Landscaping Crews to Start Restoration of U.Va.'s Lawn

June 22, 2012 — Landscaping crews will begin the restoration of the Lawn at the University of Virginia starting Monday.

The project is designed to rejuvenate the soil, grass and tree roots of the Lawn, the central open space in Thomas Jefferson's Academical Village.

On Monday, U,Va. landscaping crews and Bartlett Tree Experts will begin "air-spading" the roots of the trees, a technique that uses compressed air to relieve the compacted soil around the tree roots. The trees will be roped off to protect the roots after the procedure.

"The air-spading will help strengthen the trees, which are stressed by the severe soil compaction around them," Rich Hopkins, landscaping superintendent, said. "We will work in a circle around the trees, from 12 feet around for the bigger trees to three feet around for the smaller ones. And then we will mulch the trees to protect them."

Hopkins said the air-spading, which requires compressors, is relatively noisy and will produce some airborne dust. He said the process will make the trees healthier and better able to fend off predators such as the emerald ash borer.

Once the tree work is completed, the grass on the Lawn will be removed and replaced with sod. Hopkins said the Lawn grass is a combination of fescue, bluegrass and rye; because it is not treated with weed-killing herbicides and because the Lawn receives tremendous foot traffic, it is hard for seeded grass to take hold.

"The only way we get a good stand of grass is to put it down when it is already mature," he said. "And summer is not the best time to do that, but our goal is to have usable grass there by the time the fourth-year Lawn residents move in for the fall term."

The grass installation is planned for early July. Once an area has been sodded it will be roped off for about three weeks to allow the grass to establish itself. The work will run from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. during the summer and all landscaping work should be complete by the start of the fall term.

The work will not interfere with any public gatherings on the Lawn coinciding with Tuesday's meeting of the Board of Visitors, Hopkins said.

— by Matt Kelly