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Guide To Improving College Landscaping

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Guide to Improving College Landscaping

Updating your college campus is more critical than you may think. Beautifully maintained landscaping can play a part in attracting potential students, enhancing current students’ experience and adding functionality. Nature has inherent benefits that support students’ and staffers’ physiological and psychological needs. The college landscape deserves recognition as an opportunity for educational growth, rather than merely an aesthetic bonus.

Green spaces benefit your college, your students and the environment, so why not make the best of them? Add some flower beds, benches, eco-friendly walkways and functional shady areas to create an attractive learning environment people can enjoy and thrive in. Review our school ground landscaping tips to spark ideas and learn more about how to improve your school landscaping!

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The importance of college landscaping

Importance of College Landscaping

Selecting a college is like choosing a second home, and students want to feel a sense of safety, comfort and enjoyment. Even if they aren’t consciously aware of it, their first impression of the college will affect their decision. If you put a lot of care into the landscape, it’s a good sign all aspects of the college are tidy, well-kept and in excellent repair. An attractive, well-tended landscape with functional amenities and safe walkways will show potential students that the college cares about them and their needs.

Curb Appeal

A college needs to attract students, just like any business needs to attract customers. As the first thing they see, the landscape will affect their perception of the entire school. Students know they will be spending a lot of time on campus, so picking a place where they feel comfortable and welcome is a significant factor. Enhancing the landscape with colorful flowers, well-tended lawns and functional amenities enhances the university’s curb appeal and creates a lasting impression. Alumni will reminisce fondly about their time on campus long after they graduate, and residents in the community surrounding the university will be proud of their city’s center for higher learning.

Campus Safety

Meticulous landscaping on your college campus is also crucial for maintaining safety. Uneven pavement or untended greenery might cause tripping, visibility problems and even lead to theft or unwanted visitors. Outdoor areas without enough shade can lead to sunburn or excessive heat. Lighting is especially vital for providing safety. Potential students who are visiting in the evening hours should still see well and feel safe. If they perceive the college as not prioritizing safety, they may choose a different school to attend.

Quality Learning Environment

Spending time in nature reduces feelings and increases general well-being. A quality landscape can improve student performance. One study found students’ capacity to focus increased by almost 13% if there was an attractive, green view outside their window. In other words, a beautiful, maintained landscape will improve your students’ experience and make them more productive, creating a better reputation for your university. After all, colleges are educational institutions, so the entire campus, indoors and out, should contribute to the learning environment.


A well-designed landscape enables your university to contribute to eco-friendly initiatives, which are priorities for younger generations. A landscape designed for sustainability has a smaller carbon footprint, provides a healthier environment and benefits the economy. As people increasingly realize that time is of the essence in fighting climate change, more universities are going green to create clean communities. Today’s college students expect corporations, businesses and institutes of higher learning to be responsible and play a role in fostering sustainability.

Ways to Improve Your College Landscaping

If you want to increase curb appeal, attract new students, boost student performance and enhance safety, a focus on school landscaping can help you accomplish all these goals. Here are some ways to get started.

Start With a Plan

To ensure your landscaping upgrade is successful, begin with a design plan. Take your time, do your research and consult with professionals for maximum benefits to your university. Consider which aspects of your current landscape would benefit most from an update. For example, you may want to devote more attention to high-traffic areas or focal points, such as the school’s front gate. Consider short-term and long-term landscaping goals.

Give students the opportunity to participate in the effort

Promote Student Involvement

A primary reason to prioritize improving your college landscape is to give students an opportunity to participate in the effort. Consider creating and supporting environmentally focused clubs. Encourage students to plan campus-wide events, such as planting and maintaining a community garden. Students can even be part of long-term planning efforts for campus sustainability and help promote positive engagement among their peers.

Create Year-Round Appeal

Students, staffers and potential students will be on campus all year, which means you must create a landscaping plan that incorporates all four seasons.

  • Smart planting choices: Consider planting flowers and trees that bloom at different times of year to create color and beauty no matter what season it is. Plant daffodils and tulips for spring, and roses and daisies for summer. Maple trees look majestic when their leaves turn a brilliant red in the fall. Use plants that are beautiful during multiple seasons, such as oakleaf hydrangea and beautyberry. You’ll also need to think about upkeep. Some flowers may require annual replanting or need more maintenance than your crew can provide.
  • Color: Your college can use the bright colors from plants to highlight entrances or other focal points. If there’s something your school wants to promote, make it more prominent with beautiful landscaping. Consider using plants with the school’s colors around popular photo spots. Memorable, picturesque areas that are unique to your college promote brand awareness.

Add Lots of Greenery

Greenery doesn’t merely increase curb appeal. The vegetation will naturally help create cleaner and fresher air through photosynthesis. Shrubs, bushes and other plants can even help reduce noise levels by absorbing sound. Be environmentally conscious and use plenty of native plants that won’t need pesticides. Greenery also contributes to student and staff well-being and a higher overall quality of life.

Consider Safety when designing

Consider Safety

Emergency blue light phones are an excellent safety measure for colleges. However, there are other ways to address safety concerns in landscaping. Design every part of your landscape with safety in mind.

  • Maintain the hardscape: The hardscape includes elements such as walkways, stairs, retaining walls and fencing. Keep walkways and stairs maintained and well-lit for fewer tripping hazards. If the campus has any water drainage issues, use retaining walls and other countermeasures to avoid creating treacherous, slick falling hazards or standing water that breeds mosquitos.
  • Trim trees and bushes: Cut back trees and bushes so they don’t impair visibility or crowd walkways. Visibility is especially vital around parking lots and roads. Students may need to cross traffic to get to class, so ensure drivers can see them. Cutting back overgrown vegetation will even help reduce pests such as ticks.
  • Install perimeter lines: Hedges and fences can create boundaries to direct foot traffic and keep out unwanted visitors or pests.
  • Use lighting: Many students with jobs or night classes will have to walk on campus after dark. Increase the illumination around walkways, entrances and spaces where students gather. Also, provide lighting in and around parking garages and lots. Besides helping your students and staff find their way more easily, lighting also helps deter crime.Improve safety and sustainability

Improve Walkways

If your campus is the heart of your community, walkways and paths are its arteries. They can also make a significant difference in safety and sustainability. Pouring simple concrete sidewalks may be easy, but the result is not very eco-friendly or appealing. The campus might also lack efficient walkways, resulting in students carving paths for themselves. Doing so can be a safety issue, while simultaneously discouraging walking and biking.

  • Desire paths: Students often need to rush between classes, always looking for the fastest route. Sometimes, this means cutting through a lawn and ignoring the sidewalk, thus creating what urban planners call “desire paths.” Consider adding a legitimate walkway in places where students wear a path, as these are likely helpful shortcuts.
  • Permeable pavers: Permeable pavement is a porous surface that catches rain and runoff while allowing it to slowly drain into the soil. It’s one of the best eco-friendly options for paths. Permeable pavers are more attractive than asphalt or concrete sidewalks, and installing them can also benefit the environment by slowing water drainage and reducing pollutants.
  • Encourage walking/biking: Complete networks of appealing paths encourage students to walk or bike around campus. Quality pathways with attractive landscaping make walking more enjoyable, which helps promote physical activity while also potentially decreasing the number of cars needed on campus. You may need to expand some paths to accommodate pedestrians and cyclists using the same paved area.

Add Outdoor Amenities

Add Outdoor Amenities

Outdoor amenities add functionality and improve comfort. Add seating near walkways and outside buildings to give students and visitors a place to sit down, eat or relax. Strategically space trash bins to encourage everyone to keep the space clean without littering. Install convenient bike racks for students. Consider adding extra amenities such as charging and hand sanitizer stations.

  • Seating: Even the busiest students need breaks occasionally, which is why your landscape should include plenty of seating. Benches along walkways and tables outside classroom buildings will go a long way to provide comfort for your students and faculty. Maintaining social distancing includes discouraging students from crowding in hallways waiting for their class to start. Outdoor gathering spaces should feature durable and weather-resistant seating. Add picnic tables for people to eat or study outside.
  • Trash receptacles: Campus cleanliness is an essential aspect of appearance. Make it easy for everyone to do their part in keeping the campus clean by placing trash and recycling bins outside buildings and along paths. Consider selecting customizable trash receptacles with styles or colors that better suit the landscape.
  • Other amenities: Bike racks and bike loops will encourage students to bike to class, reducing vehicle traffic and the resulting pollution. Some colleges even implement bike-share programs where students don’t even need to own bikes. Since students rely on their laptops for class, place solar-powered charging stations around campus. Put hand sanitizer stations in or near classrooms to help prevent the transmission of infections, including COVID-19.

Create Rain Gardens

Rain gardens are an excellent addition to any campus, filtering water, slowing runoff and removing pollutants. For example, you could use them to direct water away from parking areas. Rain gardens also provide an educational opportunity for ecology and biology classes.

Design Different Spaces

The campus needs various spaces to support different interactions. For example, spacious green areas are excellent for promoting large gatherings, hosting campus fairs and allowing students a place to throw a Frisbee or ball around. You could also create smaller, quieter areas that support small groups and people who desire a more intimate setting.

consider hiring staff to keep the landscaping clean

Keep It Clean and Maintained

Have a plan and budget in place for staff to keep the landscape clean and well-kept. All your efforts to create a considerate landscaping plan will come up short if the grounds fall into disarray.

Consider hiring staff to pick up trash, empty waste receptacles, mow the grass, trim hedges, weed gardens and report any landscape damage. Outdoor amenities, like benches, may also need occasional upkeep, such as pressure washing.

Add shape structures to improve college landscaping


Install Shade Structures

Another excellent way to improve your college landscape is to add shade structures. These increase curb appeal, add functionality and promote safety. Shade structures will differentiate your campus by enhancing aesthetics and significantly improving comfort for those gathering outdoors. Use them to create outdoor classrooms and other meeting areas. Students and faculty will appreciate taking their studies outdoors to enjoy the fresh air. Installing shade structures can also help prepare the university for continuing social distancing practices.

  • Outdoor classrooms: If larger classes need socially distanced learning opportunities, create outdoor learning spaces with shade structures and seating. Additionally, many professors may prefer teaching outdoors when the weather is pleasant. But without shade, sun glare may cause students to have trouble seeing their device screens, while the hot sun also makes them uncomfortable.
  • Relax in nature: Many students enjoy studying al fresco or relaxing outside. Providing shade structures allows students to enjoy the stress-relieving benefits of being outdoors with protection from harmful UV rays, excessive heat and sun glare.
  • Multi-purpose spaces: Transform large outdoor spaces into comfortable multi-purpose areas for hosting large gatherings and campus activities. Shade structures can even feature integrated lighting and speakers for musical or theatrical performances. Or, enhance the experience further by adding solar shade structures, so students can charge devices and be shaded, increasing their comfort.

Benefits of improving college landscaping

Benefits of Improving College Landscaping

On top of increasing aesthetics, improving college landscaping provides many advantages to the college, its students, staff and even the environment. Upgrading the landscape will give visitors a memorable first impression, significantly improving public perception of the college. Access to nature also enhances student and faculty satisfaction. A lush, attractive landscape is no longer a bonus — it’s a must to create an environment that facilitates learning and promotes the well-being of everyone on campus.

Attract More Students

A landscape with beautiful curb appeal and well-designed outdoor spaces is sure to attract more students to your college. During campus tours, prospective students will look for amenities like cleanliness and safety. Many of them will base their college decision solely on appearance, so let your landscaping speak for itself in building your campus’ reputation.

Improve Student Performance

Landscaping also plays a part in student performance. The condition of the college’s landscape affects how students learn, focus and feel. When surrounded by a thoughtfully designed landscape, students feel less stress, focus better and perform at a higher level. Alongside its aesthetic benefits, landscaping can provide an educational advantage by enriching students’ cognitive function.

Create Health and Social Benefits

Attractive landscapes and green outdoor spaces help promote physical activity, such as walking or playing sports. The benefits of exercise are virtually endless, and will help improve the quality of life for people spending time on campus. Better air quality can also alleviate some health ailments, such as asthma and stress-related conditions. Gardens and natural habitats can even serve as collaborative research projects for students.

Positively Impact the Environment

All that beautiful greenery you add will help create cleaner, fresher air by removing carbon and chemicals and adding oxygen. Rain gardens help remove pollutants and clean the water. That attractive walkway made from eco-friendly permeable pavers helps strike a natural hydrologic balance. Adding more paths encourages students to walk and bike rather than drive. All these elements help show your university prioritizes sustainability and has worked hard to shrink your carbon footprint.

Add Functionality

Landscaping provides the opportunity of turning unused outdoor space into valuable areas that stimulate learning and socializing. Instead of an empty expanse of grass, you could create a stimulating outdoor classroom or a cozy study spot for students. Turn that boring, long path into a relaxing walk through nature where people can stop and sit down on a bench. The opportunities for improvement are endless.


Contact USA SHADE Before Your Next Campus Upgrade

USA SHADE can help you create stunning, shaded outdoor spaces that encourage learning, socializing and enjoying nature. We use industry-leading processes and experienced professionals to provide the quality shade solution your campus needs. Our team can assist you with the entire project, from concept to construction.

Not sure how to plan a commercial shade structure idea? Our architectural specialist division can help you plan a functional and aesthetically pleasing space for your college or university. Browse our products or completed projects for ideas and request a quote today!

Contact USA SHADE Before Your Next Campus Upgrade

USA SHADE can help you create stunning, shaded outdoor spaces that encourage learning, socializing and enjoying nature. We use industry-leading processes and experienced professionals to provide the quality shade solution your campus needs. Our team can assist you with the entire project, from concept to construction.

Not sure how to plan a commercial shade structure idea? Our architectural specialist division can help you plan a functional and aesthetically pleasing space for your college or university. Browse our products or completed projects for ideas and request a quote today!