The Arboretum has seen remarkable changes in land use over time. Forests, savannas, prairies and wetlands once supported Native American cultures. Extensive agriculture came next. Today the Arboretum proper lies within an urban landscape with an additional 500+ acres of ecological communities, references for restoration, located throughout the state.
Since the Arboretum’s earliest days, staff, UW students and faculty, volunteers and community members have worked to restore prairies and savannas, plant trees and horticultural collections, conserve wetlands and foster wildlife habitat. Today, we also study ecological systems as we care for them.
Ecological restoration is always on-going, especially in an urban environment which alters natural processes. When you visit the Arboretum, you will see land management practices in action. We encourage you to learn how we care for the land because our tested techniques can be used at your home and wider community.
We monitor and remove invasive species that reduce biodiversity in native plant communities. Using effective and well-timed methods leads to better ecological restoration results and land health.
We often remove woody plants to restore plant communities that require full sun. We plant and seed native plants to restore land. For safety reasons, we remove hazard trees.
We use prescribed fire to manage some vegetation types. Fire can help control woody vegetation and cool season weeds, as well as renew and stimulate prairie and savanna communities. We have extensive training, an experienced crew, full safety equipment and permits required to carry out each burn.
We manage stormwater from the surrounding city landscape in several ways. Rain gardens and restored areas infiltrate stormwater. Large stormwater inputs are handled by engineered ponds surrounded by native plantings.
At our stormwater management research facility, we research plantings and practices that minimize soil loss, increase infiltration and nutrient removal as well as sustain plant and animal diversity.
Caring for Arboretum gardens includes planting, weeding, pruning, mulching, and monitoring for disease, pests and insects.
We welcome your questions about land stewardship.