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Publication Date


Document Type


Study Type

ENX 301; Environmental Concentration


Environmental Science and Policy


Paul Wetzel


Meadows, Sustainable campus design, Lawns, Landscape, Biodiversity


In the pursuit of sustainable and ecologically conscious campus design, academic institutions such as Smith College are reevaluating the domination of lawns and considering alternative ground covers. This paper explores the nature of meadows, lawns, and other ground cover, and their benefits and drawbacks, especially in academic settings. The paper also draws insights from interviews with five other academic institutions managing meadows, highlighting their experiences, challenges, and successes. Meadows emerge as a compelling and sustainable alternative to traditional lawns, offering heightened biodiversity, reduced resource inputs, and increased resilience. Meadows also present significant educational opportunities within the college campus environment, intersecting with various academic disciplines. Finally, there are challenges in establishing meadows on college campuses, as meadows still demand labor, although it is less than lawns. Particularly the requirement of a specialized skill set for successful growth, separate from turf maintenance skills. Based on these findings, the report recommends that Smith College consider in-house management under the Smith College Botanic Garden (SCBG) for the future development of meadow areas. This approach, in line with SCBG's commitment to education, entails creating a dedicated position to oversee meadows, with a specific focus on education and related concerns such as invasive species control. Looking forward, the report identifies promising opportunities for meadow implementation in specific areas of the campus. Ultimately, this report aims to underscore the potential of meadows as a sustainable and enriching landscape element within Smith College campus.


© Sophia Patt