What draws students and their parents toward choosing the right college and university that meets all of their needs? Maybe it’s academics and majors: They want to know that their specific goals will be met attending that university. Certainly, cost factors in. They don’t want to pay too much and still receive a quality education. The school’s reputation probably matters, too. Is the school respectable and well-known for the education it provides in the student’s chosen field of study?

Yes, all of these things factor into the decision for choosing a college or university.

But one thing rises above these factors in meeting students’ needs: landscaping for colleges. Once students sort out other factors, what resonates most is that feeling they get stepping onto a campus. They seek a welcoming and engaging environment.


In fact, more than 200,000 students answering an EAB Enrollment Services survey chose the campus environment as their No. 1 reason for making their decision to go to a specific college or university.

This ranked higher than academic reputation and even cost.

How’s your college campus looking? Think landscaping at colleges doesn’t matter? Here are four reasons how college landscaping impacts students and drives student enrollment.

4 Reasons Student Enrollment Grows When You Focus on Great Landscaping for Colleges

Many people often judge a college or university by its appearance; they can’t help it. When a learning environment is becoming a second home for these students, they want to feel those same feelings a home provides: safety, security, and comfort.

A college professor even spent a few years studying the appearances of North American college and university campuses and how they link to student enrollment and retention. He found that students decide if one of their prospective colleges will remain on their list after only 10 minutes of being on campus. In fact, 62 percent of students base their college decision on the appearance of buildings and landscapes on campus.

landscaping around college campus sign

This puts quite a bit of pressure on facilities and operations VPs, who have to worry about interior and exterior building and grounds maintenance. Can students spend just 10 minutes on the campus you maintain and make a positive enrollment decision?

There are reasons the right landscaping for colleges drives enrollment and why it should remain a priority on operations to-do lists.

1. Enhance University Character and Personality

Some of the most well-known college and university campuses in the U.S. have signature outdoor characteristics that bring people to their grounds and enrolling in their courses.

For the University of Washington in Seattle, it’s the 30 cherry trees in the central common area that at full bloom in spring are a big draw for students. The University of Maryland in College Park has a floral M made up of yellow pansies for most of the year and then switches to striking red begonias in the summer. Talk about a great backdrop for photos and instant brand recognition for that college.

commercial landscaping crew at college landscape

These spots become iconic and memorable for past and present students. They instantly give a campus a special allure that is attractive to students. If they are torn between minor differences among colleges, these recognizable outdoor areas could make or break their decisions to attend one over the other.

2. Create Outdoor Gathering Places on Campus

The 5-acre lawn in the center of the University of Virginia campus has been referred to as the “heart and soul” of the college, drawing people for simple picnics, as well as major events.

Green spaces at colleges and universities tend to provide popular hangouts throughout students’ days. They could be studying, reading books, eating lunch, kicking a ball around, or even just hanging out.

Think about these gathering areas like outdoor living rooms. As students go from class to class, there’s always some downtime in between. Having a place to unwind or finish some tasks before the next class gives students that extra something special to round out their busy school days.

Check Out The Ultimate Guide to College & University Landscaping

3. Boost College Safety and Security

Nothing makes a person feel more welcome and cozy than feeling safe and secure.

Since students are on campus from early morning hours until late at night, feeling comfortable moving about campus all day long is so important to their decision to attend a particular college or university.

Commercial landscaping tasks that boost this feeling include:

  • Pruning trees and shrubs, particularly around walkways, to ensure clear pathways.
  • Ensuring hardscapes are maintained to limit trips and falls.
  • Keeping irrigation and drainage maintained to avoid slick areas.
  • Monitoring for standing water to ensure mosquitoes and other pests don’t build up.
  • Keeping overgrown vegetation down to reduce ticks.

These tasks limit liability for colleges and universities, in addition to making students feel more at home and protected.

4. Make Students Feel Like Their Investment is Worthy

Students (and their parents) have already looked at college and university tuition before they step foot on the campus.

So if they show up to a campus and see rundown buildings and overgrown trees and shrubs, their impression of that school may instantly deteriorate. In addition, the cost may go from seeming acceptable to unreasonable. If a college or university doesn’t have the time or budget to invest in its own property, what does that say about its programs for students?

college campus sign and surrounding landscaping

A college or university that spends the time tending to basic grounds maintenance and trash patrol, as well as regular cleanup and special additions like seasonal color with flowers, can make a huge difference in the minds of current and potential enrollees. It says that campus is going to deliver the value you expect from a place of higher education.

We Can Help You Create a More Welcoming Ohio College Campus

From exams to financial aid woes to expectations and career decisions, college is stressful. Today’s college students have high expectations, and being able to unwind in relaxing outdoor spaces is one of them. And research proves that tidy and trendy outdoor spaces can even make or break enrollment numbers each year.

All you have to do is create an environment students love. While a lot of these tips seem simple to address, they can all be daunting when you have so many other things to worry about. We get it. You have a lot of facilities and operations tasks on your to-do list, and landscaping can fall to the bottom of the list.

Turfscape can help you by offering a complete, proactive campus maintenance program that includes proper lawn care, mowing/maintenance, trash patrol, spring and fall cleaning and regular pruning, as well as ideas for seasonal color boosts and enhancements to make your campus stand out. We are like an extended part of your team. We take the landscaping off of your plate and provide that extra pair of eyes and ears on your property to help you stay ahead of any issues and keep your campus in tiptop shape within your budget.

Think your Northeastern or Southeastern Ohio college or university campus needs an outdoor makeover to help increase enrollment? Longing for a campus that makes students choose your school over others? We’d love to help.

Call us at 330.405.7979 or request a proposal to get started today.

Together, we’ll prepare a customized plan so you can have that campus that draws students in.

Ultimate Guide to College & University Landscaping

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