Elon is known for having a beautiful campus, but most people do not know it is a Botanical Garden and maintained in an environmentally sensitive manner.
In January of 2005, President Lambert signed a resolution declaring the campus a Botanical Garden. This distinction means the campus provides not only a pleasing aesthetic experience but also serves as an educational tool for the campus and surrounding community. Many of the plants, flowers, and trees on Elon’s campus have been labeled to promote environmental stewardship, education, and research. This effort is continually expanding with more gardens and labels added every year. Plants are carefully selected for every project and garden to ensure that they perform well in their individual environment and require the minimum amount of water, nutrients, and care possible.
Appropriate plant selection minimizes fertilizer use but, when necessary, it is applied in a scientific and careful manner. Fertilizer applications on athletic fields are based primarily upon nutrient need determined from tissue analysis tests. On the remainder of campus properties, fertilizer is only applied in the high use and high visibility areas. The fertilizer used is custom blended to meet the minimal requirements of campus turf and contains a slow release form of nitrogen, which virtually eliminates excess nutrients from being released.
Elon’s automatic irrigation system on the primary campus is completely supplied with reclaimed stormwater. Elon began irrigating with reclaimed stormwater in the 1980s. The majority of the stormwater from Elon’s campus is directed into the ponds on campus, of which there are three. The ponds are then connected to the irrigation system. Initially, this system only served a portion of the campus’s irrigation needs. It gradually expanded over the years; and in FY 08, all of the primary campus’ automatic irrigation systems became connected to the ponds. This system is beneficial to the local watershed in that it prevents sediment and other materials from entering nearby natural waterways.
Besides being supplied with reclaimed stormwater, the irrigation system is also very efficient. It has a central control system, flow meters, and is connected to a weather station on campus. All of these features help minimize waste by irrigating only when needed.
In fall 2008, Elon began collecting and composting its own yard waste in a facility located on the edge of campus. In 2011-12, approximately 90 tons of compost were produced from yard waste collected. The facility closes the loop on the University’s yard waste as the final compost product is used in campus landscaping to improve soil quality and reduce water and fertilizer requirements.