Nestled among the embassies and residential neighborhoods of northwest Washington, D.C., the American University Arboretum and Gardens is one of the city's hidden gems. Dedicated in 2004, it encompasses the entire 84-acre campus. American University is a global academic community, home to nearly 11,000 undergraduate, graduate, and law students from around 145 countries and 590 full-time faculty. Diversity is also the hallmark of AU's arboretum, which contains one of the most varied collections of ornamental plantings of any university in the country.
More than 2500 trees—over 130 different species and varieties—provide a shady canopy, beneath which thrives a layered understory of flowering trees, shrubs, ornamental grasses, and seasonal plantings. Beds display bold arrangements and striking combinations of plants, all carefully selected by our landscape architects and tended by staff arborists and horticulturists. Throughout the arboretum, you will find an array of pleasing features and unexpected spaces—sculpture gardens, pocket parks, ponds, and streams—that invite you to pause, for contemplation or conversation.
The original campus plan for AU, which was founded in 1893, was created by Frederick Law Olmsted Sr., America's most noted landscape architect and designer of the U.S. Capitol grounds and New York's Central Park. While his plan for AU underwent changes over the years, we are now revisiting his original design to revive and incorporate elements in our award-winning arboretum, which continues to grow and gain recognition as a community resource and a horticultural showplace.
A self-guided walking tour is available. Free guided tours for individuals and groups may be arranged by reservation.
The arboretum is free and open to the public every day of the year. We invite you to visit and enjoy our campus grounds at your leisure.