November 04, 2009

Autumn Leaf Detail Leads to Rich Spring Soil

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What comes up blooming in spring has its start with those leaf blowers in full action now around campus.

The 20 employees on the grounds crew will be working 800 hours from now until the first snowfall to collect the leaves and branches and carting off some 900 cubic yards of leaves from the 74 acres of lawns around campus.

But where do all those leaves go and what happens to them?

"They get composted," says Daryl Costanzo, landscape supervisor from the ground maintenance department.

The leaves are turned into 300 cubic yards of rich soil that is returned to campus flowerbeds and used in planting new shrubs and trees on campus.

What those on the campus may not know is that Costanzo has been a leading advocate of composting and reusing fall leaves for nearly three decades.

While others are getting into green movement and reusing lawn clippings and leaves, Costanzo has been going around the country and helping people get started in composting.

Costanzo started 28 years ago when the wife of an alumnus anonymously donated a tub grinder for the leaves.

After depositing the leaf collections near the old Hough Bakery plant near Lakeview and Euclid Avenue, he lets Mother Nature do the rest of the work with rain and snow in transforming the leaves into nutrient rich soil over the winter months.

"In nine months, we can generate soil," Costanzo says.

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That soil has added plenty of humus to the land north of Euclid Avenue. Costanzo said many people may not know that the north campus is built on an old sand bed left over from the glaciers.

If interested in seeing what that glacial sand looks like, visit some of the outdoor volleyball courts on campus. They have sugar sand taken from the construction of the Kelvin Smith Library.

But for now, leaves will be blown into those sky-high piles and carted off to bring a little color to campus next spring.

For more information contact Susan Griffith, 216.368.1004.

Posted by: Kimyette Finley, November 4, 2009 09:51 AM | News Topics: Environment, Staff, features, news

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