The main Williams College campus encompasses 450 acres, which stretches east from the traffic circle around Field Park to approximately Southworth Street and in the south from just past Williamson and Farley-Lamb Fields north to Ephs Pond and Cole Field.  The landscaped areas includes manicured lawns, athletic fields, pockets of micro forests, meadows, and a few areas with concentrated garden beds.

Overall, the college manages its grounds and fields with an environmentally sensitive approach to pest management, careful selection of plant species, and selective watering.  A dedicated Facilities Grounds team maintains the campus with targeted assistance from local landscaping companies.

Below, you will find information about how the college manages its landscaping, the various landscaping features that you’ll find across campus, descriptions of the gardens, a map of key landscaping features, information about the campus tree survey and a public facing platform, and information about a campus landscape study.


A view towards Chapin Hall over landscaped areas at the top of Library Quad.


  • Williams manages its landscaping using an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach. "Integrated pest management (IPM) uses a combination of biological, cultural, physical/mechanical and chemical management tools to solve pest problems while minimizing risks to people and the environment" (AASHE STARS)  It combines four different practices to control any given pest: cultural, mechanical, biological, and chemical. Cultural practices are preventative measures to create inhospitable environments for pests. Mechanical controls physically remove the pests. Biological control is releasing beneficial insects that prey on harmful pests. Chemical controls include pesticides (herbicide, insecticide, and fungicide) and natural compounds (insecticidal soaps, compost tea, vinegar and citric acid). IPM stresses only applying chemicals after all other methods have been tried and places emphasis on using the least toxic methods.

    Where to find special landscaping areas

  • Campus Gardens

    Click to enlarge. Graphic by Jennifer Lee '22.

    In addition to landscaped areas, the college has a number of gardens where folks can get their hands dirty:

    Parsons Garden

    Located next to Parsons House not far from Mission Park and the '66 Envi Center, Parsons Garden has blackberries, annual vegetables, asparagus, and some well-built compost bins.

    Gardens at the 1966 Environmental Center

    Gardens abound at the '66 Environmental Center – perennial beds in front with asparagus, rhubarb, and strawberries; annual garden beds and a berry patch in the back, herb beds near the kitchen, and a small fruit tree orchard in front. The produce is loved by all, but it is also is a requirement of the building's sustainability certification, Living Building Challenge, that 35% of the site must be in food production.

    Williams College Community Garden

    Launched in the spring of 2021, the college's Community Garden is intended for interested experienced or new staff, faculty, students, and community members to maintain and grow food or flowers in individual plots - and to create community around gardening.  For more information and to apply for a raised bed, visit the Community Garden website.  To learn the backstory of the community garden, read this blogpost from 2019.

    Garden Management

    The Williams Sustainable Growers student organization manages Parsons Garden and the beds on the north side of the '66 Environmental Center during the school year.  The herb beds and perennial beds on the south side (towards Sawyer Library) as well as the fruit tree orchard, low-bush blueberries, and high bush berry patch are maintained by ZC student landscaping and garden interns during the school year. They are all maintained by ZC garden interns during the summer.  Watch a video featuring ZC garden interns in 2016 here.

  • Williams has turf for different purposes and as a result they receive different treatments.

    Game fields where varsity and junior varsity competitions are held are expected to meet NCAA standards for play and as a result require the most maintenance. pH is monitored, as is phosphorus and potassium to determine the need for fertilization. During the playing season, grass on these fields is maintained at an inch and a half per NCAA standards, which generally equates to mowing the fields twice per week. During the off-season, the height of the grass is raised to two inches which is accomplished by mowing approximately once per week. These areas are watered with permanent in-ground irrigation systems. Irrigation is not set on a permanent timer, and watering only occurs when soil samples indicate low water levels, or if fields show visual signs of moisture stress. Synthetic fertilizers are applied several times during the summer and fall. Game fields are treated with herbicides - generally only as needed after weeds have sprouted, but several vulnerable fields are treated with pre-emergent herbicides. They are also treated with a preventative insecticide for grub control, and with several fungicides during the summer depending on temperature.

    Practice fields are where varsity and junior varsity practices are held, and where rugby practices and games are held. These fields are given much less maintenance than game fields, much closer to that of common grounds. They are mowed approximately once per week, keeping them at a height around two inches, and are not watered. Synthetic fertilizers are applied several times during the summer and fall. No measures beyond natural prevention and physical suppression are used to manage weeds and insects.


Two students work in the gardens on a summer day in the midst of a lush, if overgrown meadow, fruit trees, and strawberry beds. The '66 Envi Center is in the background.



    A tree surrounded by grass with stands in the back.
    A newly planted hornbeam in the Weston Athletic Complex. (2023)

    The Tree Campus Higher Education program honors colleges and universities for effective campus forest management and engaging staff and students in conservation goals. Williams College achieved the distinction by meeting Tree Campus Higher Education’s five standards, including maintaining a tree advisory committee, a campus tree-care plan, dedicated annual expenditures for its campus tree program, an Arbor Day observance, and student service-learning project. Currently, there are 411 campuses across the United States with this recognition. Williams College is the 8th college/university in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to be recognized as a Tree Campus Higher Education. Williams College is committed to preserving, conserving, and expanding its campus community forest.

  • Image of Campus Map with Trees (plus link to the public facing TreeKeeper platform)
    Click here for the public facing TreeKeeper platform

    In September and October 2022, Williams College worked with Davey Resource Group to inventory its trees and develop a management plan.  The inventory included 2,799 trees, 90% of the inventoried trees were rated in fair or good condition. Over 130 different species were identified during the inventory, with more than 60 different genera represented.  The analysis and management plan focuses on quantifying the benefits provided by the inventoried trees and addressing their maintenance needs.

    The TreeKeeper platform catalogs trees across campus and identifies tree site benefits as they relate to greenhouse gases, energy, water, and air quality.  The public facing platform can be accessed here or by clicking on the map.  The report can be found here.

  • In 2018, Williams hired Reed Hilderbrand to conduct a campus landscape study in order to, as the report puts it, "describe the attributes of the Williams landscape and to provide criteria for evaluating change."  This report was finalized in January 2020.  Two excerpts from the beginning of that report serve as a good introduction for that report.

    Campus Landscape map"Throughout much of Williams’ history, practical approaches to building on a landscape of rolling hills have shaped a pattern of open space, building, circulation, and vegetation that fits with the larger landforms and prevailing viewsheds. More recently, many factors, such as larger building footprints, increased building density, tree loss, and parking provisions have fragmented the campus, blurring the clarity of the landform and planting. This study finds ways to reassert rolling landforms, prioritize views, increase pedestrian connectivity, and foster community in ways that recognizes diversity and the increased programmatic requirements of inclusion, flexibility, and sustainability." (p. 4)

    "Williams has asked, how do we understand our own landscape? What opportunities are here, on our grounds, for continuing to pursue knowledge and community well-being? How can we avoid wasting resources and aggravating the disconnection between people and the ecosystems that surround them? To answer these questions, we have undertaken a Landscape Study that explores and defines Williams’ landscape — past and present — and provides a framework for realizing and organizing change." (p. 5)

    Click here to read the campus landscape study, which was led by Scott Henderson, project manager in Planning Design and Construction and finalized in January 2020.  For more information about the work of Planning Design and Construction, visit their website.

A student walks between Frosh Quad and Chapin Hall under the branches of large trees on either side.
Photo credit: Davey Resource Group