A grounds worker busy planting flowers

Quercus rubra, pinus nigra. While this may sound like a spell straight out of Harry Potter, they’re actually the Latin names for two of the plants that fill Boston University’s green spaces. The Grounds department is responsible for maintaining BU’s urban landscape. Every spring, they plant over 150,000 plants, trees and bushes including 18 varieties of flowers and over 50 types of trees, shrubs, and grasses. A staff of highly trained workers also maintain the outdoor areas by addressing trash and responding to graffiti and vandalism.


In keeping with BU’s commitment to sustainability, the Grounds department has introduced a number of eco-agricultural initiatives, such as implementing organic lawn treatments. For example, to prevent infestations, they spray non-toxic dormant oil on trees and shrubs. In 2009, BU used 19,200 pounds of organic fertilizer instead of chemical fertilizer for four out of the six fertilizer applications applied each year. (When applying fertilizer and pesticides, the University operates under strict guidelines from the Massachusetts Department of Food and Agriculture. If you have questions about pesticide application, please contact Environmental Health & Safety.)

To reduce water waste, the Grounds department installed rain sensors, which shut off sprinklers during precipitation. Recently installed drip irrigation systems also prevent water waste by dripping directly to the roots of plants. This is more efficient than spraying, which is less targeted and can result in water loss through surface evaporation.

To request landscaping services see Request Services, or, in an emergency, call the Operations & Services Center at 617-353-2105.