Composting garden wasteHorticulture displays are the number one reason people visit the Garden, providing excellent opportunities to demonstrate sustainable gardening strategies. These strategies include:

  • Composting (and reusing on site) nearly 100 percent of the Garden's plant waste
  • Washing and reusing plastic and clay pots
  • Utilizing some propane-powered mowers
  • Using only manure-based fertilizers for turf care, alternatives to spraying in the rose gardens, and only composted and organic-based liquid fertilizers for outdoor plantings
  • Implementing a biological pest control program in the greenhouses
  • Installing rain sensors on irrigation systems
  • Installing LED grow lights in the propagation greenhouse, saving 60 percent of the energy required by traditional grow lights
  • Promoting and using native and adapted plants in horticulture displays
  • Providing sustainable gardening educational displays and resources for homeowners and the nursery industry
  • Although no longer available, the Missouri Botanical Garden operated the most extensive public garden recycling program in the nation: the Plastic Pot Recycling program, which collected a record 138,000 pounds of horticultural waste in 2010. Over the years the program saved over 980,000 pounds of plastic garden pots, cell packs and trays from landfills.


Energy Efficiency:
  • In 1996, the Missouri Botanical Garden's Board of Trustees established an energy policy resolution confirming energy efficiency in its facilities to be a major capital and operating priority.
  • The Garden has invested in energy efficiency through improvement of lighting technology, upgrade of heating and cooling systems and ongoing maintenance of existing systems.
  • From 2000 to 2005, the Garden increased building area by 11 percent while reducing annual energy usage by 22 percent as a result of implementing energy efficiency measures.
Renewable Energy:
  • In 2009, solar panels were installed in the Kemper Center for Home Gardening to offset the power demand of the floral clock, a temporary display installed in honor of the Garden's sesquicentennial anniversary.
  • In 2010, a 25 KW photovoltaic solar system was installed atop the Commerce Bank Center for Science Education offsetting approximately 5 percent of the building’s electrical needs.
  • Rooftop solar panels installed at the Jack C. Taylor Visitor Center produce an average of 300-megawatt hours per year, resulting in a reduction of carbon emissions roughly equivalent to the annual output required to power 33.3 homes annually. Learn more
  • Ten additional electric vehicle (EV) charging stations increase capacity for gas-free automobiles, including accommodations for accessible parking with an EV.
Energy Use Reduction:
  • In 2011, the Garden initiated the Turn it Off Campaign to encourage employees to turn off lights, computers and other equipment when not in use. The goal of the campaign is to reduce the Garden's carbon footprint by 10 percent in one year.


Recycling and Waste Reduction

Employee recycling cardboardThe Garden operates one of the most extensive public garden recycling programs in the nation. From office operations to visitor services, over 80 percent of non-organic solid waste collected at the Garden is recycled.

  • Single stream recycling is collected throughout the Garden and at all public events.
  • Over 90 percent of the construction waste from recent Garden projects was repurposed or recycled, including the Spink Pavilion renovation and the Shaw Nature Reserve Edgar Anderson Center construction.
  • Concrete cement, rock, and sand used in construction of the Jack C. Taylor Visitor Center were sourced from local quarries, eliminating the emissions associated with transporting goods across long distances. The limestone and granite cladding on the exterior of the Jack C. Taylor Visitor Center is sourced from a quarry in Ste. Genevieve, Missouri.
  • The Garden averaged 74 percent waste diversion in 2023 by collecting single stream recycling and food waste composting from a combined 60,931 attendees via the Zero Waste Ambassador program at our two largest annual public events.
  • Used visitor maps and tickets are collected for reuse and/or recycling.
  • All outdated electronics, batteries and lamps are directed to specialized recycling facilities.
  • All copy paper is 100 percent post-consumer recycled content.
  • All boxed lunch waste is composted.

Janitorial and Cleaning Supplies

The Garden was an early adopter of green cleaning practices.

  • All cleaning products are Green Seal certified.
  • All janitorial paper products contain post-consumer recycled content.
  • Micro-fiber cleaning cloths have replaced disposable rags.
  • Motorized cleaning equipment is certified by the Carpet & Rug Institute.


Through its progressive strategies for irrigation and buildings operation, the Garden is a regional leader in water efficiency. Some examples of technology reducing the Garden’s water needs within its operations include:

Water Efficiency


  • The use of an on-site weather station at the Kemper Center to monitor the Garden’s micro-climate and employ maximally efficient irrigation schedules
  • Installation of maximum efficiency irrigation controllers and heads which use 30 percent less water than traditional heads
  • Use of surface and subsurface drip irrigation where it is more efficient than sprinklers


  • High efficiency plumbing and waterless urinals at the Commerce Bank Center for Science Education: one of the first installations of this device in a St. Louis business
  • The Garden performs an economic assessment for the installation of high-efficiency plumbing before any new restroom renovations.
  • Cooling towers operate as part of buildings’ upgraded HVAC systems, which are managed for maximum efficiency
Water Conservation

As an exemplary leader in sustainable gardening practices, the Garden is committed to managing its use of chemicals responsibly to avoid polluting our waterways.

  • Garden staff limit and track the use of fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides as well as the magnesium chloride and sand used to treat ice on parking lots and paths.
  • The Garden exclusively uses cleaning products that are Green Seal-certified.
  • Cooling towers are managed with minimal amounts of biocide to control algae.
Stormwater Management

Native plants in bioretention areaThe Garden’s attention to stormwater issues makes it a model for businesses throughout the region.

  • At the Jack C. Taylor Visitor Center, parking lots are engineered with pervious pavement and bioretention areas to retain 50 percent of overall stormwater in a typical St. Louis weather event. Additionally, 50 percent of the stormwater which falls on the Bayer Center is captured on site.
  • A 50,000-gallon stormwater collection system built into the Garden landscape reduces water consumption for the care of the thousands of plants in the displays that surround the Jack C. Taylor Visitor Center.
  • The Garden has done extensive research on stormwater BMPs (best management practices) and offers resources and guides for homeowners to install their own rainscaping.