Gardens and Landscape FAQ

Mason Facilities, Housing and Residence Life, Athletics, and Recreation along with their respective contractors manage Mason’s grounds. University Sustainability oversees a few sites on campus organically such as the Innovation Food Forest and the Potomac Heights Organic Vegetable Garden. These two gardens are managed by our staff and students volunteers. Look for our Facebook pages to get more involved.

These sites were created by Mason Grounds to encourage biodiversity and pollinators on campus. These sites are not usually mowed and are naturally maintained.

We have five existing gardens on the Fairfax campus and one at the Science and Technology campus that need constant care so please consider volunteering or adding to our existing areas. Existing gardens include the Innovation Food Forest, the Potomac Heights Organic Vegetable Garden, the Presidents Park Greenhouse, the Green Studio, and the Child Development Center Garden. Therefore, if you are passionate about gardening please get involved to help us maintain our current gardens by volunteering. Find the volunteer schedules and information by visiting our Sign-Ups Portal website.

These gardens constantly need new plantings, including perennial pollinator landscaping. If you would like to propose a planting project, please reach out to Doni Nolan, the Greenhouse & Gardens Program Manager for guidance and approval. She would love to hear from you and assist with your project.

1. There are two composting areas on campus managed by University Sustainability. You are encouraged to contribute your biodegradable waste to the outdoor composts on the Fairfax campus located at the Potomac Heights Vegetable Garden and the Innovation Food Forest. There is also an indoor worm compost system in the Presidents Park Greenhouse for hands-on learning. Consider volunteering at the gardens or greenhouse to learn more and help maintain the composts.

2. Anyone can contribute to the outdoor compost piles on campus and here’s how!

Composting Requirements

  • No super oily foods, or animal products, like meat, dairy, shellfish, etc. (a little milk is OK, for instance leftover mac n cheese); but too much of these could make it stinky.
  • Good for composting: lots of paper products, and cardboard (ripped up preferably), plus coffee grounds, tea bags, plant debris, veggie scraps, fruit, not-so-oily leftovers, pasta, rice, bread, etc.
  • If possible please cover the fresh waste with other materials in the pile, so it can become dark and moist to allow quicker decomposition and to reduce odor.

Compost at the Potomac Heights Organic Vegetable Garden

  • Site location: the garden is located behind the Potomac Heights residence hall
  • Compost location: toward the back of garden, near the wall of the building
  • Use the compost pile on the left within the wooden walls

Compost at the Innovation Food Forest

  • Site location: alongside Innovation Hall and near the south plaza entrance to the Johnson Center
  • Compost location: follow gravel walkway uphill toward the Johnson Center until you see an opening to the woods
  • Use pile of fresh compost and not the finished (already looks like soil) pile
  • Or use on of our compost tumblers
    • Move the sliding door on the tumbler
    • Drop in your waste
    • Slide the door back on
    • Use your hands to press down on the drum and rotate it once or multiple times

Yes, Mason saves and transplants as many trees and plants from construction sites as funding and conditions permit. Moving trees and plants often causes significant stress on them so calculations are made about the plants survivability and their moving costs.

To ensure continued maintenance and operations of the artwork, you will need approval from campus stakeholders. Please create a document that proposes your idea and includes as much detail as possible such as height, width, depth, timeline, funding in place, any possible risks associated with it, and maintenance plan during the semester as well as breaks. Please submit that information to Depending on the artwork and the approvals needed, the process may take several months to a year for placement.

There is also a a garden created specifically for eco-art, called the Green Studio. As of 2022, the space is managed by Mason Exhibitions, who hopes to incorporate more student art into the space to showcase sustainability on campus. Please contact them to propose your idea.