The Midwest is often typecast as a barren wasteland of cornfields and Holsteins, but that doesn’t tell you the whole story. In reality, most college students in the Midwest get to experience rolling hills, pristine lakes, and well-groomed, green campuses. We recently ranked the top ten best landscaped colleges in the South and the East Coast. Because we’re such lawn nerds, we decided to do the same for the Midwest. The process has been exhaustive: we’ve scanned hundreds of photos, interviewed students, alumni, and faculty, and scanned message boards to bring you this list. The criteria we used for ranking includes the amount of green space on campus, the prevalence and uniqueness of landscape installations, and the attention given to lawns and landscapes on campus. Without further ado, here are the Top 10 Midwest college lawns.
10. University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh
Oshkosh is a small city in the central part of Wisconsin. It is surrounded by beautiful cities like Appleton, it’s only a short jaunt from Door County, one of the Midwest’s premier vacation destinations. The campus, though small, is decorated ornately, and the lawns are kept in top-notch conditions. Its green initiatives and forest maintenance has won the college a couple awards, including being named a Tree Campus USA. Especially during Autumn, UW-Oshkosh shows its true beauty, with a myriad of colored leaves falling on the numerous quads and lawns. This is why when the weather is warm and there’s no snow on the ground (approximately 1 1/2 months per year), you’ll see all the students hanging out and studying in lawns and quads outdoors.
9. Washington University in St. Louis
As far as green space goes, it’s tough to beat Washington University in St. Louis. This is a school that is constantly topping lists of “Best Schools,” so it makes sense that they’d take the time to make their campus look good, too.
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8. Northwestern University
As one of our nation’s most revered schools, Northwestern has much to admire. From their top-notch academics to their solid sports programs, quality exudes from every aspect of this campus. Part of the campus’s allure is derived from its beautiful architecture and pristine landscaping.
7. Carleton College
With enrollment barely over 2,000 students, this is a small campus. Located in the small, historic town of Northfield, Minnesota, Carleton College is a well kept secret. It consistently ranks as a top academic school as well as having one of the most beautiful campuses. With lawns like pictured above, it’s no wonder why.
6. Luther College
Most know Luther College for its renowned music department. We know it for its amazing lawns. The college is nestled in the tiny Midwest town of Decorah, Iowa, and it is likely surrounded by cornfields on all of its sides. However, in and around the college, you’ll only find fields of pristine green lawns.
5. Miami University (Ohio)
We sometimes hear the debate as to whether or not Ohio is a Midwestern State (it is, according to Google). Well, if it allows us to include Miami of Ohio on our rankings, then we vote that it is. This school was one of our most frequently nominated schools. Students, alumni, and faculty obviously take pride in their beautiful campus, and it’s easy to see why.
4. University of Notre Dame
It’s likely you associate Notre Dame with a few things: good academics, a historically dominant football program, and Cathedral-inspired architecture. All of these things are true, but you’re forgetting a few things: the foliage, the gardens, and the lawns. It’s hard to find more green space than at Notre Dame, and their campus is much deserving of a top ranking for college landscaping.
3. University of Wisconsin – Madison
Two words: Bascom Hill. Pictured above, this beautiful stretch of lawn (though laborious to traverse in the winter months) is a social and academic staple of the university as soon as warm weather hits. Further west, if you explore lake shore path, you’ll discover some of the greenest and most vibrant aesthetics in the Midwest. Wisconsin is a school of top academics, dominant sports, and solid landscaping.
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2. Indiana University
Indiana University, a leading public research University with a world renowned business program, lies in the quaint city of Bloomington. The state of Indiana is certainly not known for striking landscapes, but this school breaks that stereotype with an unbelievably beautiful campus.
1. Kenyon College
It should really surprised no one that Kenyon College tops our list of the best landscaped colleges in the Midwest. It constantly breaks the top rankings in ‘most beautiful campus’ lists. Kenyon’s campus features Gothic architecture and large, long stretches of lush, green grass. It’s buried in what’s basically a deciduous forest in Gambier, Ohio, making it the Midwest’s best kept and most beautiful secret.
Think we missed your school? Contact us and let us know, and we’ll be happy to reevaluate.
Though LawnStarter does not currently operate in the Midwest, we do offer high quality lawn service in Austin, TX. In addition, we offer lawn mowing in Northern Virginia, Washington DC, and the Orlando Area.