Landscape & Grounds


Unique landscape features emblematic of Stanford University are recognized worldwide. Palm Drive, the grassy foothills, oak groves, the redwood trees, 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 1890s, as well as Stanford’s Landscape Design Guidelines first published in 1989, encourage climate responsive designs, native plant materials and water conservation. In 2013, the Arbor Day Foundation named Stanford University a 2013 Tree Campus USA school based on its landscape and conservation principles.

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 Garden, the Educational Farm, organic gardens outside many of Stanford's dining halls, 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, the Campus Drive botanical parkway, and the Waterwise Demonstration Garden on Raimundo Way within Faculty Staff Housing.

A total of 61 percent of Stanford's 8,180 acres has been preserved as undeveloped oak woodland. Some of the notable preserved areas on Stanford's campus include Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve, the Arboretum, and small oak groves spread throughout the main campus.

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:

[ + ] Expand all

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.


2013 Tree Campus USA recognition, Arbor Day Foundation (2013)

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)