Lawns to Meadows Plan and Implementation

Project Leads: Jim Horner & Theron Klos

Sponsor: Facilities Services & Capital Projects

TGIF Grant: $40,000

Additional Funds: $1,000

Project Theme: Habitat Restoration

Project Location

2009 Application Submission

Status: Complete

Project Description: This project will prepare a master plan that includes locations, methodology, and plant palettes for converting selected grass lawns to regionally appropriate plants and promotes more efficient use of water and fossil fuel resources while respecting how open space is used.

Goals: Develop a master plan for converting grass lawns to regionally appropriate plants. Promote efficient use of potable water resources and improve energy efficiency by reducing fossil fuel consumption. Create more native habitats for plant and wildlife biodiversity. Assist campus in planting drought tolerant plans and creating organic lawns and playing fields. Reduce the current use of 47,530,000 gal per year of water for the campus landscape irrigation system. Assemble a team of landscape industry specialists experienced in development of contemporary ecological landscapes and materials as well as campus maintenance staff and students. Develop the approach, baseline data, plant lists, and priority sites through a series of open workshops. Present a draft master plan to Facilities Services and the Design Review Committee. Refine the plan and prepare contract documents to implement trial conversions in two representative areas. Install educational signage to inform the campus community about the projects. Involve students to help perform post construction evaluations and data gathering every three months for 18 months to document water use, plant growth and refine the maintenance practices. Update the Landscape Master Plan and Landscape Heritage Plan websites to reflect the revised goals.

TGIF Blog Posts about Lawns to Meadows

2012 Poster

Map of Lawns at North West Campus

2010-2011 AccomplishmentsHildebrand Hall

  • In March, Lawns to Meadows received an additional allocation of $1,000 from TGIF to hire a student intern. The intern's duties will include designing and producing signage for the converted lawns and creation of a PowerPoint and posters to assist with the construction bidding for fall. The main focus will be on the lawn in front of Anthony Hall and the lawn behind the Alumni Annex building running alongside Strawberry Creek. UC Berkeley graduate student Kathy Tong was hired for the position.
  • The Lawns to Meadows Master Plan was approved by Vice Chancellor Denton.
  • Two large lawn areas near Strawberry Creek were converted into meadows.
  • A new lawn conversion south of Hildebrand Hall was completed. Jim Horner leveraged funds from the construction project to replace the mowed turf lawn with a Native Grassland sod that should only need to be cut once or twice a year. The project also employed the latest low precipitation irrigation heads to get the sod established and keep it alive.
  • Grounds removed turf south of Birge Hall and began replacing it with groundcovers and perennials; Ground also began working on other lawns based on the Lawns to Meadows Workshop recommendations.
  • The already converted sites feature drip irrigation (a low precipitation system), porous concrete and decomposed granite paths, pavement and stone pavers set in sand, native grassland sods, native grass blends (which only need to be mowed 1-2 times per year), organic tanbark groundcovers, seasonal flowering plants, and drought tolerant perennial plants.

Hildebrand Hall"We are making great progress. Two large lawn areas near Strawberry Creek have recently been transformed. The photos are of a new lawn conversion south of Hildebrand Hall. I leveraged funds from the construction project to replace the mowed turf lawn with a Native Grassland sod that should only need to be cut once or twice a year. As it grows it will start to look very shaggy. We employed the latest low precipitation irrigation heads to get it established and keep it alive. Grounds has also removed turf south of Birge Hall and is starting to replace it with groundcovers and perennials in addition to other sites previously mentioned on the list of potential sites."
-Jim Horner, 6/15/11

2010-2011 Year End Report

Turf Grass Conversions Update, April 2011

  1. Pomodoro Sculpture – 2010 replaced worn turf around sculpture with stone pavers set in sand funded by the Class of 1953
  2. Wheeler Steam Access – 2011 replaced turf grass on north side of Wheeler Hall with mixed planting funded by Workers Comp safety project
  3. Wellman Courtyard – 2009 replaced narrow lawn strips around the parking lot edges with decomposed granite and bike parking funded by bike parking
  4. Anthony Hall – 2011 proposed – remove south lawn and replace with drought tolerant groundcover and low shrub plantings funded by the Lawns to Meadows TGIF grant
  5. Alumni House Lawn at Strawberry Creek – 2012 proposed – replace lawn with creek habitat riparian plants and access pathway funded by the Lawns to Meadows TGIF grant
  6. Lawn north of Memorial Stadium at Kleeberger parking lot – 2010 replaced by SAHPC and CMS development of the site around the stadium. Replaced principaly by pavement and selected plantings.
  7. West Gate Kiosk and University Drive median – 2012 proposed – replace lwn with long row of flowering cherries and under plantings as proposed and funded by the UC Berkeley Japanese American Alumni Association.
  8. Birge Hall at Strawberry Creek – 2011 Grounds sponsored conversion with volunteers from and the Bay Friendly Landscaping classes.
  9. Stephens Hall to Faculty Glade access path – 2009 reduced the lawn under oaks and replaced it with native plants as part of a disabled access barrier reduction path of travel project.
  10. Law School West Terrace and Infill – 2010 to 2011 – replaced large lawn on south side and turf area west of the law school with new plazas and terraces as part of the construction project and first phase of implementation of the College Plaza Master Plan.
  11. Hargrove Music Library – 2006 – replaced a turf slope east of the Hearst North Field with the new music library.
  12. Strawberry Fields – 2010 – Grounds proposed a native plant garden. A west sloping lawn bisected by a short cut path was replaced with this demonstration garden, porous paving and decomposed granite path funded by a CACS Grant.
  13. Speiker Plaza Ticket Booth – 2011 – Athletics asked to place a a ticket structure on a lawn panel next to Haas Pavilion.
  14. Hildebrand Laydown Area – 2011 proposed – Converting a little used turfgrass lawn above Strawberry Creek with a native no mow mixed species grass. Funded by the restoration of a construction staging area site.

Next Steps: The Anthony Hall site is exposed to south facing sun and thus requires a large amount of water for maintenance of the lawn, currently requiring 661 gallons per week, which translates to approximately 26,460 gallons per year. The project team proposes the conversion of the current lawn to drought tolerant ground covers and low shrub plantings to be used as lawn substitutes. These steps will reduce the need for maintenance and repairs, while simultaneously lowering water costs. The lawn behind the Alumni Annex building is an open north facing lawn. The proposed changes will save water (current water usage: 3,600 gallons per week and 144,000 gallons per year) and reduce maintenance while still retaining open space and creek side sitting space qualities.

2011-2012 Accomplishments

  • Student intern Kathy Tong was hired with the additional $1000 TGIF grant. Her completed tasks included conducting a water audit, designing and producing signage for the converted lawns, preparing base plans, and creating a project PowerPoint and project posters.
  • Contract documents, which included water meters, an irrigation system design, a planting design, were created for the test sites.
  • Trial conversions were tested and signage installed at 5 conversion sites

Lawns to Meadows Presentation at May CACS Meeting

Project Photos

Next Steps: Compare water, fuel, and labor use to baseline data, and observe other changes to flora and fauna at conversion sites. Project leader Jim Horner received TGIF permission to postpone the Anthony Hall lawn conversion as Fall/Winter 2012 construction at Anthony Hall will have be impacting the lawn. Conversion of the Anthony Hall lawn will commence upon completion of construction activities. The work on Anthony Hall is part of the Student Community Center improvements and will help the Graduate Assembly to get LEED certification for Anthony Hall.

2012-2013 Accomplishments
The Anthony Hall Landscape Conversion was designed through a collaboration between Lutsko Associates and Capital Projects. The conversion took place early spring semester 2013. 

Anthony Hall Before Anthony Hall After 1
Anthony Hall Before Anthony Hall After
Anthony Hall Before Anthony Hall After

Mission Statement

The Green Initiative Fund (TGIF) provides funding for projects that reduce UC Berkeley's negative impact on the environment and make UC Berkeley more sustainable. TGIF will allocate funds to projects that promote sustainable modes of transportation, increase energy and water efficiency, restore habitat, promote environmental and food justice, and reduce the amount of waste created by UC Berkeley. Portions of the fund also support education and behavior change initiatives, student aid (via return to aid), and internships. TGIF is supported by student fees and administered through a student-majority committee and a program coordinator.