The grounds department maintains the campus throughout the year, providing care for landscape and hardscape in the summer and snow and ice removal during the winter.

The Illini Union on a fall afternoon.

Campus Landscape Master Plan (CLMP)

The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign landscape contributes powerfully to the character of the campus and its excellence as a land grant institution with global impact. Through thoughtful planning and design guidance, the first-ever Campus Landscape Master Plan (CLMP) ensures our treasured landscape will thrive for many years.

The CLMP will shape the vision of a future outdoor environment that will protect natural heritage, strengthen ecosystems, enhance shared experiences and learning opportunities, and provide a welcoming experience for students, faculty, staff, alums, community members, and guests.


  • Lawn mowing and repairs
  • String trimming and selective weed control
  • Leaf removal
  • Litter removal
  • Trim shrubs and shear hedges
  • Maintain flower beds, containers, and urns
  • Prune, remove, chip, and replace trees
  • Apply wood chip mulch to plant beds
  • Remove snow and ice from sidewalks
  • Plan attractive spaces that are easy to maintain and cost effective

Grounds crews also clear leaves from drains and window wells, empty and maintain outdoor trash containers, remove deceased animals and birds from building exteriors, and maintain the bike paths and landscape irrigation systems.

Landscape Management Team

The landscape management team presents a beautiful, safe and accessible exterior environment to the campus community throughout the year. As part of the landscape management team’s duties, we provide efficient, cost-effective stewardship of natural and built campus assets.

Our services include:
+ Sustainable Landscape Design, Construction and Maintenance
+ Project Staging and Restoration
+ Outdoor Waste and Recycling Collection
+ Site Furnishings
+ Support for Donor Trees and Endowed Landscapes
+ Support for the university’s continued certification of Tree Campus USA and Bee Campus USA

Grounds & Landscape Services

The Grounds department is responsible for providing detailed care for 939 acres of the campus’s landscape throughout the year. Additionally, they care for the more than 16,000 trees on campus. During the winter they manage snow and ice on over 90 miles of sidewalks and 10 miles of bike paths. The department currently has 48 positions which include a superintendent, a foreperson, four sub-forepersons, two tree surgeons, two grounds equipment mechanics and 38 grounds workers including two dedicated to full-time trash removal. The campus is divided into four grounds maintenance zones, with one sub-foreperson in each zone.

Campus Landscape Architecture

The University Landscape Architect oversees site development on the main campus and auxiliaries, including the Allerton Park & Retreat Center. All changes to the fabric of campus support the mission of our institution, balancing the needs of aesthetics for staff and students, attracting prospective students and donors, education uses, and sustainability.

Drought Policy

The Grounds department uses the drought intensity scale from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Illinois drought monitor map to determine when local conditions meet specific criteria.

During these periods, turf management, water irrigation, and flower, tree, and plant care on the Urbana campus will occur based on the steps outlined in the Grounds Drought Policy.

Integrated Pest Management

The F&S Grounds department has implemented a thorough Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program to reduce the use of pesticides on the exterior of the main campus. The fundamental aspects of IPM and key examples from the program are listed below.

  • Acceptable pest levels: F&S does not spray insecticides or fungicides on campus trees. Treatments are made to landscape plants (shrubs, perennials, annuals, grass, etc.) only if a pest is causing significant harm to the plant.
  • Preventive cultural practices: Grounds is working to replace the outdated Kentucky Bluegrass/Ryegrass mix in favor of a more durable Turf Type Tall Fescue mix in all lawn panels. This shift will allow for more sustainable irrigation practices and lawns that are more resistant to high levels of foot traffic.
  • Mowing: Grounds does not mow grass below 3.5 inches in height. Grass can better compete with weeds and tolerate drought stress at higher mowing heights. In addition, staff avoid removing more than one-third of the leaf surface at any one mowing and accomplish this by using higher mowing heights and regular mowing cycles.
  • Monitoring: Grounds is consistently inspecting the different areas of campus; all of the staff are trained and knowledgeable on what to look for and how to identify the presence of pests.
  • Mechanical controls: F&S utilizes large amounts of green waste wood chips in the planter bed areas of campus to suppress weeds. Application of the wood chips helps to reduce the amount of germination from weed seeds in the soil while also moderating moisture levels.
  • Biological controls: Planting designs incorporate specific types of flowering plants that attract predator insects to naturally encourage an acceptable predator/pest balance.
  • Pesticide restrictions: The university is committed to encouraging and protecting stormwater and pollinators, and therefore Grounds limits the use of herbicides that contain neonicotinoids.

All employees who apply pesticides undergo rigorous training and education to become State Licensed Public Pesticide Operators or Applicators. This high level of training and monthly meetings ensure that F&S grounds workers understand and follow the IPM strategy.

Service Levels

Grounds Service Levels designations (see Related Documents) are evaluated regularly to reflect changes in the campus and reductions or increases in the landscape maintenance budget.

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