Landscape & Grounds

Unique landscape features emblematic of Stanford University are recognized worldwide. Palm Drive, the grassy foothills, oak groves, the redwood tree, and wildflowers all come together to symbolize The Farm.

Principles now heralded as sustainable in the 21st century were fundamental to the Stanford campus since its inception over 100 years ago. Basic concepts introduced by Frederick Law Olmsted, landscape architect and the university's planner in the 1890’s, as well as Stanford’s Landscape Design Guidelines first published in 1989, encourage climate responsive designs, native plant materials and water conservation.

From large gathering space to intimate retreats, developed outdoor areas create a mosaic of formal and informal elements including cultivated gardens, plazas, usable lawns, tree lined alleys, drought tolerant native landscapes, oak groves, wildflowers and grasslands. The result is a dynamic and flexible environment that is essential to Stanford’s rich and unique landscape character. Today, the university functions as a large arboretum or park with gardens that support both its occupants and its educational mission. These spaces include the Community Farm, the Chef’s Garden at Schwab, the fruit and edible gardens at the Main Quad and Crothers, the rose gardens at Toyon and Terman, the Camellia Garden at the Main Quad, the oak groves along Serra Mall, the Arizona Garden and vernal pools in the Arboretum, the California native gardens at the Alumni Center and Keck, and the Campus Drive botanical parkway.

Goals & Results

It is Stanford’s goal today to continue on the path that its predecessors envisioned and use new technologies and understanding to expand Stanford’s sustainable landscape and grounds practices. Examples of current accomplishments and activities in key landscape and grounds areas include the following:

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Vegetation Management

Integrated Pest Management


Landscape Design

Research and Development

More Information

To learn more about the philosophy and treatment of the landscape at Stanford University, please visit the University Architect / Campus Planning and Design and the Building and Grounds Maintenance web sites, which include detailed specifications and guidelines for vegetation, irrigation, landscape design, site furnishings, site lighting, water features and other topics related to landscape and grounds.


Bicycle Friendly Community Platinum Level, League of American Bicyclists (2011)

Excellence in Planning for a District or Campus Component, Merit Award, Society of Campus Planners (2010)

Preservation Design Award for the Stanford Arizona Garden, California Preservation Foundation (2008)

Community Partnership Award for Oak Tree Planting for the Second Hundred Years, California State Senate, (2006)

Merit Award for the Department of Athletics, Physical Education and Recreation Plan, American Society of Landscape Architects (1999)

Merit Award for the Palm Drive Restoration, American Society of Landscape Architects (1995)