Groundskeepers maintain a variety of outdoor green spaces, including athletic fields and golf courses, parks and playgrounds, resorts and theme parks, college campuses and cemeteries, and office and residential complexes. Much of the work involves seeding, watering, fertilizing, trimming, and mowing lawns. Working throughout the year, groundskeepers rake leaves in the fall and clear away snow in the winter. They also clear away and dispose of litter.
To care for athletic fields, groundskeepers mark out boundaries and paint turf with team logos. Those who maintain artificial turf for athletic fields vacuum, wash, and disinfect it to prevent the spread of bacteria, and even replace it from time to time.
Groundskeepers may maintain plantings, including trees and shrubs, as well as water and fertilize them. Some even spray pesticides. In addition to caring for lawns and landscapes, groundskeepers often maintain sidewalks, parking lots, benches, and fences as well as fountains and pools. They also keep the exteriors of buildings freshly painted. Those groundskeepers, known as greenskeepers, who work for golf courses, keep outdoor tee markers, ball washers, benches, and canopies in good repair.
Groundskeepers who work at cemeteries also have special duties, such as digging graves (often using an excavating machine called a backhoe), positioning casket-lowering devices, erecting canopies over burial sites, and setting up folding chairs for graveside ceremonies.
Employed throughout the United States, most groundskeepers work full-time, particularly in regions with year-round warm weather. Others are hired part-time. Although some groundskeepers work alone and have full responsibility for a park or other outdoor area, most of them hire and supervise workers during the busy spring and summer growing seasons. Other groundskeepers supervise or work as part of a crew of workers.
Groundskeeping, like landscaping, can be physically demanding and is performed in all kinds of weather. Work often starts in the early morning, particularly at golf courses and other recreational facilities that will be used throughout the day. Hand tools such as shovels, rakes, and leaf blowers are used, along with heavy power tools like chain saws, brush cutters, and snowblowers. Power lawn mowers and small tractors are often used, too. Most groundskeepers are expected to maintain, and sometimes repair, their tools and vehicles.
When maintaining athletic fields, particularly golf-course greens, groundskeepers must have knowledge of various kinds of grass, or turf, how each type grows, and how each type reacts when played upon in various kinds of weather. Because turf has such a big effect on how golf balls roll, greenskeepers must be especially mindful of the turf. They'll even move the holes on a putting green, from time to time, to insure the turf wears evenly!
In addition to knowing how to maintain the lawns, or turf, and plantings, those who become head groundskeepers, or superintendents, must be able to communicate well with the workers they supervise.
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