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Physical Plant sprays grass green

USF’s green grass may not be so green after all. Physical Plant is using an eco-friendly material that helps damaged grass recover from harsh weather such as freezes.

Sherman Dorn, professor of education and president of the USF chapter of United Faculty of Florida, said he thought he saw Physical Plant workers spraying grass with green paint one morning.

“I was driving onto campus and turned onto Leroy Collins Boulevard heading toward the parking garage, and as I was passing by the Library, three Physical Plant staff were spraying the grass with something,” Dorn said.

He said he realized there had been a freeze the night before, but was still confused.

“Then I realized the color of the liquid was green,” Dorn said.

The grass the workers sprayed had turned brown because of the winter frosts.

“Part of the median was bright green and the rest of it was brown and yellow,” Dorn said. “When I came back later in the day, the entire median that is closest to the Administration (Building) was bright green.”

Siva Prakash, associate director of Physical Plant, said the grass sometimes turns brown because of a freeze.

“We put vegetable material (down) that works like dye, and it turns the grass green,” he said.

The vegetable material is an affordable alternative to constantly watering the grass or replacing dead grass. The material used on Leroy Collins Boulevard cost $100 and was not bought recently, Prakash said.

He said the same vegetable spray is used on some football fields and golf courses, though not the ones at USF.

The University began using the spray about five years ago, but it was not needed in the past few years, Prakash said.

He said that Physical Plant sprays the material only on especially visible areas to keep the grass looking nice, and that no additional labor is needed.

Dorn said USF should direct efforts toward more important things than the color of its grass.

“Money should be spent in reserves for the basic criticalness of the University,” he said. “I want you to be able to get the classes you need to graduate. I don’t care what color the grass is.”

Eric Alliman, a freshman majoring in political science, said it seemed like an arbitrary use of money.

“It is grass — we understand it dies. If nature kills it, oh well,” he said. “We don’t need to spend $100 to spray the grass just so it looks pretty.”

Additional reporting by Hannah Feig.