Southfielder Spotlight on Steven Griffith and the Park Services Team
Steven Griffith is in his second year as the Park Services Superintendent for the City of Southfield. He has been in the field for over 25 years. He has worked independently as a Design Consultant and a Construction Manager on both commercial and residential projects.
Southfielder Spotlight contributor Pleze Moore took time to speak with Steven and to discuss how his small Park Services team, which he’s tabbed, “The Magnificent Twelve.” They are responsible for keeping the Southfield Municipal Campus, city parks, driving ranges and other areas within the City of Southfield so beautiful.
Pleze: OK, let us start from the top. Lay out what it takes to make this campus beautiful the way you guys do.
Steven: We have 12 employees on the team which includes part-time, seasonal, and full-time employees. We have an administration, a supervisor, and a superintendent. It’s nonstop. When I start looking at all the parks, and everything we take care of and do, I am really looking at how do we do all of this with only twelve people. It is amazing! Could we do more if we had more people? Without a doubt. We take care of 700 acres of property. We have over 18 parks we take care of. We do get some assistance from DPW (Department of Public Works) in mowing some of the parks, which is a great benefit. We could not do it all right now with only 12 people.
We have 4 parks and picnic shelters. We have a driving range we take care of. We have 12 Baseball diamonds, 3 Soccer fields, 6 Volleyball courts, 11 Tennis courts, 4 Pickleball courts, which are brand new and not up and running yet, but hopefully by next year they will be. We have (6) Basketball courts. We have Racquetball courts and or Handball Courts.
It is nonstop from day to day. We try to have everything on schedule for mowing as much as possible. The weather does its routine on us often. But between all the parks we have, and the trail system on the Southfield Municipal campus, I believe it is between a 1.5-2-mile trail system. We take care of all the mulch here on campus, which is over 200 yards. We take care of the mulch on the playgrounds and all the parks; that is 560 yards. We always have that done every year. Besides all the weeding, which is a daily routine, we have shrub pruning, tree pruning, and required everyday maintenance. We have over 200 garbage cans that need to be emptied daily between all the parks and the Southfield Municipal campus. The more we look at everything we do; I wonder how we do all of this.
Pleze: Right now, my head is just dizzy with the small team you have and the responsibility of such a massive task.
Steven: It is a massive task. We do all the Annuals; I am not going to tell you how many Flats we put down. We put down a ton of Flats.
Besides all of the parks, there is Driving Range over at Beech Woods. We take care of that too. Beech Woods gets mowed once a week. The driving range, and then the existing golf course at Beech Woods. After shutting down 4.5-5 years ago we still maintain two holes and the putting green. Everything else is shut down on the course, but those two are still maintained, just for appearance. You want to see something nice from the road; you don’t want to see it overgrown.
Pleze: Are there any new plans for Beech Woods?
Steven: There are talks happening, but that is as far as they go for now. We did have a Master Plan with the City of Southfield for developing Beech Woods, and it is still going to get developed into more of a park with a nature reserve and walking trail.
Pleze: Who comes up with the Master Plan?
Steven: The Master Plan at Beech Woods was brought out to residents. We sent out a big survey to residents over the past year and a half. We asked them what they wanted for their park. They gave us back lots of good feedback and we implemented it into a design. We also work with OHM, an Engineering Design Firm we use in the City of Southfield.
Pleze: Is OHM involved in the design work of the flowers and plants out front?
Steven: No. That is on Park Services. We design everything out there. We are going to start altering it a little bit. It looks beautiful out there.
Pleze: Yes, it does!
Steven: Sometimes we can only get certain flowers. The last two years we were not able to get Begonias at all, so we just switched over to a different plant material.
Pleze: For concerts and events, does Park Services work with Parks & Recreation?
Steven: We work hand and hand together. If they need any tents, garbage cans, or if they need any workers during or after the concert picking up trash, we help them. Larger tents are contracted through different sources like tent facilities. But a lot goes into getting ready for the Kimmie Horne Jazz Festival. We went ahead and had everything trimmed up again, and re-mulched everything in the front, just for that concert. That way everything would look perfect. The whole front lawn was completely done in two weeks. That’s what it’s all about: appearance.
Pleze: What would be four pieces of advice for residents looking to beautify their lawns?
- Keep it simple, do not get in over your head, it’s easy to do that. Sometimes putting a bunch of flowers in is not the answer you need for your house. Sometimes it’s just a matter of trimming the shrubs, mowing the lawn and weeding out the beds that you already have. That is the number one thing to start with. Start with that and you will have a good base.
- Do something simple. How much time can you afford to spend on the weekend working in your yard? That is going to dictate how many flowers you put in. Whether you are using Annuals or whether you are going to use Perennials, it is all a matter of time. If you do not have time to put in it, keep it simple. Trim the shrubs, cut the lawn and edge it. Just do the simple stuff for it to look nice. You do not have to spend $30,000 on landscaping to have a beautiful looking house. If it looks cool and crisp that is half the battle.
- Annuals: you can do lots with different annuals. You can do a little bed. You can shape a little bed in your landscaping that makes everything pop quick with color. It is as easy as buying baskets; hang them from your deck or the front of your house. Regarding maintaining your baskets, water them. It is simple when they die toss them out and get ready for next year.
- If you’re more advanced in landscaping, go at it, but don’t bite off more than you can chew. Start simple. You can design a bed and work with what you have. You can carve out a different design in your landscaping bed, plant flowers around your trees, mailbox or lamp post. Start simple and when you know you can manage that, advance a little bit.
Pleze: What are some of the mistakes that homeowners make?
- A homeowner will hire a contractor and say, “make my yard look beautiful” and the contractor will say, “sure no problem. I’m going to make it look top notch.” The contractor gets all these flowers and gets paid. The house looks beautiful when the contractor leaves, but a month later, it starts looking rough. Weeds start popping up and plants need to be trimmed. The biggest mistake is not being able to maintain what you just purchased. Residents also need to water the plants they just purchased; it is an investment.
- Everyone talks about curb appeal. When reselling your house, it is huge. You can just go in and put nice landscaping in. Just trim the shrubs and keep the yard mowed. You are going to get more for your dollar than you would if you let everything go to weeds and everything else.
- Fertilizing is great, but you must be conscious with that. There are a lot of different companies out there. some people go with organic fertilizer, which is supposedly chemical free. Apply more of that. Some people go with more of the pesticide application and they are very aggressive, but there is a cost for that, you are talking anywhere from $80 an application and up, and they do it 7-8 times a year. Do you need all that?
- Overfertilizing can definitely damage your yard. Over-watering can damage things. People think you need to water every single day. You don’t. If you start watering every day, you’re going to have to keep watering or train your lawn to accept water at a different level. You can start small, go every 2 or 3 days. It all depends on what the weather does. but you must water every single day to have a healthy-looking lawn. You must train the lawn to accept what you’re giving it under the conditions of which you can supply it.
- Aeration is great. Some people do it, some do not. It’s those little plugs in the lawn that look like Goose poop. Aeration is fantastic for the grass because it gets oxygen to it.
Pleze: The residents will really appreciate that bit of information; especially the residents who compete yearly for the “Southfield Community Pride Awards.”
Steven: I’m sure they will.
Pleze: Well Steve, thank you for taking the time out to share with the readers all that you and your team of “Magnificent Twelve” do in keeping the city’s grounds beautiful.
Steven: You’re welcome, and Pleze thank you for recognizing us.
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