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UT students to give new roundabout landscaping makeover

The University of Toledo is partnering with the Lucas County Engineer’s Office to give the roundabout at the intersection of Dorr Street and King Road a new look from the ground up.

Dozens of students in UT’s Department of Environmental Sciences will plant flowering species native to the Oak Openings region next week at the new 67-foot diameter traffic island in Springfield Township.

UT environmental science students will plant flowering species native to the Oak Openings region this week in the new roundabout at the intersection of Dorr Street and King Road.

UT environmental science students will plant flowering species native to the Oak Openings region this week in the new roundabout at the intersection of Dorr Street and King Road.

“People may be surprised that we specifically wanted bare sand to begin the gardens,” said Dr. Todd Crail, UT environmental studies lecturer, who regularly moves his classroom outdoors for student service learning. “The plants we use are adapted to this type of soil, as well as the regional climate. Therefore, they need little maintenance or watering once established and — more importantly — do not require fertilizer.”

The Lucas County Engineer’s office paid $7,000 for nearly 9,000 native species plants to be used in this project. According to the county, it costs on average $11,000 for labor and materials to plant a more traditional, non-native landscape that also requires continuous weeding.

“The county is actually saving money by going this landscaping route both initially at the outset and over the long term because native species require minimal upkeep,” said Kyle Warner, a traffic/design engineer with the Lucas County Engineer’s Office. “As Todd and his group of volunteers are donating their labor, more money can be focused on the native plants themselves with the idea that a denser planting pattern will reduce the opportunity for weed growth. It’s a self-sustaining landscape that does not need mulch or fertilizer, and it requires very little — if any — watering or maintenance after two to three years. Even if we put down rock or stone, it would require ongoing labor and harsh chemicals to treat and prevent weed growth.”

The students will plant predominantly herbaceous species that also keep weeds at bay by taking up nutrients and space. Plants include black-eyed Susans, butterfly milkweed, dotted horsemint, prairie thimbleweed, rattlesnake master, rough blazing star, wild bergamot and wild blue lupine.

Last year, UT students planted the roundabout at Dorr Street and Centennial Road.