What is park maintenance?
Park maintenance includes all the work necessary to keep a public park area safe, clean, and operating efficiently to serve the needs of its visitors.
Park maintenance workers plant shrubs and flowers, mow grass, prune trees, and provide pesticide and fertilization services. They also maintain and manage the sprinkler and irrigation systems.
Cleaning and maintaining restrooms, picnic shelters, grills, playground equipment, fire pits, swimming pools, and walking trails are also part of park maintenance. In addition, maintenance empties trash cans throughout buildings and the outdoor areas. They care for, monitor, and repair signs, fences, equipment, pipes, and water filtration systems.
Types of park maintenance workers
Park maintenance workers include entry-level professionals through supervisory staff.
- Janitor: The janitorial staff manages the cleaning of restrooms, park buildings, and picnic shelters. Tasks include mopping floors, cleaning sinks and toilets, replacing light bulbs, sweeping out leaves and outdoor debris, vacuuming meeting areas, and washing windows and glass doors.
- Landscape professional: These individuals are responsible for planting flowers, shrubs, and bushes; mowing and weeding lawn areas; removing leaves and snow; managing irrigation systems; and fertilizing lawns. Maintaining signage and fencing are other responsibilities.
- Maintenance technician: These team members inspect, repair, and maintain park buildings including HVAC, electrical, and water. They are responsible for sharpening and servicing equipment and tools used by the landscape professionals.
- Maintenance supervisor: Supervisors oversee, assign, and manage the schedule of park maintenance workers. They hire, train, and monitor park maintenance workers and serve as a liaison between the department and park management or a board of directors.
Example of park maintenance
Park maintenance includes a broad range of tasks to keep a park enjoyable for all visitors. In many locations, park maintenance work may require some extra seasonal workers during the busiest times.
Once the spring season commences, park maintenance staff will be busy clearing away dead plants from winter, dry leaves, and other debris that accumulates during the off-season. Bushes and trees require pruning and fallen branches must be cleared away. Maintenance staff clears flower beds, fertilizes perennial plants, and enriches the soil for new annuals.
Technicians service mowers, sharpen blades, and prune shears. During this time, they also test irrigation systems so when the growing season goes into full swing the equipment is ready to go.
Park maintenance certifications and training
Park maintenance workers can become certified in various areas to further their careers and aspirations.
- Certified Park and Recreation Professional: Although this certification encompasses a broad range of parks and rec topics, it does include testing in the operations area. For a parks maintenance professional looking to learn more about the entire parks system, this can be a great opportunity for professional development through the National Recreation and Parks Association.
- Building Operator Certification: If a particular park has several buildings for community events, educational programming, and other parks services, park maintenance professionals may want to become a certified building operator. This certification trains and assesses professionals on energy management and HVAC systems through a network of approved providers.
- Public Grounds Management Certificate: Offered by the continuing education department of Rutgers, this program trains and evaluates professionals on tree and plant identification, basic pruning, athletic field maintenance and construction, and pest management.
- Playground Maintenance Technician Program: This certification program teaches practical playground maintenance procedures, inspection principles, and top practices in making repairs. It’s offered through the Eppley Institute for Parks and Public Lands at Indiana University.
Parks maintenance news and resources
- National Recreation and Parks Association: The NRPA is a non-profit organization that provides resources not only on parks maintenance topics but on all aspects of parks and recreation. It is a great resource to help professionals understand their role in the larger mission of the organization.
- State-based Parks Associations: Many states sponsors parks and recreation associations that provide resources, training, and networking opportunities for parks maintenance personnel.