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Cornell University

Grounds Department Mission and Scope Of Services


The Grounds Department provides quality services, consistent with responsible fiscal and environmental stewardship, to support the landscape maintenance and landscape construction needs of the Cornell Community.

Scope of Services:

Ground’s services include maintenance of central campus landscaped and paved areas, with the exception of Athletics facilities and the Statler Hotel.  The Athletics Department employs their own grounds staff.  The Statler Hotel hires Grounds for landscape services that exceed our base level standard of care.  

Ground’s core, base level of services includes the following:

  • 310 Acres of Lawns
    • Mowed areas receive periodic mowing as required to keep grass height below about 4”.
    • Areas damaged by winter snow removal operations are tilled and seeded prior to Commencement.
    • Weed controls (herbicides) are kept to an absolute minimum and are applied on a limited basis. Many lawns will have varying populations of broad leaf and grass weed species present.
    • Naturalized meadow areas receive an annual mowing.
    • Irrigation and application of fertilizer are done on a very limited basis.  We seek to identify and plant grass species that are well adapted to our varying soil types.
  • 80 Acres of Shrub and Tree Plantings
    • Shrubs and trees receive an annual pruning to control shape and remove dead and diseased branches.
    • Tree canopy maintenance.
    • Dead and diseased plantings are replaced with healthy specimens.
    • Insect controls are applied on a very limited basis as required to prevent permanent damage.
    • Mulching is provided seasonally as needed.
  • Flower Beds
    • Annual and Perennial beds are weeded and maintained seasonally.
  • 15 Miles of Roads, 61 Miles of Walkways, 114 Acres of Parking Lots
    • Roads, Lots, Steps and Sidewalks are kept clear of snow.  Salt/grit is applied to control ice. 
    • Periodic sweeping of Roads, Lots, Steps, Sidewalks and Patios organic and inorganic debris. 
  • Waste and Recycling Management  
    • Weekly litter removal from lawns and paved surfaces.
    • Weekly service of 170 exterior trash and recycle containers campus wide.
  • Litter
    • Building Care staff pick up litter/cigarette butts at building entrances.  Grounds staff are responsible for litter pick up in all other campus areas.   If you are scheduling an event that generates an unusual amount of litter/trash please contact Building Care/Grounds ahead of time to coordinate use of trash receptacles and cleanup. Please note they may ask that you cover added costs associated with these services.
  • Emergency Response
    • Tree removal, winter snow removal, storm damage.

Following are examples of services provided on a for-fee basis:

  • Lawns
    • Areas damaged by construction projects or special events such as student move in are tilled and seeded as requested.
  • Special Event Support
    • Commencement, Reunion, Slope Day, Home Coming, Move-in, Move-out.
    • Athletics
    • Staff & Student projects approvals and support.
  • Ivy
    • Trimmed seasonally as needed or as requested.
  • 40 miles of Storm and Sanitary Sewers
    • Storm water inlets are cleaned annually or as needed.
    • Storm and sanitary sewer lines exterior to buildings are repaired/replaced as needed.
  • New Landscape or Upgrades and Renovations
    • Beds with annuals/perennials are planted and weeded as requested.
    • Design and installations.
  • Roads, Parking Lots and Walkways
    • Repairs are executed as requested, or as vehicle and pedestrian safety necessitates.
  • Construction, Excavation and Site Restoration
    • We have a variety of loaders, backhoes, dump trucks and skid steers for use on Trade Shops and Utility Department projects.
    • Contractor support and site inspections.
    • Maintenance of storm water retention and sedimentation structures.
    • See the Construction area of our web page for examples of the work we do.
  • Emergency Response
    • Barricades, fencing, flagging, utility repairs.