Davidson has been ranked in "The 50 Most Beautiful College Arboretums" by Best College Reviews. The Charlotte Observer made note of the ranked campuses that are an easy drive from the Charlotte area. The five criteria that determined the rankings were the size of the arboretum, size of the collection, duration that the garden has been established, opportunities for college students and connection with the community.
Coming in at number 32, Davidson has been a national arboretum since 1982. The early development of the arboretum began when "a few ladies of Davidson College" proposed landscape changes to the Board of Trustees in 1855 and again in 1869 when the faculty approached the Board of Trustees. Around 3,000 trees and shrubs have been labeled.