wildflowers in Penn Park

Sustainable Landscapes

Sustainable landscape practices at Penn

Building on the environmental legacy at Penn, the Climate Action and Sustainability Plan 3.0 goals, and the Sustainable SITES Initiative at Shoemaker Green, Penn continues to enhance its sustainable landscape practices across the 300-acre campus arboretum. These practices help to reduce the amount of chemical fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides on campus as well as encourage more ecological maintenance initiatives. Sustainable landscapes are part of the ecology of the environment, re-generative, and contribute to healthy plant and human communities. They sequester carbon, clean the air and water, restore habitats, and create value through significant economic, social and, environmental benefits. In an effort to encourage more pollinators and reduce long-term maintenance costs, more perennials and native species are used in all planting projects. The use of costly, high maintenance annual flowers is limited to specific display areas or in pots.  Penn is also reducing extraneous turf areas except in ceremonial or recreational areas and where possible supplanted by meadows, grasses and groundcover plantings. Compost tea, an all-natural amendment that improves soil and vegetation health and discourages weed growth and pest infestation, is applied to campus turf. Brewed on campus, compost tea is a mixture Penn’s compost and specific micro-nutrients and is applied regularly throughout the growing season. Campus leaves are also composted for direct application to planting areas on campus. 

Penn’s Plant Health Care Program, a collaborative effort with FRES Urban Park, Morris Arboretum, and the Office of the University Architect identifies strategies to manage both health and plant pest issues throughout out the campus. Through seasonal observations, organic management (releasing of ladybug and praying mantis colonies), targeted applications for new pest research (including the Spotted Lantern Fly), and programs and communication to the University Community, we have moved into a more efficient and environmentally stable program.  

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