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There are varying definitions but sustainable landscaping should include an attractive environment that is in balance with the local climate and requires minimal resource inputs, such as fertilizer, pesticides and water. Sustainable landscaping begins with an appropriate design that includes functional, cost efficient, visually pleasing, environmentally friendly and maintainable areas.

Native Landscaping

BSU currently has three native plant areas. One is a buffer zone by the lake, which helps with soil erosion and run-off from nearby parking lots and buildings. Another is by the library and the upper union. This bed has many native plant species. The third is actually a native Monarch butterfly garden which is between the lower union and Sattgast. We are currently working on making more native plant gardens around campus. Native plants are beneficial to an area because they require seldom watering, mulching, or continuous mowing. The cost is generally less over time in terms of maintenance and buying new plants every growing season. These landscapes do provide potential habitat and refuges for wildlife, especially birds. Native grasses protect soil while their root systems spread and grow deep for excellent erosion control.


The Sustainability Office spent the summer of 2013 planting a variety of trees on campus! 25 trees were planted including white pine, red pine, burr oak, sugar maple, crab apple, apple, plum, and cherry trees.

Campus Garden

Starting in Summer of 2011, the very first campus garden was up and running. A group of students got together and decided that BSU needed a campus garden so students can have the opportunity to grow their own food and have it be organic. There is a total of 28 plots, with the option of planting extra seeds on the outside of the fence for the public to use for free. Lots of manual labor was put into it by students, faculty and staff. The Bemidji State's Campus Garden is located across the campus library on Birch Lane and 16th.

Low-Mow Pilot Project

In the fall of 2011, the Sustainability Office, with the help of Students for the Environment and People in the Environment, started the Low-Mow Pilot Project. Between the upper union and Memorial/Sanford, students laid down wet newspaper to kill the grass and let it decompose back into the ground, then 4-5 inches of compost over that. Our goal of the project is to get more native, low-mow grasses on campus. We want to reduce the amount of lawn mowing, watering and chemical use on the campus grounds. In the Spring of 2012, the Sustainability Office planted two different varieties of  low mow grasses. The site was selected by our grounds crew because it was difficult to mow and had little visibility.

The low mow grass seed was purchased from a nursery in Minnesota. One is drought resistant, warm season mixture of Blue Grama, and Buffalo Grass. These grasses are slow to green up in the spring, but will stay green in the hot, dry summer months. The other type is a fescue mixture. Fescues are cool season grasses, but also tolerate dry soil. We had many problems with weeds coming out and competing with the grass. In retrospect, we should not have used a local farmer's compost mix with out first heating the soil to kill existing weed seeds. If this project gathers support of BSU faculty, staff and students, we hope to begin a plan to replace traditional turf with low mow grass across campus as part of the Sustainable Landscape Master Plan.

"Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent."
~ Calvin Coolidge