Baby Steps...

Sustainability continues to be a hot topic in the Green Industry and here at Drury University. Every aspect of how we manage and maintain our landscapes is affected. I read about amazing things happening all the time and wonder what I can do? How can I share in all these amazing steps taking place on college campuses, golf courses, parks, businesses, etc.? I sometimes feel I am getting left behind. But sustainability is not only about liquid propane mowers, compost tea, and native plants. As I s

Joseph Fearn

Joseph Fearn

 

Realities, Or Just More Dreams... Part Two

One of the comments I hear from my grounds crew is that I jump around on projects too frequently. While I see some truth to this observation, there is a reasonable and desired effect from this job-jumping. Having lots of tasks -- especially broad efforts -- lined up, allows for at least one to always be practical. If factors outside my control (weather, budget, and organizational objectives) or factors within my control (scheduling, training, crew morale, etc.) put a damper on one, I have anothe

Joseph Fearn

Joseph Fearn

 

Realities -- or just more dreams -- for 2016 (Part One)

When I was a new Grounds Supervisor working at Alexandria Hospital in Virginia, I would take a monthly walk through campus and generate quite a lengthy punch list of ALL the work I needed to do. Truth be told, most of that work never got done. It rolled over, or simply fell out of my sphere of concern. I dont need to tell any of you how many concerns/problems we Grounds Managers see whether we are looking or not.   I don't need a list for what needs to be done NOW, or when someone important th

Joseph Fearn

Joseph Fearn

 

The Grounds as a Social Force

Most people are already well aware of several areas that landscaping is used for the common good. Most landscapes are interested in planting trees, shrubs and flowers in order to support their surrounding ecosystems. Landscaped areas, certainly including golf courses and sports fields, are well known for their ability to decrease pollution and other environmental benefits. The mental well-being of visitors and patrons can be much improved by exposure to the natural environment we all work in and

Joseph Fearn

Joseph Fearn

 

My Dream Job...

This title might lead you to think I'll be writing about how I am filling a position that is all I ever expected out of a career. I am, but this blog is not referring to exactly that type of dream job. This post has to do with an actual dream I had recently.   In this dream I was touring a golf course as part of professional development for Drury University. During this dream trip, I heard about many interesting efforts and approaches to some grounds tasks. Once awake, I considered what struck

Joseph Fearn

Joseph Fearn

 

Magnificent Monarchs

Last year, my 7 year old son found a Monarch caterpillar and brought it home. We put it in a jar with some leaves and sticks, then looked up how to care for it. We found out that Monarchs only eat plants in the Milkweed genus (Asclepias). I have been a longtime fan of Common Milkweed since I first smelled its blossom in Virginia. I found some on a roadside, and also would harvest it from a patch on campus. Over the next week or so, that caterpillar ate and ate and grew and grew. Knowing little a

Joseph Fearn

Joseph Fearn

 

Sustainability, Budget, and the Landscape Design Concept

Writing a recent blog about the future of grounds and landscaping got me thinking about how potential future changes could alter what my grounds management looks like. It then lead me to wonder about sustainability (what in the world does that mean?), and how that could change my grounds management too. The possible changes stem from the pursuit of sustainability that is being advocated by both those in our industry and those outside of it. But which pursuit the right one?   Sustainability...

Joseph Fearn

Joseph Fearn

 

Rethinking Restoration

Here at Drury University we have several tracts of land that we want to restore. When I say restore some may say restore to what? Many people conjure up images of native meadows or woodlands. Our campus project has the meadow option in mind. In our work, restore also generally means to return an area to some previous state of vegetation, and to repopulate with some various native plant material. Restoration can be carried out for several reasons and is widely recognized as a viable option in gro

Joseph Fearn

Joseph Fearn

 

What I have learned from TurfNet...

Please do not think this blog is shameless pandering to a site I am a member of. I joined TurfNet first as a user also contribute now as a blogger. I found TurfNet while looking for resources on general turf maintenance and sports turf. While TurfNet is focused on the golf industry, there is much information applicable to these other fields.   One of my main interests is in an organic-based approach to turf management that focuses on natural processes over chemical intervention. Fortunately I

Joseph Fearn

Joseph Fearn

 

These Geese Were Cooked… Literally

About midway through my green career, I spent a year working on a golf course here in Springfield, Mo. While this length of time doesn't warrant me any position of golf management authority, it did give me some appreciation for my brethren in golf, and some empathy for what golf course workers of any capacity might face. I know that there is almost nothing that compares to the intricacy of managing a green. I loved mowing greens, even double cutting in the dark before an early tee time. I did no

Joseph Fearn

Joseph Fearn

 

Thinking on Quality...

To start, I want you to please imagine a car. Imagine a Toyota Camry, XLE package. For those of you that have a little bit more imagination, maybe even a Toyota Avalon XLE. This car has leather interior, power everything, a full touring package and even a Bose stereo. I think we all would agree this is a nice car. This isn't some trumped-up entry level car with plastic goodies on top trying to convince you it is nice. This is a NICE car. But it isn't a Mercedes. The Mercedes (go ahead and imagin

Joseph Fearn

Joseph Fearn

 

Pursue Sustainability Where You Find It

Several weeks ago Drury Grounds was asked to collaborate on the installation of several raised beds to be planted with vegetables and herbs. The produce from these beds would be used in the dining halls and by individual students. Local produce (also native plants) grown as organically as possible (applies for turf also) is a great nod toward a sustainable system. My problem was that the project itself did not maximize sustainability in both its concept and its construction. This made me realize

Joseph Fearn

Joseph Fearn

 

Remember When You Enjoyed Your Job? (!)

Here at Drury University in Springfield, Missouri, we are in the middle of a spring droughty period. While 13 days without rain is not too hard to manage, I am beginning to feel the initial twinges of water concern. Knowing that we will be experiencing a normal hot/dry spell in summer, I count on spring rains. I am sure everyone understands what I mean.   While we have started our irrigation on our high value turf (the native plants are just fine), much of our mowing and blowing is still dusty

Joseph Fearn

Joseph Fearn

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...