Team Spotlight: TPA's Landscape team keeps Airport looking lush
Bright green grass, perfectly manicured, and vibrant foliage greet you on the drive into Tampa International Airport. Large, lush planters can be seen throughout the Main Terminal and Airsides.
Beautifying the Airport is a big job. And an important one at that.
Travelers pass some of TPA's prettiest pots while rushing to and from locations, perhaps thinking the plants are all fake. But all of the plants, flowers and greenery you see at TPA are very real and alive, and the team responsible for them work seven days a week.
“We get the comments that the plants look fake all the time, and we like to hear it,” said Jesus Perez.
Perez has been with TPA for four years and loves the hands-on nature of his job. Almost all the plants you see on the property are grown and cared for in-house, courtesy of a large greenhouse. If people think they're phony, so be it. To Perez, it means that they are doing the best job of keeping the plants healthy, happy and growing.
Inside the Airport there are nearly 3,500 varieties of plants that change with the seasons. Tulips are housed in some of the planters for the spring season, for example.
The planters are there for more than just aesthetics, though. They contribute to the comfort of the passengers and provide fresh air along with color and life in a bustling area that sees close to an average of 60,000 passengers daily.
The interior plants make a statement and first impressions are everything. No one knows that better than Erik Schotsch.
Schotsch is the Crew Lead for the Exterior Landscape team which is responsible for any landscaping on the property and handles maintenance, including weeding, edging, leaf blowing and mowing and more.
“I love being outside,” Schotsch said. “The heat definitely takes a toll on you, but I like it better than being inside."
Maintaining such a vast property such as an airport and airfield requires a lot of heavy equipment. The newest addition is an electric mower that is whisper-quiet and contributes directly to TPA’s ongoing quest to be more sustainable and eco–minded by cutting back on fuel consumption.
Keeping the expanse of the property adequately hydrated in this Florida heat is challenging, as most Floridian homeowners know. Jimmy Davis, an irrigation technician for the exterior landscape, is the man behind the scenes responsible for making sure the system is as efficient and sustainable as possible.
Davis has been handling irrigation for the last 15 years at TPA, which has allowed him to learn the expansive, complex system housing nearly 85,000 sprinkler heads and 673 zones.
“I just enjoy fixing everything and making sure the landscape stays green and beautiful,” Davis said.
According to Davis, around 10,000 gallons of reclaimed water are used each month along the main irrigation line. The system itself can be controlled remotely, turned on and off as needed.
Each subsect of the landscape team works to keep the plants and greenery at TPA looking their best. The next time you take a breath of fresh air in the Main Terminal or admire the freshly cut grass, remember the team dedicated to making it all happen and doing so sustainably.
“Just make sure you stay off the grass,” Schotsch said with a smile.