The Grounds Maintenance team is responsible for carrying out various horticultural and grounds maintenance tasks on road verges, parks, sports pitches, cemeteries, other open spaces, shrub beds and floral displays. The team also carries out grounds maintenance throughout the district for some schools and parish councils.
The team manages Council playground inspections and repairs, ensuring that playgrounds are maintained to the national standards appropriate for children’s safety.
The majority of the team's work is grass cutting and hedge trimming. The team undertakes both activities throughout the growing season, with the timing of cuts being dependent on a variety of parameters, not least the plant type and its growing speed.
Occasionally residents may question why we do not collect the grass clippings from verges and open spaces. With more than 4.2km2 of grass cut every few weeks on average, a rough estimate of 2000 tonnes of grass would need to be disposed each year, which would be extremely expensive.
The best environmental option is also to leave the clippings on the grass. It does not produce the methane gas associated with composting or landfill, and at 80% water the clippings quickly decompose, providing a natural mulch, feeding the worms and fertilizing the soil.
Our operatives use blowers to clear pavements after cutting, but this can be difficult in wet or very windy weather. Spring cuts are always more noticeable as the grass is growing faster and clippings are therefore longer; this slows through the summer season and clippings become much shorter.
The team does not cut hedges during the bird nesting period from March to the end of June, unless there is a real safety risk such as an obstruction to the highway or road junction sight lines.
We take any use of glyphosate and/or associated products seriously. As a result, we fully consider each individual situation before using these products. We have reduced our usage and we will continue to review our usage, whilst also ensuring that service delivery is maintained. We do use other methods of control, and these will be used instead, where effective.
With regard to using glyphosate on our land, the following always applies:
- All of the herbicides we use have a MAPP (Ministry Approved Pesticide Product) number, which means that they have undergone strict assessment before being permitted to be used on public or private land. Part of this assessment is done by the UK Expert Committee on Pesticides (ECP): this provides independent, impartial advice to the government on the science relating to pesticides. It's 15 expert members include the chair, who is a leading professional, together with doctors, vets and experts who advise on chemistry and dietary exposure. Only when they are completely satisfied that a product is safe to use, will they recommend to the government that it is safe to do so.
- We adhere to any updates or guidance in relation to any products we use.
- For the products we use, the active ingredients are a non-irritant and they are non-residual. This means they are not long-lasting and they become inactivated when in contact with soil.
- Our staff are fully trained and certificated on the safe use of pesticides and take all appropriate care to minimise exposure to the public, their pets and wildlife. Our staff also carry out assessments if spraying near watercourses.
You can report overgrown grass, shrubs or hedges here: My Test Valley or contact Customer Services on 01264 368000 or 01794 527700.