Some of the most treasured spaces on university campuses across the US are outdoor spaces. That’s why campus landscaping is such an important part of a school’s identity.
Students tend to remember walking through pathways, reading in a grassy field, or studying at an open-air table. Campus landscaping could arguably even influence a student to choose one school over another. In addition, it can set the standards for an institution, promoting a focus on eco-friendly and sustainable practices.
“I like to think that the landscape continues to be one of the most defining aspects of an institution’s identity and has profound impacts on the quality of daily life for students, faculty and staff,” Andrew Gutterman, a landscape architect with ample experience working on campus landscapes, told Sasaki.com.
7 Tips for Better Campus Landscaping
1. Add Plenty of Greenery
According to research conducted at the University of Michigan, when students are around engaging landscapes, they tend to perform better and enjoy better mental health along with improved scholastic performance. In addition, vegetation absorbs carbon from the air, which means campus air is cleaner and fresher. Other benefits include noise reduction, and more opportunity for students to engage with physical activities.
From large green patches of grass to pathways lined with planters, there are ample opportunities to make college campuses greener. Just make sure to keep longevity of landscaping in mind. First and foremost, don’t plant things that’ll require too much maintenance. For instance, stick with native plants that’ll thrive in your region without much assistance.
2. Bike Friendly Pathways
Many college students around the US are heavily reliant on their bikes to get them around town. Many students don’t bring cars to school with them, or they find it far more convenient to skip the drive to school and hop on their bike instead. Not to mention, this cuts out the need for costly parking passes. Campus landscaping should be conducive of cyclists, offering bike paths that are easy to access to get all around campus. In addition, bike rakes are an important element to add near all building entrances.
3. Safety After Dark – Landscape Lighting
Lighting is another important element of college campus landscaping, especially since students regularly frequent campus after dark. Many classes are held well after 5pm. Line all pathways with lighting fixtures, and keep in mind that they don’t have to be all the same. Mixing lamp posts with tree ring lights and in-ground lighting helps create a well-lit atmosphere with plenty of dimension.
4. Create Collaborative Outdoor Group Spaces
Group collaboration is an important part of college, as well as the workforce thereafter. Creating plenty of spaces for students to get together and work on projects, study for exams, and socialize is key. Add outdoor seating areas near the library, coffee shops, and other areas of campus. Make sure spaces are comfortable, inviting and filled with touches from the natural environment. For instance, adding trees to the space will help provide shade while making students more likely to hang out in the area.
5. Add Comfortable Benches with Seating for Groups and Individuals
Not only does this give students a great place to collaborate, but in addition, it offers an ideal spot to chill out in nature. This is incredibly important according to researchers at Stanford University, who found that time spent out in nature around campus reduced stress and negative thoughts, while helping students feel better.
6. Regular Maintenance is Important
Even the best landscaping plan can fall short if maintenance is not taken into account. Maintaining landscapes, such as pruning shrubs and plants, will prevent overgrowth and obstructed vision. It keeps the school looking nice, as well as safer. Make sure to include a maintenance plan in your initial landscaping plan, ensuring there is enough room in the budget to keep up with the elements you add to the landscape.
Many college campuses employ students to help keep up with landscape maintenance. This is a great way to get more affordable labor while giving students the opportunity to work, either for money or towards earning credits at school.
7. Keep Sustainability in Mind
Sustainability is crucial for the future of our planet. Plus, the way in which a college campus is landscaped says a lot about the mindset of the university, thus influencing students and how they act in the future. Add plenty of recycling bins, use recycled materials wherever possible, and opt for long lasting fixtures and landscaping elements to reduce personal waste.
Working with TerraCast Products is a great way to strive towards sustainability. Many of our products are made from recycled materials and can be recycled when their life cycle is through. Plus, they are made right here in the USA using sustainable practices.