The Collegian
Thursday, February 29, 2024

UR's Landscape Services team shares insider perspective on campus groundskeeping

<p>Beds of flowers planted in the Westhampton Green.</p>

Beds of flowers planted in the Westhampton Green.

The University of Richmond’s Landscape Services handles a lot more than just planting flowers, said Allison Moyer, associate director of Landscape Services.

“Anything that has to do with outside, I’m in charge of,” Moyer said. "This includes road repair, athletic fields, snow removal, planting flowers and all general upkeep of the school's campus."

Moyer and Mike Torquato, manager of Landscape Services, work closely together to determine what should be changed on campus and how to go about doing it. When making changes to the campus, such as selecting flower beds or beginning new initiatives, they consider the UR Campus Master Plan, the direction the university is heading and any initiatives their bosses have, Moyer said. 

Recently, there have been many sustainability initiatives such as efforts to improve the water quality of Westhampton Lake and the Rethink Waste campaign, Moyer said.

Landscape Services is a branch of University Facilities. Other branches include Architectural Services and Custodial and Environmental Services, according to the University Facilities website.

“The Facilities Department is responsible for the creation, maintenance and operation of the physical environment of campus and our mission is to create and maintain an outstanding learning environment through constant attention to our community’s needs and thoughtful care of our beautiful campus,” Andrew McBride, associate vice president of University Facilities, wrote in an email.

Sophomores Addie Masterson and Aalia Narvel said they were happy with the landscaping team's work and pleased with the amount of care taken to keep the campus clean and beautiful.

“I like the flowers that they choose to plant,” Masterson said. “They’re really colorful and nice, like the little tulips outside of Jepson and Ryland.” 

Masterson’s only complaint was that she did not like when flowers were planted and it rained immediately after. 

“But that’s not something they can control,” Masterson said with a laugh. 

The flowers that are planted across campus are annual flowers, which are flowers that live for only a year, Moyer said, and are custom-grown for the school. The landscape team begins discussing and making decisions on what should be planted six months before actually putting new plants in the ground. This year, the flowers that will be planted for graduation were decided upon around Thanksgiving.

Narvel said the strong work ethic of the landscaping team was clear because students had frequently seen groundskeepers hard at work maintaining the campus grounds.

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In addition to Moyer, Torquato and a few supervisors, the groundskeepers also have a say in the decisions made about the campus landscape, Moyer said. 

Torquato began his career at UR 15 years ago as a groundskeeper and worked his way up to the manager position, he said.

Torquato said the way he had moved up the chain had helped him to fully understand all the positions that fell under his umbrella as manager.

UR’s landscaping team often promotes from within, Moyer said.

Moyer spent 11 years working at Collegiate School in Richmond, taking care of its landscape, she said. She had studied turf management and horticulture at Virginia Tech before then, and she joined the UR Landscape Service team as associate director in November 2017.

"We have a really awesome staff," Moyer said. "They make coming to work fun and they make the campus look beautiful. Our department gives the first impression of what the university is, so we always try to find people with pride in what they do."

Contact features writer Cate Bonner at

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