Purdue’s West Lafayette campus features low-maintenance and environmentally-friendly outdoor spaces due to sustainable planting techniques, including the use of a variety of native plants.

Landscaping the Sustainable Campus

Purdue University has partnered with the Indiana Wildlife Federation to develop a Sustainable Landscape Plan.

The Sustainable Landscape Plan is a comprehensive look at the University’s forward-thinking approach to landscape design, maintenance, and operations. Purdue documented 20 goals across five program categories and achieved Level 3 “Conservation Champion” certification on Earth Day in April 2012. We have remained in the Conservation Champion category since.

The five program categories addressed in the plan are:

  1. Sustainable lawn maintenance and landscaping
  2. Reduction of use of pesticides and herbicides
  3. Eradication of invasive species
  4. Selection of native plant species
  5. Conservation, retention, and recycling of water

Trees on Campus

The Purdue Arboretum was established in 2008 with the goal to recreate the West Lafayette campus as a living laboratory in order to enhance learning, discovery, and its value as a resource for University engagement. The Grounds department works closely with the Purdue Arboretum on various projects across campus.

Native Plantings

In addition to efficient resource management of traditional landscaping, the Grounds department has planted native trees, grasses and shrubs throughout campus. Native plantings can tolerate local environmental conditions better, encourage greater bio-diversity, and are more self-sustaining – thus requiring fewer artificial nutrients.

The native plantings on campus include varieties such as native juniper, Pennsylvania sedge, prairie grass, and purple and yellow coneflowers. These varieties have also been used on select bioswales around the University, which help to divert stormwater runoff from the sewage system and allow excess water to irrigate the land.

Prominent Native Plantings on Purdue's Campus

Pfendler Hall and Agricultural Communication Building

The native plantings at Pfendler Hall, which houses the Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, and the Agricultural Administration building serve both teaching demonstration and sustainability purposes. 

Matthew Kern Memorial Garden

Located between Russell Street and the Birck Boilermaker Golf Complex, this was the University’s first native planting. In addition to planting native varieties, bluebird houses were also built to promote greater biodiversity.

Neil Armstrong Hall of Engineering

The native plantings at the Neil Armstrong Hall of Engineering include prairie dropseed, with a bed of fern and black gum trees. The plantings are meant to invoke the metaphor of student growth and accomplishment at Purdue. When visitors enter the building, they will be greeted by the lower prairie grass, and they will see taller trees when they exit on the other side of the building.

First Street Towers

The first and largest residential native landscape on the campus was implemented at First Street Towers. The facility landscaping centers around native plants such as little bluestem grass, prairie dropseed, deschampsia and a mix of some traditional varieties. The landscape integrates flowering perennials such as butterfly weed, goldenrod, and windflower with the native grasses.

Visit the Sustainability Master Plan Grounds webpage to learn more about our goals related to campus grounds. 

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