Celebrate April: learn about campus landscape

While April is host to Earth Day and national garden month, South Dakota State University’s Facilities and Services looks at the sustainability of our landscaping year round. In fact, 2017 is SDSU’s ninth year in a row to be recognized as a “Tree Campus USA.” This national organization recognizes universities that establish and maintain a healthy tree community. 

It’s not just trees that add to the campus landscaping ecosystem. Look across campus and you are bound to spot a native or pollinator plant. These plants are chosen for their longevity and positive benefit as wildlife habitats. Both maintain a functional ecosystem by offering food resources or habitats to insects, birds or mammals.

You’ll notice, too, that campus landscaping is covered with a thick layer of mulch, created from cut down campus trees. Not only does the mulch help reduce weeds and minimize water needs, but it also adds nutrients back to the soil as it slowly decomposes. 

Furthermore, campus landscaping includes four bioswales and bioretention areas. Some of these areas look like general landscaping on the outside, but underneath they provide a natural way to remove pollutants from rainwater prior to entering storm sewer systems. Other areas appear as sunken turf and allow rainwater to collect, slow down and infiltrate to a certain extent. The benefits of these storm water management practices include trapping coarse litter from entering waterways, slowing water velocity, reducing overall flow volumes and rates to storm sewer systems, creating unique ecosystems for plant and animal life, and removing particulate pollution from the storm sewer system.  

With multiple bioswales, more than six acres of garden beds and around 2,500 trees on campus, SDSU finds sustainable landscaping a benefit to our campus and the surrounding ecosystem priceless. We hope as spring comes around and flowers are in bloom, you can enjoy it, too.

You are welcome to come and join SDSU in celebrating their Tree Campus USA recognition at campus’ annual tree planting event at 10 a.m. on April 26 in the University Arbor Day Park. 

 Events to enjoy Earth Day:

  • Spruce-up SDSU Day Kickoff: 5 p.m. April 20, The Union
  • Earth Day event: 10 a.m. April 22, Larson Nature Center
  • Arbor Day Tree Planting: 10 a.m. April 26, University Arbor Day Park
  • “The Truth Behind the Bee Problem” presentation: 6 p.m. April 27, Wooden Legs
  • Spring Cleaning Donation Drive: April 1-29, Habitat for Humanity

Jennifer McLaughlin is the sustainability specialist and can be reached at [email protected]