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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.

New pathways
The new Boathouse Walk provides a pedestrian/bicycle link between Faculty Road and South Drive (near Icahn Laboratory). Three acres of adjacent woodlands were restored by removing invasive species, adding new topsoil and planting 34 trees.

Goal, Strategies & Progress

Goal: Create a vibrant and sustainable landscape.

Strategy: Enhance green space with new plantings and local soils as needed and restore selected woodlands. 


  • In the past year, more than five acres of woodlands were restored along Washington Road and the Boathouse Walk, and roughly four acres of green space were reconstructed along Shapiro Walk, the Sciences Green and the Ellipse. In total, 215 new trees and 197 new shrubs were planted.
  • All University plantings are selected for their appropriateness in Princeton, N.J.'s, hardiness zone, as defined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Additionally, plantings are informed by soil and watering requirements and proven ability to flourish in this campus environment.  

Strategy: Minimize the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides.


  • Synthetic fertilizer use decreased to approximately 2 tons this past year on the 635 acres of campus managed by the grounds and building maintenance department. This reflects a 20 percent reduction from the 2.5 tons used per year since 2008, and a 50 percent drop from the average of 4 tons used annually over the last decade. 
  • Pesticide use (herbicides, insecticides and fungicides) on campus has decreased from more than 5,000 gallons in 2007 to slightly more than 1,500 gallons in 2010. As part of the University's integrated pest management (IPM) program, a variety of beneficial insects and larvae were released this past year, including approximately 30,000 rove beetles, 228,000 convergent lady beetles, 6,400 green lace-wing larvae, 2,000 spider mites and 220,000 microscopic wasps.
  • A pilot test using compost in place of fertilizer is being carried out in the south courtyard at Whitman College in an effort to increase the organic matter and, in turn, improve water retention and reduce the need for additional soil inputs. 

Strategy: Create compost from campus leaves, landscape trimmings and construction site topsoil when available, and reuse for landscape projects in an effort to enhance and restore local soil quality.


  • Nearly 100 percent of the leaves and landscape trimmings collected on campus are composted. Since 2008, an average annual volume of more than 4,400 cubic yards of "green waste" was composted — enough leaves and trimmings to cover nearly three acres one foot thick.
  • More than 1,500 cubic yards of soil excavated from campus construction sites in the past year was mixed with the University's compost, as well as on-site sand, and turned into a high-quality topsoil for reuse in ongoing landscape projects. 

Strategy: Improve the campus network of bicycle paths and walkways and promote walking and biking as a means of transportation.


  • To encourage walking and biking, nearly a mile of paths and walkways was added to the campus in the past year, contributing to a total of about 55 miles (see sidebar). The new walkways suitable for bikes include those constructed at the Sciences Green, from the Elm Drive Circle to the Boathouse on Lake Carnegie, and on a portion of Faculty Road.
  • Future sidewalk extensions were also approved for Faculty Road, Washington Road, FitzRandolph Road, Western Way and Broadmead Street. 

Strategy: Implement a wayfinding program to direct motorists and pedestrians to their destination by the most efficient means possible. 


  • A bicycle circulation plan is being implemented to better connect the campus to the surrounding streets and roads. The plan includes marking bike routes shared with vehicles through the use of “sharrow” (share arrow) symbols on the pavement, and new dedicated bicycle lanes on a portion of Washington Road.
  • Signs for building identification, pedestrian and vehicular wayfinding, and parking information were designed, and applications for regulatory approvals for the vehicular signs were subsequently filed. Signs are expected to be put in place during the 2012 fiscal year.

What's Next

Short Term

  • Complete restoration of four acres of woodland as part of the Washington Road stream project.
  • Complete restoration of Blair Walk and sidewalk extensions for Faculty Road, Washington Road, FitzRandolph Road, Western Way and Broadmead Street.
  • Carry out a pilot test of porous asphalt on a portion of the Frick Nature Trail.
  • Secure regulatory approvals and execute the manufacture and installation of 38 vehicular signs as part of the wayfinding program.  
  • Continue to pursue the bicycle circulation plan and implement it as approved.
  • 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 athletics and landscape subcontractors.

Long Term

  • Continue pursuing projects as guided by the Landscape Master Plan within the Campus Plan, including implementing long-term walkway and open space enhancements and the campus wayfinding program, and formulating a new list of landscaping projects.
  • Complete prototypes for the remaining sign types and file applications for regulatory approvals as needed as part of wayfinding program.
  • Maximize the on-site top soil reuse program so that all soils stay on campus.
  • Continue to track changes in green space and permeable surfaces.
  • Implement projects recommended in Princeton's campus lighting guidelines (in development), which stresses that outdoor lighting should be consistent with U.S. Green Building Council LEED standards.
  • Develop a Reunions protocol for site use (flooring systems, etc.) to include in the future Green Reunions Guide.

Figure 8: Landscape Master Plan

Landscape Objectives

View the campus areas affected by the Sustainability Plan landscape objectives (.pdf). Sustainability guidelines related to land use, water and ecosystem quality have been integrated into Princeton's Design Standards (.pdf).


Figure 9: Pathway Map

Pathway map

This map (.pdf) shows that nearly a mile of paths and walkways was added to campus in the past year, contributing to a total of about 55 miles.


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 10: Pesticide Use

Pesticide use

The use of pesticides (herbicides, insecticides and fungicides) on campus has decreased from more than 5,000 gallons in 2007 to 1,500 gallons in 2010. (Usage represents diluted volume versus active ingredients; in 2009, usage increased significantly due to treating an outbreak of Dutch elm disease; figures do not include use for athletics facilities.) Click to enlarge.


Sciences Green path

New walkways suitable for bikes include this one constructed at the Sciences Green near the Lewis Library, Jadwin Hall and Frick Chemistry Laboratory. Future sidewalk extensions also are scheduled for Faculty Road, Washington Road, FitzRandolph Road, Western Way and Broadmead Street.