The Top 20 Most Beautiful College Gardens and Arboretums

Red bridge

Turns out, you can judge a book by its cover. If the book happens to be a university, and the cover happens to be its arboretum or garden, that is. Colleges tend to be immaculately landscaped, with tremendous quads and hills spreading through their campuses. A good number, too, boast ornate gardens and arboretum. Ever the landscaping nerds, the guys at LawnStarter (who offer lawn mowing service in Austin, Washington D.C., and Orlando) decided to do some research and come up with a list of the top 20 most beautiful college gardens and arboretums. Take a look at these photos, and try not to be inspired! Better yet, make it a goal to visit all of these gardens at some point:

20. University of South Florida Botanical Garden


The University of South Florida Botanical Gardens, part of the Department of Geography, Environment and Planning in the College of Arts and Sciences at USF, is comprised of 16 acres and 3,000 plants, animals and natural habitats.  Located in Tampa Bay, it is truly a remarkable garden.

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19.  University of Chicago Botanical Garden


The University of Chicago Botanical garden serves as a serene oasis in the middle of the vast metropolis of Chicago. It is an ornate and majestic display of horticulture and landscaping and deserves to be recognized for its beauty.

18. Chester M Alter Arboretum at the University of Denver


The Chester M Alter Arboretum, located on University of Denver campus, contains of 2,000 trees, many of them rare to the State of Colorado. Like everything in Colorado, it is green, peaceful, and beautiful.

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17. The Henry Schmieder Arboretum of Delaware Valley College


A calming reserve of natural brilliance, The Henry Schmieder Arboretum of Delaware Valley College, is a horticultural gem resting in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. The arboretum is located on the college’s main campus. As well as being a true aesthetic beauty, the arboretum also provides a living collection of plants that serve as a “green resource” for the students, faculty and surrounding community.

16. Berry College’s Oak Hills Gardens


The Oak Hill Gardens at Berry College coincide with the Martha Berry Museum. Designed around 1930, the gardens represent a Colonial revivalist aesthetic, marked by ornate statues, fountains, ponds, and compartmentalized gardens. They are a beautiful part of a beautiful southern college.

15. University of Wisconsin Arboretum


Madison, a thoroughly gorgeous town, maintains consistency with the UW-Madison Arboretum. All 1,260 of greenery are open to the public daily, free of charge. If you live in Madison and haven’t taken a stroll through the Arboretum, what are you waiting for?

14. Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden


Sitting on 86 acres adjacent to both Claremont College and Claremont Theological School is the beautiful Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden. The garden, which hosts the botany program for Claremont Graduate University, is a remarkable display of over 800,000 preserved plant specimens. It is the largest botanic garden dedicated to California native plants and is gorgeous in a very unique way. As Garden Communications Director April Garbat says, “rather than being very showy, our garden encourages people to take time to notice details like wild strawberries blooming, or hearing a young hawk learn to hunt.”

13.  Colgate University’s Willow Path


Be careful who you kiss on Willow Path. Legend has it, if your first kiss happens under the willows, you’ll end up marrying that person. Colgate University, located in Hamilton, NY, is consistently named one of the country’s most beautiful campuses, and the Willow Path is a big reason why.

12. Connecticut College Arboretum


Connecticut is a state known for its serene ambience and its stunning nature, and Connecticut College’s Arboretum falls in this tradition. Founded in 1931, the arboretum sits on 750 acres and features a vast display of native trees, plants, and grasses.

11. University of Central Florida Arboretum


We believe in the beauty of Orlando as a city, especially because we offer Orlando lawn mowing service, and University of Central Florida’s Arboretum certainly contributes to this. Covering 80 acres on the main campus of UCF, the arboretum contains more than 600 types of plants in their stunning gardens.

10. JC Raulston Arboretum at North Carolina State University


The JC Raulsten Arboretum was named after a master professor of horticulture at NC State. It features a collection of woody plants as well as a garden inspired by Sissinghurst Castle Garden in England.

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9. Georgeson Botanical Garden at University of Alaska-Fairbanks


Pick your favorite summer month and take a trip over to the Georgeson Botanical Garden on the University of Alaska-Fairbanks campus. It is the northernmost public garden in North America, and is dedicated to research in subarctic horticulture.

8. Matthaei Botanical Gardens at University of Michigan


The Matthaei Botanical Gardens at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor hold a massive 300 acres on campus, and they feature botanical gardens, natural areas with trails, and several research-quality habitats. It’s open year round, and the garden is split into several different displays, as well as a 10,000 sq foot conservatory.

7. Hahn Horticulture Garden at Virginia Tech


Virginia is a beautiful state, and we’ve tried to do our part to contribute, offering lawn care services in Loudoun County, VA, Arlington, VA, Woodbridge, VA, Alexandria, VA, and Manassas, VA. Likewise, The Peggy Lee Hahn Horticulture Garden holds true to the image that everything is beautiful in Blacksburg, VA. The garden is the largest public garden in western VA, and it features a wide variety of beautiful plants maintained by over 50 volunteers.

6. The Scott Arboretum of Swarthmore College


The Scott Arboretum, located on Swarthmore College’s campus in Swarthmore, PA, is a stunning convergence of botany, horticulture, and landscaping. It is open year round to the public and offers free informational tours. Any way you do it, a tour here will be super inspiring.

5. The State Botanical Garden of Georgia at UGA


The State Botanical Garden of Georgia lies on the UGA campus in Athens, GA, and is truly a beautiful and serene place. UGA, noted for its amazing landscaping and beautiful campus overall, doesn’t disappoint when it comes to its botanical garden. Free tours are popular, as are weddings and other special events.

4. University of Washington Botanic Gardens

uw botanic gardens

University of Washington’s campus is known for being stunning, being the back drop in a large number of movies. The Botanic Gardens there are no exception. The UWBG Living Plant Collections contain 11,033 specimens, and a walk through this space is absolutely gorgeous.

3. Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania


The University of Pennsylvania is famous for many things, its Morris Arboretum included. It began its life as Compton, the summer home of John and Lydia Morris, brother and sister, and has since blossomed into one of the world’s premier arboretums.  Definitely a must see on your next trip to Philadelphia.

2. University of Utah’s Red Butte Gardens

Red Butte Garden

The Red Butte Gardens of the University of Utah in Salt Lake City are a magical place. Not only are they beautiful, but they also play host to a wide diversity of special events, making this a truly special place to spend time.

1. Duke’s Sarah P. Duke Gardens


We’ve written about the Sarah P. Duke Gardens in Durham, NC before. In fact, they were a determining factor in ranking Duke the #1 best landscaped East Coast College. The Sarah P. Duke Gardens are far and away the most impressive display of horticulture on an American campus. They are beautifully organized and landscaped, the Winner of Horticulture Magazine award for Garden Excellence, and a stunning place to visit – very deserving of our top ranking.

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Alex Birkett

Alex Birkett is marketer and writer. Aside from mowing lawns, he loves snowboarding, eating sushi, and lifting heavy weights. He moved to Austin, TX after graduating from the University of Wisconsin.