Project data
Authors Thomas Premo
Bryce Scriven
Matt Wardynski
Location California, Humboldt, United States
Status Implemented
Completed 2017
Cost USD 142.28
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Trevor Hammons, a supervisor at Zane Middle School in Eureka, CA requested to renovate a rectangle in front of the school, which was made up of mulch and a few pitiful plants, by making it more presentable and useful for the students. Team Work, a group of aspiring environmental engineers from the spring semester Engineering 215 class, was up for the task. By planting ceanothus and azaleas with care, the rectangle was transformed into a much more aesthetically pleasing space for the students.

A front view of Zane Middle School.

Background[edit | edit source]

Part of the rectangle prior to beautification.

Cal Poly Humboldt offers a unique engineering design class, which pairs its students with actual clients to work through the design process. In the Spring semester of 2017, Thomas Premo, Bryce Scriven, Matthew Wardynski, and Tyler Wilkins were paired up with Trevor Hammons, the representative for Zane Middle School, in Eureka, CA. Zane Middle School is a 6th-8th-grade Magnet school with S.T.E.A.M. being their focus. Posed with the task of improving the sorry state of a rectangle of mulch in the front of the school, the ENGR 215 students started their project, appropriately named, "Mulch Makeover."

Problem Statement and Citeria[edit | edit source]

The criteria help define the project's needs by organizing a list of elements that can be rated in order of importance, not just a yes/no categorization.

Criterion Importance Constraints
Cost 3 The project must be cost-effective for the good of the client and the engineers.
Durability 8 The project must be durable so it continues to be used at the school.
Ease of Maintenance 6 The project must be able to be easily maintained so it can stay in optimal shape and be manageable work for the grounds people.
Safety 9 The project must be as safe as possible so the kids do not injure themselves.
Eco-Friendly 8 The project must be environmentally sound not only so it is beneficial for the ecosystem, but also because it has a better influence on the students.
Accessibility 6 The project must be accessible so the students can easily walk through space and have places to wait to be picked up by their parents.
Visual Aesthetics 7 The project must be visually appealing in order to make the school a more pleasing environment in general.

Final Design[edit | edit source]

The final design is one that creates an aesthetically pleasing and safe area for students to learn in.

The design incorporates six Ceanothus plants that are native to the Humboldt area. These plants were chosen for their attributes of being drought resistant, evergreen, and easy to maintain. They will last for years to come as well as help teach the children about the environment they live in.

The design also incorporates two azaleas, which are placed at the ends of the rectangle. The beautiful evergreen plants contribute to the visual aesthetics of the design.

Costs[edit | edit source]

The costs described in this section include the hours each team member spent on the project, as well as the expected implementation and maintenance costs of the project.

Material Cost[edit | edit source]

The table below shows the cost of the materials purchased to implement the Mulch Makeover project.

Quantity Material Retail Cost ($ ea.) Total ($)
1 Soil Test Kit 20.60 20.60
6 Ceanothus Plant 11.99 70.00
4 Crimson Hino Plant 11.99 51.68
Total Cost $142.28

Labor Cost[edit | edit source]

The total amount of time spent on the project by all four group members was 152.6 hours. The Pi chart below shows that time broken down into sections of the Design Process.

Fig 2: Pi chart

Maintenance Cost[edit | edit source]

The Mulch Makeover project does not require a lot of maintenance. The plants will have to be trimmed monthly once they start growing but this, along with watering and sweeping up the mulch, are tasks already performed by the school and will come at little to no additional cost.

Maintenance Task Frequency
Trimming plants monthly
Watering weekly
Cleaning up mulch weekly

Testing Results[edit | edit source]

Ground Soil Test[edit | edit source]

A soil test was taken at the site to assess the soil's pH and determine if anything needed to be added to it to assist plant growth. The soil test showed that the soil had a pH between 6.0 and 6.5, a fairly ideal soil condition for plant growth. These results were taken into consideration when selecting plants.

Fig 1: The results of the soil test.

How to Build[edit | edit source]

The following images and steps, show the process we followed to complete this project (Images to come after construction)


Survey the area you where you will be working

  1. Take measurements, photos, and document observations that may be relevant
  2. This is also a good time to research and decide which plants/trees you will be planting in the site

Acquire tools For planting

  1. Procedures for planting trees will differ between different types, therefore follow the recommended method for planting your specific species of tree.

Remove the existing ground cover

  1. Remove the existing layer of ground cover.
  2. In our scenario the site was covered in old, trampled over mulch.
  3. We removed the mulch using shovels, rakes, and wheelbarrows.

Plant your plants

  1. Fill planting areas with recommended amount of soil.
  2. Then place plants into soil following specific species planting instructions.

Install benches

  1. Drill holes into concrete where the benches will be mounted to the ground.
  2. Place benches over previously drilled holes and secure to ground using correct hardware.

Project Video[edit | edit source]

Discussion[edit | edit source]

Our project focused on providing a visually pleasing and environmentally friendly area for students and faculty to enjoy. All of the plants we used are drought tolerant, which helps conserve water for other uses. The benches that will be installed at a later date, were already owned by the school district and therefore makes our project more cost effective. If you have any questions or comments regarding our project, please feel free to share your thoughts on our discussion tab.

Next steps[edit | edit source]

The Mulch Makeover was completed and will last for years to come with minimal maintaining provided by the Zane Middle School grounds crew. At a later date, benches will be installed by Zane to provide a place for the students to sit down. There will be four benches installed adjacent to each of the planter sections. These benches will provide some protection to getting trampled over by making the students walk around the planter areas.

Conclusions[edit | edit source]

This project had a few snags, however, with our culminated skills, the group has overcome the adversities. We planted 4 Hino-crimson Azalea plants as well as 6 Ceanothus plants in the mulched area to bring more life into the rectangle. The weeds have been taken out making the rectangle look more orderly, and the mulch has been raked over to make space look more fresh and new. This project has heightened our skills to work together and complete tasks to create a beautiful project and have it come together.

Page data
Type Project
Keywords garden, mulch, school ground, ceanothus plant, crimson hino plant, soil test kit
SDG Sustainable Development Goals SDG04 Quality education, SDG11 Sustainable cities and communities
Authors Tyler, Thomas Premo, Bryce Scriven
Published 2017
License CC-BY-SA-3.0
Affiliations Zane Middle School, Cal Poly Humboldt, Engr215 Introduction to Design
Language English (en)
Impact Number of views to this page and its redirects. Updated once a month. Views by admins and bots are not counted. Multiple views during the same session are counted as one. 270
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