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Landscape Stewardship


The landscape of Princeton's campus always has been a defining element of its identity and experience. The Landscape Master Plan, a part of the 10-year Campus Plan, collaborates with the Sustainability Plan in envisioning a landscape that will continue to be experientially rich and simultaneously more sustainable, versatile and functional.

Chemistry mollage2
The old parking lot for the Armory (at left) has been replaced by restored woodlands and a nature path south and west of the new Frick Chemistry Laboratory (at right) as part of the Campus Plan and Landscape Master Plan.

Goals & Progress

1. Goal: Apply an integrated landscaping approach that helps to restore local soil quality and health of plantings, emphasizes native and drought-tolerant species, enhances local ecosystems, and minimizes chemical use.


  • Woodlands have been expanded and strengthened with extensive new tree and shrub plantings at Frick Chemistry Laboratory, Jadwin Hall/Princeton Stadium's west side, Streicker Bridge landings, and along Washington Road and lower Elm Drive, completing nearly six acres of the planned 10 acres of woodland reconstruction.
  • Use of synthetic fertilizer has decreased to approximately 2.5 tons per year since 2008 after averaging four tons each year over the last decade (more than a 37 percent reduction — see chart in sidebar).
  • While Princeton has been composting 100 percent of its leaves and landscape trimmings since 2008, the University now is able to report an annual average volume of more than 4,400 cubic yards of "green" waste composted — enough leaves and trimmings to cover 2.7 acres one foot thick.
  • As part of its Campus Plan, the University has adopted an evolving stormwater management plan incorporating strategies to restore the watershed, including stream restoration, rainwater capture, groundwater recharge and others.
  • Since June 2010, 3,000 yards of construction site topsoil — a six-month supply that can cover more than two acres one foot thick — has been set aside for reuse on campus in ongoing landscape projects. Rather than importing off-site soil, this topsoil is amended with on-site sand and organic compost into a high-quality product.
  • Sustainability guidelines related to land use, water and ecosystem quality have been integrated into Princeton's Design Standards (.pdf).

2. Goal: Enhance open spaces, pathways and wayfinding for walkers and bicyclists on campus.


  • Campus walks have been reconstructed and enhanced with new plantings at Shapiro Walk and Goheen Walk.        
  • New plantings, walks and lighting were completed for open spaces around Butler College, Wilson Court and Brown Hall. 

What's Next

Short Term

  • Reforest four acres of woodland as part of the Washington Road stream project.
  • Continue to provide better connections to campus for pedestrians and bicycles by extending sidewalks on Faculty Road, FitzRandolph Road, Western Way and Broadmead Street.
  • Construct a new walkway from the Elm Drive Circle to the Boathouse on Lake Carnegie.
  • Continue to expand tree plantings on the perimeter of the Ellipse.
  • Begin tracking sustainable plant selection and soil-health enhancing procedures.
  • Explore alternative fuels for maintenance equipment and continue to reduce the impact of maintenance operations.
  • Track irrigation water usage.
  • Track the use of fertilizers and pesticides by grounds and building maintenance, athletics and landscape sub-contractors.
  • Test soil amendment techniques for areas on campus where sand-based soils have been introduced to improve water retention.

Long Term

  • Continue to track changes in open space and permeable surfaces.
  • Implement projects recommended in Princeton's campus lighting guidelines (in development), which stresses that outdoor lighting should be consistent with USGBC LEED standards.
  • Continue long-term implementation of walkway and open space enhancements including Blair Walk, Frist South Terrace and Sciences Green/Stadium Walk.
  • Continue long-term implementation of the campus wayfinding program with signs for building identification, pedestrian wayfinding and parking information.
  • Develop Reunions protocol for site use (flooring systems, etc.) to include in the future Green Reunions Guide.

Figure 10: Landscape Master Plan

Landscape Objectives

View the campus areas affected by the Sustainability Plan landscape objectives (.pdf).

Excerpts from the Guiding Principles for Campus IPM, Planting and Maintenance

  • Use native plants whenever possible with plant diversity in mind.
  • Determine the right plant for the right location.
  • Increase perennial plantings in gardens.
  • Investigate and evaluate plants for disease and insect resistance.
  • Create a healthy soil environment for turf and plantings (trees and shrubs).
  • Apply chemicals in a targeted, limited fashion.


Figure 11: Herbicide and Insecticide Use

Herbicide use on campus has decreased from more than 26 gallons in 2004 to just over 8.5 gallons in 2009. In 2008 and 2009, no insecticide was used on campus. [Note: 2006 data is unavailable; figures do not include athletics.] Click to enlarge.



The University composts 100 percent of campus leaves and landscape trimmings. Grounds crews use the nutrient-rich material to amend soil recovered from campus construction projects with on-site sand to make topsoil, which is then redistributed on campus.