Man Spraying Herbicides, University of Delaware

In Albums: Newark, DE gardening colleges

A man spraying herbicides into a flower bed, on a college campus

Mar 13th, 2006, by Alex Zorach

This photo shows a man spraying herbicides on a flower bed on the campus of the University of Delaware. U. Delaware has, for the most part, a very attractive-looking campus. However, there is an ugly side to the visual aesthetic of the campus: the university makes very heavy use of synthetic chemicals in order to maintain their lawns and flower beds. Here, a man is applying herbicides to the beds. I can tell that herbicide was being applied because the man was targeting plant growth in exposed patches of mulch.

The use of herbicides by the University of Delaware is both unnecessary, and harmful to the environment, and I am hoping that they will soon phase this practice out. I also think that it promotes a landscaping aesthetic that I don't like, one in which there is a lot of open space and bare mulch, rather than a natural landscape, in which lush plant growth would be allowed to grow up and fill out the beds. In Newark, DE, with a moderate (cold end of subtropical) climate and fertile soils (the southern end of the piedmont region), plants grow vigorously during the growing season, and naturally will fill out flower beds. It takes a great deal of effort and input, either chemical or mechanical, to maintain beds in an unnaturally sparse state. Allowing the beds to fill out will minimize maintenance, as the plants allowed to grow will choke out undesirable weeds, and will be better for the surrounding ecosystem and for people, as lush plant growth both supports biodiversity and filters the air, improving the air quality for people walking around the campus.

As an alumnus of the University of Delaware, I urge the university to adopt a more sustainable landscaping plan which (a) avoids the use of synthetic herbicides, and (b) allows the beds on campus to fill out with a lush ecosystem of native plants. If you are an alum and feel similarly, please pass on this page to others, and make your voice known to those in the university as well.

I want to emphasize that the University of Delaware is doing a lot of great things to promote or advance the goal of sustainability. This photo just highlights one thing that I think they can do better. For something they're already doing very well, check out my photo of red-winged blackbirds in wetlands created in one of the drainage ponds for some of the university's dorms.