Students from the Iowa State University Department of Horticulture came together to restore a walkway and staircase on campus. The students, led by assistant professor of horticulture, Dr. Grant Thompson, had started the project the previous week, September 1, as part of their course: Landscape Construction Management.
The staircase had fallen into disrepair over the years due to a combination of foot traffic, snow removal and lawn maintenance. In the dilapidated condition of the staircase, some saw an opportunity to educate students on the logistics of actual landscaping projects.
Thompson was able to get the project approved and properly delivered tby Rhonda Martin with Ancillary Services and Barb Steiner with Facilities Services in the Facilities Planning and Management Department.
The course has been designed for horticultural students specializing in landscape design, installation and management. While the bulk of the curriculum for this specialization focuses on the design aspect, this course teaches students the physical aspects of landscaping.
“In this course, students learn the basics of small-scale residential and landscape construction, from how to do it to how to do different calculations for slope and stormwater,” said Thompson. “The students did the site protection and demolition work last week where we removed the existing brick pavers and stored what we could be reused. “
Since some pavers had damaged over time and could not be reused, facility planning and management helped provide replacement materials as well as other needed materials.
“This week the students are working on bringing the subcategory or subbase (fine gravel material) to the proper level and were going to compact it so that we have a good base,” said Thompson. “Next week we will add sand and start laying pavers.”
The process of actually completing a landscaping project provides insight into the planning process for such a project. Tasks such as creating a quotation and planning a project require understanding how the actual construction process works.
“It’s kind of a wrap-up class for some of our landscaping and design students,” Thompson said. “In that, they take all of the design and theory that they’ve been working on and put it into practice and by understanding how something is built, they can take all of those nuances of design into account.”
The Iowa State Landscape Design, Installation, and Management Program is one of seven four-year programs accredited by the National Association of Landscape Professionals, making it a safe option for students seeking a career. in landscape design.
Savannah Michalski, an Iowa state senior who specializes in horticulture, explained her decision to help manage the construction of the landscape.
“I’ve always loved horticulture, so I couldn’t decide which path to take, but ended up doing some landscape design and management,” Michalski said. “I like the design part more, but I feel like this course is quite important because it shows you behind the scenes of landscaping. It is important to know everything that goes into construction when you are designing these things.
Landscape construction and management offers students a chance to step out of the classroom and improve their perspectives in a real setting. A note happy to have contributed to the effort of maintaining the campus adds to the qualities of this course.
“It’s fun, it’s nice to go out and do things instead of sitting in a classroom all day, I really like that,” said Michalski.