Our Practices

Biostream- Stormwater Management

Community Gardening


Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)

Green Roofs

Hardy Containers

Invasive Species Policy

LEED Certified Science Center

Lawn Alternatives

Lawn Care

Native Plants

Organic Lawn Care

Peat-Free Potting Soil

Plant Conservation

Gold LEED Certification for the Wister Center


Download our Green Design brochure to learn the details and to take your own tour of the sustainable features at the Scott Arboretum:


This was one of the first projects attempted to remediate storm water runoff from a section of the upper campus. The Biostream is an innovative way that Scott has lightened the load of storm water on Crum Creek.

Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)

This is a process used for many of our publications. Key publications like our quarterly newsletter, the Hybrid, Year in Review, and our Schedule of Events are printed following the FSC guidelines by an FSC certified printer. This means that these publications use papers that are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council to ensure the wood grown and used in the process is harvested and made with high environmental standards. The entire process is audited within a tightly controlled system from the forest through to the printing company. This guarantees the materials used in the production of these publications came from sustainable forests, recycled sources, or both. You can track the source of the timber used for the publication of each FSC piece from the forest to the factory and to the printer by entering the FSC certification number at

Learn how we used FSC in the construction of the Wister Center.



Community Garden/ Growing your own food

In the US, agriculture is responsible for 7% of the annual greenhouse gas emissions. Did you know that the average tomato travels 1,500 miles to get to your salad plate? You can reduce your carbon footprint, reconnect with the land, and delight in the pleasure of eating a vine-ripened tomato by gardening for food production in your own yard. Don’t have any garden space? Join the Scott Arboretum Community Garden and be amazed at what you and your fellow community gardeners can grow on your own plot of land.



Composting is a great way to reduce the amount of garbage that gets sent to landfills. It’s also a wonderful way to turn your kitchen waste into nutrient-rich organic matter that will enrich your soil and subsequently your garden plants. Read all about how to create your own compost by clicking here.


Green Roofs

The Scott Arboretum has several green roofs. The Alice Paul Residence Hall has a 5,100-sq. ft. “extensive” vegetative roof above the third floor. A smaller green roof is on top of a storage building at Papazian Hall. We offer special tours of the Alice Paul and Kemp Hall green roofs. Visitors will get to see the roofs first-hand and learn the benefits of a green roof. You can read all about the installation process here.

Click on the topics below to learn more about the installation of our third green roof on Kemp Hall. Also watch our Building a Green Roof video series about the installation process.

Green Roof Installation Begins

A Conversation with the Designer

Building the Many Layers of the Green Roof

Planting a 100 lbs of Sedum

Plants of a Semi-intensive Green Roof

In the Spring of 2011, we installed our fourth green roof. Read how this technique differed from previous installations. More techniques were explored with install of our fifth roof in 2013.


Invasive Species Control

The Scott Arboretum has adopted a proactive approach to treating invasive or potentially invasive plants in our collections. Consistent with Federal Executive Order #13112 we apply the following to evaluate plants for acquisition and deaccessioning:

Learn about our efforts to use goats to remove invasive species from the Crum Woods. Read about efforts to plant a riparian forest buffer to contol invasive knotweed.

LEED certified Science Center

The college received LEED certification for the Science Center completed in 2005. Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, LEED, is a voluntary set of national standards for developing high-performance, sustainable buildings. The $74 million state-of-the-art Science Center building was an effort to integrate the sciences and the Swarthmore campus with the natural setting of the Crum Woods. The landscape plan addressed both the long-standing horticultural and environmental goals of the Scott Arboretum and the goals of the academic departments housed within the Science Center.


The Science Center landscape accommodates opportunities for teaching within the landscape. Improved pedestrian access to the woods from the building was implemented through the Glade Garden, planted with native plants. The Pollinator Garden was designed to attract pollinating insects and birds, which are of particular interest to the Biology Department housed in Martin Hall, connected as part of the Science Center.

Porous pavement used throughout the walkways surrounding the Science Center allows rain water to penetrate and re-supply groundwater. Stormwater is also captured and channeled into “infiltration beds” composed of 2-foot deep porous planting mix allowing for free drainage and infiltration into the local water table. The porous mix is 60% lightweight aggregate soil, 25% loam topsoil, and 15% organic matter. Sporobolus heterolepis, prairie dropseed, thrives within the special growing conditions of the infiltration bed, and distinguishes itself from surrounding turf areas because it is a native grass, withstanding the tough conditions of the Mid-Western prairies.


Lawn Alternatives

The Scott Arboretum is trialing lawn alternatives. Large lawns are beautiful, but the cost is high. Fuel for power mowers, toxic emissions, fertilizers and pesticides, and water consumption are all part of the cost of lawn maintenance. Reducing the size of the lawn can benefit the environment while saving time, energy, and expense. The Scott Arboretum is trialing lawn alternatives that are ideal for the edges of woodlands, underneath high trees, or in areas where weekly mowed, high-trafficked turf is not necessary. These alternatives include Carex platyphylla and Carex appalachica on the north side of Beardsley Hall, and Carex pensylvanica planted on the north side of Benjamin West House.

Read more:
Re-envisioning our American Tradition: the Turfgrass Lawn
Perspectives on Lawn Alternatives
An Introduction into Caricology - The Study of Sedges


Lawn care

Read about caring for your lawn sustainably with a hand-powered reel mower that requires no fuel to operate! Learn about our electric mower as well.


Native Plants

Native plants attract native pollinators, are often low maintenance when planted in the proper setting, and harmonize with the natural setting of a garden. While the Scott Arboretum is not exclusively a native plant garden, there are some garden spaces that feature native plants, such as the Glade Garden, the Pollinator Garden, and the Nason Garden.

Organic Lawn Care

Learn more about the Scott Arboretum and Swarthmore College's endeavors to establish an organic lawn on Mertz Lawn.

Organic Lawn Care
Organic Lawn Consultation with Eric T. Fleisher
Remediating Compaction on our Organic Lawn
Announcing the Organic Lawn Brochure and Blossoming Research Efforts
Listening to the Organic Lawn
Organic Lawn: One Year Later

Peat-free Potting Soil

It takes at least 10,000 years for peat to form and it is harvested almost exclusively for the horticulture industry. Peat as a soil or garden additive brings very little nutrition to the soil and contributes to the drying out of the soil. Garden compost and mushroom soil are among the best and most economical materials to enrich the soil. The Scott Arboretum uses Organic Mechanics Potting Soil, a potting soil that is peat-free and sustainably harvested. Click here to learn more.


Hardy Containers

The Scott Arboretum has been experimenting with hardy containers that are left in place year-round and do not require annual replanting. These containers are more environmentally sustainable and conserve natural resources. Once hardy containers become established their watering needs are relatively modest, thus allowing for less irrigation. They also do not require annual replanting which reduces the demands on other resources. Read about our containers and what we have growing in them.


Plant Conservation


Estimates of the of biodiversity on our planet range from 270,000 to 422,000 different flowering plant species. As numerous as this seems, a more important fact is that 100,000 plant species are threatened worldwide. In fact, more than 200 plant species in the United States have become extinct as a result of human activities. Along with the loss of plant life comes the extinction of animals, habitats, and loss of usable water. Some scientists believe that 1/5 to 1/4 of the earth’s flowering plants may become extinct within a few decades.


So what is the Scott Arboretum doing to protect the future of our plants? Read about some of the plants in our collection that are on the Center for Plant Conservation’s list of endangered plants. Our participation in the NAPCC program is a direct way that we participate in the preservation of germplasm. Our holly, magnolia, and oak collections are a part of this program.


The Scott Arboretum’s volunteers are also dedicated to the conservation and preservation of the Crum Woods. Each winter a group of volunteers spend their Thursday mornings removing invasive species from the woods, cleaning up debris, rebuilding water bars, and planting native tree and shrub species.

Click here 1to read about what Dr. Peter H. Raven, described by Time magazine as a "Hero for the Planet,” has to say about plant conservation and the importance of sustainability upon receiving the Scott Medal and Award2.

Learn more about Plant Conservation Day.