Greening the Grounds

The 10-year Campus Plan of 2008 and resulting Landscape Master Plan anticipated significant campus growth but with a strong commitment to environmental responsibility. Both plans share the vision of a campus landscape growing more sustainable, versatile, and functional over time.

Guided by the Landscape Master Plan, the University follows a number of sustainable principles to manage campus development responsibly.


All University plantings are selected for their appropriateness in Princeton, New Jersey's hardiness zone, as defined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Hardiness zones are the standards by which gardeners and growers can determine which plants are most likely to thrive in a certain location. Additionally, the University chooses plantings by considering soil and watering requirements, as well as its proven ability to flourish in this campus environment.  

staff applying fertilizerAn employee from Grounds and Building Maintenance applying natural fertilizer.


Whenever possible, Grounds staff use natural fertilizers on the University's 635 acres of campus, such as tree tea and mulch. However, weather conditions sometimes require the use of synthetic fertilizers.


Annual pesticide use (herbicides, insecticides and fungicides) on campus has decreased by approximately 54% since 2007.

When possible, the University uses natural methods to control weeds, insects and fungi. An example of this is the University's integrated pest management program: periodically the University releases a variety of beneficial insects and larvae. 


staff raking mulchAn employee from Grounds and Building Maintenance applying mulch produced on campus.

Nearly 100 percent of the leaves and landscape trimmings collected on campus are composted. Since 2008, an average annual volume of approximately 5,230 cubic yards of "green waste" were composted — enough leaves and trimmings to create a one foot thick cover for nearly three acres.


Construction site topsoil is continuously 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.

Open Space and Restoration

frick rain gardenThe old parking lot for the Armory has been replaced by woodland plantings south and west of the new Frick Chemistry Building as part of the Campus Plan. Existing woodlands south and west of the Frick Chemistry Building were strengthened by removing invasive species and planting new shrubs and trees.

The University has implemented innovative site design techniques that are noteworthy for enhancing the quality and capacity of the regional watershed. Strategies include converting mowed areas adjacent to wooded areas to woodland buffers that absorb stormwater loads and help protect ecologically sensitive habitats from invasive species. These buffer areas do not require irrigation or maintenance once established. In recent years, the University has also increased the use of zero-turn mowers to reduce mowing time, adjusted mowing heights to reduce frequency of mowing, increased use of mulching mowers and shifted toward grass species that require less maintenance.

Read more about the landscape initiatives implemented and maintained by the University’s Facilities Department.