Inside the White House's sprawling secret grounds, which include a hidden garden

The White House grounds were on full display in their springtime glory as President Donald Trump hosted his first state visit last week, complete with a tree planting (and disappearance).

But there’s much more to the 18 acres enclosed by the White House fences that the public doesn’t get to see.

Aside from special events like the Easter Egg Roll and the national Christmas tree lighting, the gardens are only officially open to visitors two weekends a year. See inside the sprawling White House grounds:


The White House grounds are part backyard and front yard for a first family, part staging area for official events.

Google Maps screenshotThe White House is surrounded on its north and south sides by Lafayette Park and the South Lawn.

Source: White House


They’re actually a National Park. The grounds are part of President’s Park, which includes the Ellipse across the street from the South Lawn. National Park Service workers have them maintained year-round since 1933.

Sources: National Park Service, The White House Historical Association


The South Lawn is the largest part of the grounds.

Sources: National Park Service, The White House Historical Association


It’s so big that the presidential helicopter, Marine One, lands and takes off on the lawn, just steps from the Oval Office.

Official White House Photo/Andrea HanksPresident Donald J. Trump salutes as he boards Marine One on July 22, 2017.

Source: US Marine Corps


In September 2017, 11-year-old Frank Giaccio mowed the South Lawn after writing Trump a letter asking if the White House would be a client for his burgeoning lawn-care business.

Source: Business Insider


It’s also where presidents receive their guests for official visits.

Official White House Photo/Shealah CraigheadThe arrival ceremony of French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife, Brigitte Macron on April 24, 2018.

Sources: National Park Service, The White House Historical Association


And it’s where families participate in the annual Easter Egg Roll, a tradition dating back to 1878. The first lady hosts the annual event, which¬†was skipped during wartime in 1918 and 1943 to 1945.

Sources: The White House Historical Association, Business Insider


Former first lady Michelle Obama even welcomed Girl Scouts to a campout on the lawn in 2015.

Source: National First Ladies’ Library


South of the South Lawn, tucked behind trees, is a somewhat secret garden.

White HouseIt’s officially called the White House Children’s Garden.

Source: White House Historical Association


President Lyndon B. Johnson and first lady Claudia Johnson opened the Children’s Garden in 1969. It’s a lovely, quiet respite from the chaos that often surrounds the White House.

Google Maps screenshotYou can sneak a peak at the garden on Google Maps Streetview.

Source: White House Historical Association


Since its inception, 17 presidential children and grandchildren have had their hand or footprints cast in bronze onto the garden’s footpath.

National Park ServiceFormer first daughters Barbara Bush and Jenna Bush’s hand-prints in bronze at the White House children’s garden.

Source: White House Historical Association


Just south of the Children’s Garden is the Kitchen Garden, which former first lady Michelle Obama had planted in 2009.

Official White House Photo by Chuck KennedyFirst Lady Michelle Obama and White House chefs join children from Bancroft and Tubman Elementary Schools to harvest vegetables during the third annual White House Kitchen Garden fall harvest on the South Lawn, Oct. 5, 2011.

Source: National Park Service


The White House kitchen garden produces a variety of seasonal fruit, vegetables, and herbs. All food the first family doesn’t need is donated to local charities.

Official White House Photo by Chuck KennedyChefs Kevin Saiyasak and Jeremy Kapper harvest winter greens from the Kitchen Garden on the South Lawn of the White House on March 13, 2012, used in the meal served at the UK State Dinner.

Source: National Park Service


The 2,800-square foot garden remains in place for the current administration.

Source: National Park Service


Framing the South Portico of the White House are gardens founded in the Kennedys’ honour. On the east side is the Jackie Kennedy garden.

National Park ServiceThe Jackie Kennedy garden on the White House grounds.

Source: Town & Country


On the west side is the famed Rose Garden, where many presidents have given famous speeches.

White House/Pete Souza

Source: White House Historical Association


Former President John F. Kennedy was inspired by a trip to France and Austria to turn the small Rose Garden into an equally useful and beautiful public space.

Source: White House Historical Association


Since its rejuvenation, the Rose Garden has provided a backdrop for a wedding, a lavish state dinner, and is a regular site for press conferences and photo-ops.

Official White House Photo by Pete SouzaThis photograph was taken from the roof above the Oval Office of the Rose Garden during a State Dinner in honour of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her husband, Dr. Joachim Sauer, on June 7, 2011.

Sources: White House Historical Association, The New York Times, Obama White House


A putting green was first installed in 1955, steps away from the Oval Office on the South Lawn. While Trump is an avid golfer, he’s yet to be caught using the green outside his door.

Source: White House Historical Association


Former President Barack Obama had lines painted and hoops installed to adapt the tennis court for basketball. The court can fit a full-size team.

Pete Souza/The White House via Getty ImagesFormer President Barack Obama with members of the National Naval Medical Center Marine Wounded Warrior basketball team on the White House basketball court

Source: Obama White House


Former president Thomas Jefferson first made the grounds suitable for planting trees and flowers, and around 17 administrations have planted trees that stand today all around the grounds.

Source: White House Historical Association


A tree from French President Emmanuel Macron seemed to disappear days after he and Trump planted it. The French ambassador to the US revealed that the tree was merely under quarantine since it’s an imported species.

Source: Business Insider


It’s just one of the many mysteries that the White House grounds contain.

White House/Pete SouzaObama walks with his chief of staff on the South Lawn.

Source: Business Insider

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