Greening the Grounds

Flower Planting Guy

Quercus rubra, Pinus nigra- While these may sound like spells from a Harry Potter novel, 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 maintains outdoor areas by keeping the campus litter-free and responding to acts of tagging and vandalism.

In accordance with BU’s commitment to sustainability, the Grounds department has introduced a number of eco-agricultural initiatives such as implementing organic lawn treatments. In 2009, BU used 19,200 pounds of organic fertilizer instead of chemical fertilizer. The University uses organic fertilizer for four out of the six treatments applied each year. Signs such as the one in the photograph below are placed throughout campus in order to educate the BU community about this initiative.


Organic Law Sign[1]

Other sustainable grounds-keeping techniques include spraying only non-toxic, dormant oil on trees and shrubs to prevent pest infestation, and implementing water use reduction strategies. The Grounds department installed rain sensors which shut off sprinklers during precipitation, and drip irrigation systems which prevent excess water use by dripping directly to the roots of plants. Spraying is less efficient because it is less targeted and can result in water loss through surface evaporation.

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 the Office of Environmental Health & Safety.

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

Yard Waste Composting

Boston University began composting yard waste in 2008. In 2010 BU composted 100% or 214 tons of yard waste from the Charles River Campus. Waste from tree removal (typically after major storm events) is being explored.