The landscaping of the David M. Rubenstein Visitor Center and Smith Education Center by Michael Vergason Landscape Architects is designed to restore the natural forest that was removed for construction and blend the complex of buildings into the native Monticello woodlands.
The plantings—mostly modern cultivars of North American native species—include about 170 large trees (2-inch caliper and above), 500 whips for re-foresting naturalized areas, 2,500 mature shrubs, and more than 13,000 groundcovers (ferns, wildflowers, perennials). With about 40 species of trees, more than 50 species and varieties of flowering native shrubs, and 75 types of groundcovers, the landscape will provide vibrant color in all seasons.
The greensward that connects the new center and Monticello's African-American Graveyard features naturalized plantings combined with the existing forest land. Rainwater will be channeled along its heavily landscaped streambed, which is laid off with oak logs to create step pools. Additionally, low-lying and peripheral areas around the center and visitor parking areas have been sowed with native and perennial grasses to create meadows and further the effect of the landscape design.
An automatic irrigation system, with 24 zones and approximately 400 sprinkler heads, has been installed to sustain the various plantings through the initial growing seasons.