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December Landscapes – Football steep in landscape influence


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The hedges at the University of Georgia.

Landscape and football enjoy long history together

Being that we’re in the middle of football season, I thought I’d bring in some connections between football and landscaping. Yes, there are some significant connections there.

Ever heard the phrase “between the hedges” in college football? You’re likely talking about the University of Georgia’s Sanford Stadium in Athens. One of the country’s most scenic stadiums, Sanford’s field is surrounded by Privet shrubs which began back in 1929. It is also one of the few stadiums left which feature natural turf, in this case having Tifton 419 Bermuda turf.

The privets planted around the field were originally the idea of Charlie Martin, the business manager of the UGA athletic department. His inspiration came from California’s Rose Bowl stadium where a row of Roses are planted there. Roses aren’t as suitable a choice in Georgia so Privets were used instead.


Today, they cover a little more than 5,000 square feet and completely encircle the field.

During the 1996 Summer Olympics, the stadium was chosen to host the soccer matches. But to do so, the hedges had to be removed to accommodate the wider field requirements for soccer. Cutlings from the Privets were taken before they were removed and were transported to a local nursery. When the soccer events were completed, the new Privets, taken from the previous hedges, were planted.

The hedges have a dual use for the stadium. For one, they are beautiful and add a classic touch to a classic stadium. And two, they assist in crowd control, discouraging folks from entering the field of play from the stands. The Privets are planted next to a chain link fence.

In the last couple of decades, several other stadiums have been built with hedges, including six others in Georgia’s own Southeastern Conference. But Georgia’s is the only one where the hedges completely encircle the field.



The Death of Toomer’s Oaks

On the campus of Auburn University sits “Toomer’s Corner” and within that sits “Toomer’s Oaks.” Back in 2011, there were 10 of Toomer’s Oaks, which were Live Oaks. They were more than 80 years old at that time and were affectionately known in that area for the celebrations that followed any Auburn victory in sports, particularly football whereby fans would drape them with toilet paper.

It was in that year, 2011, that Auburn defeated rival University of Alabama 24-0. An angered Alabama fan, later identified as Harvey Updyke, went to Toomers Corner and poisoned the trees using the herbicide Spike 80DF, a specialty herbicide which prevents the tree from photosynthesis.


The fan called into the Paul Finebaum sports talk show in Alabama and confessed on air to committing the class C felony.

The infected trees were removed and replaced and Updyke ended up getting a short prison sentence, probation and a $800,000 fine.

Strong ties to college football

If you wonder how deep the ties to agriculture are to college football, look no further than the Bowl games and their names.

We have the Cotton Bowl, the Rose Bowl, the Orange Bowl, the Bluebonnet Bowl, the Peach Bowl, the Citrus Bowl, the Idaho Potato Bowl, the Sugar Bowl and The Camellia Bowl.

Through the years, there have been others but most are named for regional importance such as cotton in Texas, oranges in Florida, and peaches in Georgia.

The Rose Bowl Parade features floats built with 18 million flowers each year, including primarily roses but also daisies and marigolds and others. The parade evolved to today from a time when horse carriages were flower decorated to today where floats are required to be built of plant material.

Today, new stadiums are built with extensive, beautiful landscapes and further our efforts to merge nature with entertainment/leisure time.

To Do’s this month

What in the world could we have to do in our landscapes during December? I mean, it’s cold out there!

While true, there are things we must take care of during the month. They are:

1. Bird Baths should be brought indoors or flip the removable bowl upside down during the next two months.

2. Remove your bird feeders and bird houses and clean them. Keep them inside until March or late February.

3. Leaves – They will be everywhere this month as Fall’s display is coming to an end and the beautiful now becomes a chore. It is unwise to simply leave your leaves wherever they fall. They can damage concrete (keeping it damp for extended periods of time) and can become a fire hazard. I recommend gather them up to the middle of the lawn and mulching through them over and over again, then spreading out over your beds or lawn or both. It is highly beneficial to return this organic matter to your soil.

4. Because our the grass clippings, dust and dirt that can get blown around during the landscape season, I recommend you take the time in the off-season (now) to clean your exterior AC units. Those coils can become coated in dirt/dust over the season and can cause inefficient operation. Simply remove the cover of the unit with the breaker turned off. Take a water hose and wash the coils from the inside-out. There’s no need to “blast” the unit with high pressure, just a steady nice spray will do. If you’re uncomfortable doing this yourself, just call on a handy man in your area.

5. If your beds look like the mulch is thin, it would be a good idea to add some before the next cold blast.

6. Make sure your freeze sensor (sprinkler system) is in good working order. Ask your landscaper or sprinkler tech to check it if you don't know how..

(Mark’s column each month is sponsored by Stagecoach Trailers, Inc., of Naples, Texas. Find them at www.stagecoachtrailers.com)


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