Archbishop Spalding High School: Cavalier Spirit Shines with a Massive Landscape Renovation

You know you’re in Cavalier territory as soon as you arrive on the campus of Archbishop Spalding High School. 

Red and white plants in the impressive new landscaping add not just bright pops of color, but a healthy dose of school spirit.

The private Catholic high school in Severn, MD operates under the Archdiocese of Baltimore and serves the greater Annapolis and Baltimore areas. 

It’s a prestigious school. Nearly 100 percent of its 1,200 students go on to college. A respected athletic program keeps outdoor sports fields busy and championship trophies adding up. 

When it was time to rejuvenate the school campus landscaping, they partnered with Level Green Landscaping. 

“We wanted the way it looks outside to represent the good things happening inside,” said Tyler Kreft, the Level Green account manager who works with the school. 

What does that take? Kreft walks us through the changes and challenges.

Time to Start Over

Level Green started working with the school in February, 2023. First up: a complete landscape renovation. 

“The existing landscaping was overgrown and most of the plants had reached their life expectancy,” Kreft says. “Our landscape designer came up with a full design plan.”

While majestic mature trees stayed, almost everything else had to go. 

“We removed the understory plants like overgrown euonymus, burning bush, and nandina so we had a blank slate,” Kreft says. 

That blank slate needed a ton of new plant material. Crews installed 629 healthy new shrubs and a whopping 2,131 assorted perennials.

“Besides wanting plants that show off their school colors year round, they wanted plants that don’t get too big and become a safety issue,” Kreft says. “We used low-lying plants for clean sight line views and plants that soften the hard edges of the buildings and hardscape.”

But first, a soil boost. 

“The school has very sandy soil, so we added a lot of organic matter to enrich the soil and help it retain moisture,” Kreft says.

Weekly Maintenance Keeps Things Tidy

Meticulous weekly maintenance covers all the crucial tasks needed to keep the school property’s landscaping tidy and healthy, from mowing and blowing to weeding and trimming. 

Level Green crews keep an eye on shrub and tree health, too, trimming as needed, making sure wayward branches don’t snag passersby, and elevating canopies for visibility and healthy growth. 

landscape team inspect flowers at property

Crews cover the property, always on the lookout for potential safety issues. 

A full fertilizer and weed control program keeps the turf healthy and green for important first-impression appeal. 

landscape maintenance team unloads at high school

Kreft and Level Green crew members keep an eye out for issues before they become problems, from dead or dying branches that could tumble down to plant diseases or insects that can spread and damage landscaping.

Tackling a Few Challenges

The Archbishop Spalding school property comes with a few challenges:

  • Student drop off is between 7:30 and 8 a.m. each day — about the same time Level Green crews start their work on the property. They don’t want their trucks and equipment interfering with the busy traffic flow, so crews park in the church lot next door. 

  • Several buildings make up the school campus, and students walk between them as they switch classes. Crews stay out of the way, turning off blowers and trimmers as needed to keep pedestrians safe. 

  • Two outdoor courtyards are completely surrounded by school buildings, with the only access through the inside. That means crews have to bring in push mowers to mow the courtyard lawns and bins to collect weeds and landscaping debris. 

  • There’s an extra challenge at mulch time in the spring, when crews need to bring wheelbarrows of mulch through school hallways to spread in the courtyard beds. Crews need to protect the school’s tile floors so they put down a layer of padding topped by tarps.

It’s All About the Details

“Appearance, functionality and safety are all important to them,” Kreft says. “Everything has to be clean and well kept. We can’t be causing any hindrance when we’re on site. 

“They have a board they report to, and donors they need to keep happy,” he says. “They want the grounds to look great all the time. It’s all about staying on top of details.”

landscape beds at school with plantings flowers and trees

Just one example: Mulch tends to escape the beds, spilling onto the concrete. That means frequent sweeping to scoot it back into place. 

The solution: Level Green crews spray it with mulch stabilizer, a sticky solution that acts like a glue to help wayward mulch stay put.

Keeping Athletic Fields Fit for Champions

While the high school’s football field is artificial turf, the soccer field is real grass. It takes a beating.

“The grass dies in the middle from the players running back and forth,” Kreft says.  “We removed half an acre of sod and replaced it, and also replaced sod by the goals.”

grass on sports field at high school

Level Green crews mow most of the school property every 7 to 10 days to a height of 3.5 to 4 inches. But they mow the soccer field every four days at a height of 2 inches so it’s always the perfect height for competition. 

While the football field is artificial turf, it still needs attention. Aggressive weeds tend to sprout in the area between the turf and the track. 

football field and track at high school

“We can’t spray them with weed killer, because that would discolor the artificial turf,” Kreft says. “So we meticulously pull them all by hand.”

The extra effort reflects what happens on the fields. 

“They put a lot of effort into their sports program,” Kreft says. “They win championships. We want to make sure their fields stand up to the results they deliver out there on those fields, whether that means new sod or lowering the height of the grass for better playability or hand pulling weeds.”

Go Cavaliers! Plants Show School Spirit

Red and white drift roses and red and white begonias are no-brainer choices here for summer color, but creative plant choices bring the Cavaliers red and white throughout the seasons:

flowers at entrance sign to high school

‘Gro-Low’ Sumac

Perfectly planted in front of the sports courtyard that leads to the Cavaliers stadium, this ground cover turns a fiery red in the fall, offering knockout school spirit.

‘Ruby Slippers’ Oakleaf Hydrangea

Go white! Go red! This beauty offers the best of both worlds, offering big fluffy white blooms in the summer that age to a deep pinkish-red. Vibrant fall foliage adds bonus appeal.

‘Firepower’ Nandina

One of the most colorful evergreen shrubs around, this nandina’s vibrant red fall foliage adds color right through the winter.

‘Monroe's White’ Liriope

This grass-like evergreen features milky white flower spikes that rise above rich green, grassy foliage clumps in summer. It does double duty, brightening shady areas of the landscape and giving the school colors a blooming shout out.

Planters Dress Up Graduation

The highlight of the school year, graduation deserves extra attention.

Level Green crews brought in 18 planters to dress up the outdoor stage set up on the football field.

flowers at entrance to high school

Brimming with fancy palms and eye-catching annuals, they added festive appeal to the important celebration. 

After graduation the planters were moved to the school’s three entrances. Then, after the summer blooms faded, the planters were filled with spruce trees, red nandina, boxwoods, red coral bells and vinca vine for fall and winter appeal.

Bye, Snow

Snow removal is part of the school’s contract. 

“Because they’re a school, when we get snow they’ll just close,” Kreft says. “Meanwhile, we’ll get in there and get everything clear.”

Plowing crews take photos of their progress with their cell phone cameras to keep school officials posted on their progress. 

account manager meets with property manager

The next day when the sun is shining, snow crews are still vigilant. If the temperature drops down to the 20s or low 30s at night, all those leftover puddles freeze.

Treating that new ice in the days following a storm is essential to keep people from slipping.

Keeping Great Ideas Coming

Kreft is a fountain of inspiration, bringing new ideas for how to improve the school’s landscaping. 

aerial photo of parking lot area at high school

Parking lot island innovation. An impressive bed of plants that make a bold statement as you enter the school property. A landscaped trail from the parking lot to the softball dugouts.

No Luck on the Phone? Tyler Shows Up

The school chief financial officer, Kreft’s main contact, is always busy. He often can’t reach her by email or phone. So he drives over to talk to her in person. 

“It’s just a 10-minute drive from Level Green,” he says. 

Personal service is part of the plan. 

“The last landscaping company they had just showed up to mow, then left,” Kreft says. “I wanted to show them everything that Level Green could provide.

“Landscaping is the first impression people get,” Kreft says, “whether it’s a school or a hospital or an office building. It’s a reflection of what’s going on inside. We want to make sure the outside of the school looks as good as what’s going on inside.”

Looking to take your commercial property to the next level? Contact us today and see how Level Green Landscaping can help.

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Tyler Kreft

“We wanted the way it looks outside to represent the good things happening inside.”

Tyler Kreft
Account Manager
Level Green Landscaping