FS grounds crew earns top honors for campus landscape

The Facilities Services landscaping team earned a Green Star Grand Award, the highest honor, at the 44th annual Professional Grounds Management Society (PGMS) gala in Louisville, Ky.

Each year, PGMS evaluates submission from grounds superintendents nationwide who manage the landscape of everything from colleges and universities to cemeteries to municipal, office and theme parks to apartment and hotel/motel complexes. The Grand Award, the top honor, celebrates teams responsible for maintaining a well-manicured landscape year round. 

“Grounds work tends to be heavily critiqued because it is so prominent on campus. An award like this allows us to take a step back and focus on the positive for a little bit,” said Brandon Rux, manager, landscaping and grounds.

Rux attended the October ceremony along with Kevin Austin, director, campus & residential properties, and Tiffany Grant, executive assistant. Rux leads a team of 21 employees who work out of the Facilities Services Building on Cottage Grove Avenue.

The grounds of the University’s 217-acre campus was judged on several key factors, including appearance, budget, photos, turf management, and sustainable practices.

Campus pictures were presented at the ceremony, highlighting PGMS’s favorites. Rockefeller Chapel was singled out for its elevated turf and garden bed area that slopes down to street grade. Highlights also included: Regenstein Library’s colorful display of beds and raised planters, Stagg Field and Botany Pond (a known haven for turtles, fish and ducks) and the Social Science Research Quad, shown with budding Bur Oaks.

PGMS’ Grand, Honor and Merit Awards are offered in 15 categories, covering all types of private, public commercial and industrial landscapes. To qualify for entry, a landscape must be at least two years old and under your continuous maintenance for at least two years.

Competitors this year included Sea Pines, a cemetery in South Carolina, the Venetian Las Vegas, where yellow roses match its yellow building, and a rain garden at Lawrence Technological University in Southfield, Mich.

This year, UChicago and three other competitors earned the Grand Award. Facilities Services also earned the honor in 2011.