Despite lack of moisture, campus expected to pop this spring

Much of the state has drought concerns following a fall and winter that saw moderate precipitation, but the Iowa State campus figures to be in its postcard-perfect form when spring fully blooms.

"It is dry, but I would say that we are not even in a moderate drought right now," campus services senior manager Barb Steiner said. "We are at that point where any rain helps."

Steiner said February helped ease dry conditions, with about 2.5 inches of moisture falling on campus. The past couple of weeks added rain on numerous days, providing signs of a vibrant campus.

The lack of snow -- just one major storm hit campus, dropping nearly 13 inches  -- led to facilities planning and management (FPM) crews spending less time on snow removal than in recent years. Extreme cold without snow cover can cause issues for perennials and other flowers, but Steiner said she is already seeing some bulbs popping.

"I don't think it will be an issue this year because it wasn't cold enough long enough," she said.

Less snow meant more time to get other projects completed, including the removal of dead ash trees and other pruning across campus. Employees also got a head start on equipment maintenance, meaning the lawn mowers will be ready to roll in April.

FPM's 51 campus services employees conduct a spring cleaning that includes leaf and stick removal, cleaning of flower beds and sweeping of sidewalks.

"We want to get the sand we put down in the street picked up by the street sweeper to keep it out of the streams," Steiner said.

Upcoming projects

With the expansion of parking lots B1 and F at the Iowa State Center, FPM will transplant trees from the area this week. They are being moved north and west of the current location, just outside the work zone. The lots north of Scheman Building and west of Fisher Theater are being expanded into an L-shaped lot that adds 380 parking stalls to the corner. 

The biggest landscaping project over the summer will surround the pedestrian bridge over University Boulevard east of Jack Trice Stadium. The gateway project features an elevated walkway to the stadium's east concourse to create a safe pedestrian route between the stadium and parking.

"It is a significant planting project that has over 250 trees going in at that site," Steiner said. "There also are plans to put perennial shrub beds and flowering trees underneath the bridge on both sides."

The project is scheduled to be completed in time for the season-opening football game against Southeast Missouri on Sept. 3.