Image of Ellen Zagory leading a tour to a large group in a scenic location of the Arboretum.


About Us

In July 2011, all of UC Davis' land-based operational units: the Arboretum, Grounds and Landscape Services and the Putah Creek Riparian Reserve merged to create the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden.

Now, the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden spans the campus’s 5300-plus acres and includes the historic Arboretum – a 100-plus acre campus and regional amenity comprised of demonstration gardens and scientific collections as well as the Putah Creek Riparian Reserve – a rare stream and grassland ecosystem managed for teaching, research, wildlife and habitat protection.

Our purpose is to inspire human potential to help people and environments thrive.

We steward our campus grounds as a resource for encouraging our students and community members to become environmental leaders, for the public to learn about climate change and the importance of regionally appropriate landscaping, for visitors to informally explore the academic richness of UC Davis, and so much more!

By utilizing unique skills that combine large-scale, sustainable landscape maintenance practices, comprehensive horticultural knowledge and over 80 years of public engagement experience, the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden team is transforming its campus grounds into an outdoor museum and living laboratory in support of the university’s extensive academic expertise.

What makes us different...

  • We highlight the academic richness of UC Davis through our landscapes.
  • Since 2006, we have co-created innovative gardens and programs in partnership with academic departments, students, and community members through the UC Davis GATEways Project (Gardens, Arts, and The Environment). Here we invite the public to learn about the diverse academic work of UC Davis by visiting our GATEway gardens that focus on disciplines such as geology, animal science, Native American studies, hummingbird health and more.
  • We collaborate with environmental agencies, faculty and scientists locally and internationally on research and teaching.
  • As a living museum, we maintain careful records on plants in the Arboretum's collection. Researchers in a variety of fields use these plant collections to study natural pest control, evolutionary relationships, plant disease and more. Other researchers study wildlife, water quality, the history of the site, or the ways people use the gardens.
  • We demonstrate and share best practices in sustainable horticulture with the public.
  • The Arboretum is home to over 20 different gardens featuring plants from California and countries with similar summer-dry climates across the globe where visitors can learn about best practices in sustainable horticulture. In addition, several times each year, the Friends of the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden invite the public to our one-acre Arboretum Teaching Nursery to shop our seasonal plant sale fundraisers for an incredible selection of the same attractive, low-water, easy-care, regionally-appropriate plants you find in our gardens.
  • We engage our community to co-create in the design, creation and care of our gardens.
  • Hundreds of community volunteers and nearly 100 student interns are involved in every aspect of the creation, care and maintenance of our Arboretum and Public Garden. We offer long and short-term volunteer opportunities, community members can participate in the design and long-range development of this community resource, and students in our innovative Learning by Leading™program can participate in the design and creation of a variety of campus landscape conversion and natural area restoration projects, create and lead environmental educational events and more.
  • We provide students and community members with the resources and experience necessary to tackle environmental leadership issues of worldwide significance.
  • As world-leading environmental science university, we manage our outdoor spaces as a reflection of our expertise and as a resource for research, teaching and public engagement. Through our Learning by Leading™ program, we invite students and community members to lead efforts to create a healthier environment and a more sustainable world.
  • We plan for the future and advise local and campus leaders on best practices to address climate change.
  • We are committed to environmentally responsible landscape management. Our team is working closely with campus planning leadership to develop a 70-year plan to allow us to transition the landscapes of UC Davis to become climate-ready. This Living Landscape Adaptation Plan will help our professional staff adapt campus landscapes to the likely impacts of climate change, dwindling water supplies, aging plant populations and plant health threats.

Land Acknowledgement

It is important to acknowledge the land on which the UC Davis campus is located. For thousands of years, this land has been the home of Patwin people. Today, there are three federally recognized Patwin tribes: Cachil DeHe Band of Wintun Indians of the Colusa Indian Community, Kletsel Dehe Wintun Nation, and Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation.The Patwin people have remained committed to the stewardship of this land over many centuries. It has been cherished and protected, as elders have instructed the young through generations.

This campus is Patwin land and remains an important part of Patwin heritage and identity. To honor this legacy and ensure people remain aware of the land they are on, UC Davis has designed several installations in consultation with Patwin Elder Bill Wright and his family, in addition to faculty and students from Native American Studies, staff of American Indian Descent (SAID), as well as representatives from Student Affairs, the office of Finance, Operations and Administration and the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden. The Native American Contemplative Garden is part of this effort. The Native American Contemplative Garden is part of this effort.