The University of Cincinnati Uptown Campus has undergone major changes over the past decade, including the conversion of dozens of acres of surface parking and concrete into welcoming landscapes.   

UC istrives to incorporate more greenspace, more trees, and more sustainable landscape maintenance processes. A summary of these programs and processes can be found in the Landscape Guide.  Some initiatives include the UC Garden and Stormwater Management.

Soiled Hands Learning Garden

3310 Ruther Avenue, Clifton


The Soiled Hands Learning Garden is a collaboration between the UC Office of Sustainability and Empower Learn Create. Its mission is to engage students of all ages in experiential environmental education, foster interest in gardening and sustainable land use, and build community, all while inspiring deeper connections with nature.

The Empower Learn Create Children's Garden was founded in 2005 as a collaboration between the Center and the Civic Garden Center of Greater Cincinnati. Empower Learn Creat provides daycare for UC faculty and staff as well as community members, for children 3 months to 5 years. The garden was created to provide hands-on nature education for the children.

In 2010, UC students, faculty, and the Office of Sustainability developed a new collaboration with Empower Learn Create to expand and improve the Children's Garden so that it could become a more active environmental education opportunity for both the daycare children and UC students.

In October 2010, a charrette was held and UC students, faculty, and staff worked with children, parents, and staff from Empower Learn Create to learn about urban agriculture and organic gardening and then create a vision for what the garden could become. Several work days in Autumn and Winter terms drew dozens of volunteers who helped build raised beds out of reclaimed ash wood, create a path and planting mounds, clear the site, and plant a small orchard.

The 5000 sq. ft. space is now a place on the Uptown Campus that allows UC students to have hands-on experience with urban agriculture. Several student groups and class projects have become a part of this exciting project. For more information or to volunteer, please email us.

Present Day

Since the Fall of 2016, the UC Garden has undergone a revitalization with the Offfice of Sustainability working to maximize the potential of the space. The Office has adopted a more holistic, permaculture based approach to the deisgn, maintenance, and utility of the space by working with, rather than against nature through using companion planting, planting a variety of bioregionally appropriate edible perennials, working to create pollinator pockets, and harvesting water from the tool shed. The Office of Sustainability is increasingly being more programatic with the space through organizing educational workshops and community building work days.

Bearcat Food Pantry

Beginning in the Spring of 2018, fresh food from the Soiled Hands Learning Garden is donated directly to the Bearcat Food Pantry. Recognizing it's role in the community, UC Sustainability strives to ensure access to food for every person. We hope to do so through this partnership with the Bearcat Food Pantry. Learn more about the pantry and how to donate.

Plant Pollinators

In 2019, the UC Soiled Hands Learning Garden and a section of UC's Victory Parkway Campus registered with the Cincinnati Zoo as a partner for Plant for Pollinators. We are committed to providing vital habitat for pollinators by adding pollinator-friendly plants to our garden. Learn more about Plant for Pollinators.

Green Infrastructure

Green Roofs

Currently, the University has two extensive green roofs, one on the DAA addition of the DAAP complex and one on Procter Hall. The University also has the Zimmer Hall Roof Garden that functions as a green roof. The new College of Business features an intensive green roof. In addition to reducing the amount of stormwater runoff and lessening the probability of combined sewer overflow events, green roofs are multi-functional as they reduce the urban heat island effect, provide habitat, enhance biodiversity, reduce heating and cooling costs of buildings, and add aesthetic, rejuvenating, and biopihlic qualities.

Living Wall

In December of 2018, the University installed its first living wall, located on the Langsam Library patio. Living Walls are a form of green infrastructure that provide multi-functional benefits, as they work to reduce the urban heat island effect, cleanse the air of pollutants, provide enhanced insulation to buildings, reduce stormwater runoff, and provide aesthetic beauty and biophilic connections to nature. The living wall came to fruition thanks to the advocacy and interest of passionate students and with the help of UC Libraries, Urban Blooms, the Department of Planning + Design + Construction, and the Office of Sustainability.


Bioswales are a form of green infrastructure that work to sequester and retain stormwater in order to reduce the possibility of combined sewer overflow events, assist with irrigation, filter out contaminants, and keep water on site. The University has a number of bioswales, most notably the Teachers-Dyer Complex courtyard, the west elevation of the Lindner College of Business and in the parking lot of the 1819 Innovation Hub. UC Clermont College also features green infrastructure where stormwater is funneled from various surface parking lots through bioswales and piped to vegetated beds and step ponds.