In addition to tending the 675-acre main campus, UNC Grounds Department now actively manages the 947-acre Carolina North property. Grounds also services and maintains all stormwater infrastructure on campus. Campus landscapes have migrated away from annual plantings to perennials and from turf grass to native grasses, sturdy groundcovers, and shrubs. These sustainable landscape improvements reduce maintenance, require less fertilizer and pesticide use, and lessen fossil fuel consumption. Non-turf landscapes also hold more stormwater and cut down on nitrogen and phosphorous runoff. This results in less nutrient loading in local watersheds.

The Grounds Department is further reducing its environmental impact by converting its equipment from two-stroke to four-stroke engines. The new equipment is quieter and produces significantly less air pollution. All landscape waste generated on campus is mulched or composted.

Historic Landscapes

A study of Carolina’s historic landscape, and a plan to maintain and preserve that landscape for future generations, was conducted through the support of a Getty Foundation Campus Heritage grant. Leading landscape architects and Carolina staff assessed five landmark spaces in the historic core of campus: McCorkle Place, Polk Place, the Bell Tower Formal Garden, Kenan Woods, and Forest Theatre. Their findings and recommendations are published in “The Dignity of Restraint: A Study to Preserve and Enhance the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Majestic Tree Landscape.”

Another outcome of this study is “The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Noble Grove: A Walking Tour of Campus Trees.” This spiral-bound book is divided into four walking tours, each originating near the Old Well in the center of campus. The tours cover McCorkle Place, Polk Place, Spencer, and Davis Library. Side excursions are suggested to Battle Park, Forest Theater, Kenan Woods, and the Coker Arboretum.


“The Dignity of Restraint: A Study to Preserve and Enhance the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Majestic Tree Landscape”


Grounds Department

Tree Protection

Trees have always been an integral part of campus. In the early 1800s, “the Grove” was shorthand for the campus. Trees unite campus buildings of diverse styles into a unified whole.

The UNC Grounds Department continually monitors tree health, replants as necessary, and cares for the enduring campus ecosystem. During unprecedented recent expansion, tree protection plans were created for each capital project and all campus trees were entered into a geographic information system (GIS) database. A study of historic and heritage trees and landscapes, conducted in 2005, inventoried current assets and provided species selection and landscape planting guidance for new capital projects. This study provided a policy to provide inch-for-inch replacement of trees removed from the landscape.

A tree protection program was launched at Carolina in 1999. The program requires that all of the construction documents for each capital project include a tree protection plan indicating which trees can go and which must stay. Protection strategies include fencing, geotextile and mulch soil covers, and logging mats.

For the development of Carolina North, a Tree Replacement Fund was launched in 2007. Trees identified for removal as part of a construction project as replaced, inch-for-inch, elsewhere on campus.  A tree protection plan for each project maintains, and actively protects, as many trees as possible.  Since 2008, contributions to the historic tree replacement fund have totaled $250,000, paying for almost 200 trees and shrubs in 2010-2011.



Grounds Department

Erosion and Sediment Control

The University’s Environment, Health, and Safety Department developed a soil erosion and sediment control plan in 2002. The plan must be incorporated into all construction documents before a project can be sent out for bid. Components of the plan include the following provisions:

  • Identifying areas with a high susceptibility to erosion,
  • Limiting disturbance on steep slopes,
  • Restricting clearance to only those areas necessary for construction,
  • Covering any cleared areas that will be unworked for seven days,
  • Planting cleared areas that will not be worked for 30 days.

Contractors must designate an on-site crew member who is responsible for soil erosion and sediment control, including the maintenance of sediment basins and other control strategies.


Grounds Design & Construction Guidelines


Integrated Pest Management

UNC uses integrated pest management (IPM) to reduce the need for pesticides and other pest control methods on campus. Techniques utilized include planting pest-resistant species and timing the irrigation and fertilizing schedule so as not to promote the growth of fungi and other pests.

In contracts, UNC defines IPM as “a process for achieving long-term, environmentally sound pest suppression and prevention through the use of a wide variety of technological and management practices.” Control strategies in an IPM program include:

  • Proper identification of pests and an understanding of pest biology and behavior.
  • Structural and procedural modifications to reduce food, water, harborage, and access used by pests.
  • Non-pesticide technologies such as trapping and monitoring devices.
  • Pesticide compounds, formulations, and application methods that present a reduced potential hazard to humans and the environment.
  • Coordination among all facilities management programs that have a bearing on the pest control effort.”