Landscapes of the Month: Keeping A City's Community Hub Green and Clean - The Edge from the National Association of Landscape Professionals

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Landscapes of the Month: Keeping A City’s Community Hub Green and Clean

Photo: Ruppert Landscape

City Springs, in Sandy Springs, Georgia, was envisioned as a place for community activity and designed to be a gathering spot for business, government and residential communities. This 14-acre multi-use space functions as the city’s civic and community anchor.

Due to its integral nature to the city, Ruppert Landscape was selected to handle the landscape maintenance for the property. Ruppert’s Georgia landscape construction team had installed the landscape, hardscape, water features, irrigation, site amenities, etc. during the original project installation, which began in spring of 2016 and concluded in early 2018.

“When it came time to choose a landscape management contractor, our existing knowledge of the property — along with our proven track record of success — gave the client confidence in choosing us to care for this property,” says Stephen DeWeese, an associate branch manager at Ruppert’s Lilburn, Georgia landscape management branch.

Photo: Ruppert Landscape

City Springs is home to new offices, a performing arts center, restaurants, shopping, residential units and the city’s new green. The City Green is a four-acre park with an open lawn area, shade bosque, amphitheater, multiple plazas, and a network of fountains. Over a million people visit the property annually.

Ruppert’s work maintaining this space earned them a Gold Award in the 2020 Awards of Excellence.

“It’s always wonderful when we receive recognition with NALP’s Awards of Excellence program, knowing that when we submit one of our projects that we’re being measured against so many other great organizations and projects from all over the country,” DeWeese says. “It definitely motivates our team (let’s face it, we’re competitive!) and makes us proud of the work we do.”

A five-person crew cares for the site five days a week, along with a full-time gardener position. The gardener reports to the site five days a week to handle hand pruning, changing trash cans, picking up trash, and any other maintenance that might need to be done in addition to the main crew’s typical scope. Weekly service consists of maintenance of all walkways, turf, beds, trees, pots, building entrances, roadways, parking and common ground.

Photo: Ruppert Landscape

“With the City Green being a popular public park that’s open 24/7, one of the biggest challenges is the large crowds and a high volume of foot traffic,” DeWeese says. “The park hosts weekly farmers markets, movie nights, and concerts (often three events per week during summer).”

The crew performs work in high traffic areas as early as 6:30 a.m. and because noise restrictions limit the use of equipment before 7 a.m., the crew starts with detail work. The high pedestrian and vehicular traffic require site personnel to be extra vigilant.

Ruppert’s crew has to stay on top of pruning, shearing, cutbacks and deadheading during the summer months with the weekly events being held. Thousands of visitors produce an extraordinary amount of litter and the crew works to keep plant beds and trees clear of trash as they perform routine maintenance.

Ruppert is often asked to perform additional services before a major event and is tasked with cleanup after events on the next service day.

Photo: Ruppert Landscape

To maximize the urban space, the parking garage is located under 75 percent of the property. This along with hot temperatures makes it a challenge to keep plant material viable. Certain plants that were installed originally had to be replaced with heat-tolerant species such as purple pixie Loropetalum, blue fescue and Ogon grass.

The 63,250 square feet of Bermudagrass is kept hydrated with the site’s 86-zone irrigation system. The extensive irrigation system is comparable to what is required to maintain professional sports fields. The irrigation team performs monthly inspections and the maintenance crew monitors and replaces broken/damaged sprinkler heads as needed.

With the frequent foot traffic, the turf requires fertilization and fungicidal treatments. Multiple aerations help limit soil compaction.

The city pays tribute to the nearby Chattahoochee River with elements of water and shade incorporated.

Over 10,000 perennials and grasses, 6,500 shrubs, 2,600 annuals and 350 trees are on the site. “Bosque” planting areas throughout the site help reduce the heat island effect by shading the pavement. Vibrant colors and lush plant material throughout the site are used to create a space for residents to enjoy. The plant material is rotated three times per year to ensure a colorful display year-round.

The heat and proximity to the Chattahoochee River leaves plant material vulnerable to lace bug, mites and aphids. The crew spot checks problem areas to determine their watering needs and for bug infestations as the property has a number of different microclimate challenges.

Photo: Ruppert Landscape

Ruppert works to provide an integrated pest management program to control potentially damaging insects or pests. They aim to apply treatment as a curative, not preventative.

“The decision to treat certain issues depends on visibility, plant location and accessibility to visitors,” DeWeese says.

Interested in participating in the Awards of Excellence? Be sure to enter your project when entries open in February 2022. 

Jill Odom

Jill Odom is the senior content manager for NALP.