White House Grounds Tour


The White House is open to the public.  Click here to get further details on how to tour the White House. 


Tour of the United States White House Grounds


There is a lot of mystery surrounding the White House. We all have heard some great truths and stories about the White House, presidents, families, and staff. The outdoor environment is dotted with the gardens, secret retreats, patios, swimming pools, porches, and other interesting features such as the Presidential Park. It is no surprise that there have been several unforgettable events held there over the years. President’s Park is one of the nation’s national parks.


In Washington DC at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, the White House grounds occupy about 18 acres. The White House was designed in 1935 by Frederick Law Olmsted, and is still used today.  The infamous Rose Garden was re-designed by Rachel Lambert who was commissioned by President John F. Kennedy.


The White House grounds and the garden team consist of 13 general staff. The main Executive Residence staff is the chief horticulturist, and the remaining 12 are staff for the National Park Service.The team consists of – 1 maintenance operator, 8 gardeners, and 3 supervisors. Additional parking service personnel can be hired for some work to upgrade the roads, general maintenance, trees, and other outdoor electrical and plumbing installation projects. Most of the staff have been working there for over 35 years.


The White House and the grounds encompass 18 acres.  The South Lawn was graded and planted by Thomas Jefferson, this where the public events were held before the construction of the North Portico. Jefferson also developed a planting plan for the North Lawn which included big trees to compliment the building. In the middle of the 19th century on the west side of the house was built a series of large greenhouses, where the current west wing is positioned. The North Lawn is planted with flower beds decorated displaying carpets of color.  The overall design of the White House motif is based on the sketch of Frederick Law, Olmsted Jr. from 1935.


The United States White House Swimming Pool

Since 1930 there have been two swimming pools in the White House building. June 2, 1933, the White House indoor pool was built, upon successful raising of funds launched by the New York Daily News campaign. This was created for the President and first family use.


Who built the outdoor pool?

President Gerald Ford was a athletic and a passionate swimmer. In 1975,  they declared to build an outdoor pool at the White House, near the tennis courts.  President Ford made frequent use of the pool and even conducted his press conferences there.


This pool is located behind the west wing, surronded by trees planted for privacy. Beyond the trees the president and family can laze under the pool cabana.  The swimming pool also has a spa/hot tub. The measurement of the pool is about 50 feet by 15 feet and 8 feet deep. President John F. Kennedy enjoyed swimming after lunch and in the evenings. He would often invite his staff and guests from the White House to join him.


The White House garden

The Rose Garden is a popular location and borders the White House western wing and oval office. The garden area is about 38 meters long and 18 meters wide. Under Kennedy’s administration, Rachel Lambert Mellon redesigned the White House Rose Garden. This garden decorates the west colonnade.


There is another beautiful garden called the  Jacqueline Kennedy garden which is located on the south of the eastern colonnade. This beautiful garden balances the rose garden of the White House bordering the eastern colonnade. The Jacqueline Kennedy Garden was built and opened by Jacqueline Kennedy, but completed after the murder of her husband.


Eleanor Roosevelt was the first inhabitant of the White House to show her green thumb and planted a vegetable garden; in the 1940s. She called it her victory garden, it was just a small plot created on the lawn to inspire the nation to follow her lead.


Even before the election of Barack Obama as the United States 44th President, a new project is underway to dig out the lawn and create another vegetable garden. This was conceived as an example to other countries in the world, to plant their own vegetable garden.


One tragic loss during a large storm and intense floods, on June 23, 2006, brought down the revered old American tree (Ulmus Americana L.) on the White House north side.

Another tree that was among one of the older trees on the property, the Magnolias (Magnolia grandiflora), was planted by Andrew Jackson, and which is said to have been obtained from the shooting of a favorite tree of his recently deceased wife. He planted this tree in memorial after moving to the White House. The tree stood for more than 200 years; but in 2017, after it became too weak to be autonomous, it was decided to remove it and replace it with one of its descendants.

Michelle Obama is known for planting the first organic garden at the White House and even had bee hives placed on the south lawn, providing organic products for the first family, State Dinner and other formal events and gatherings.


How many guards can be found in the White House grounds?

There are approx. 824 security personnel, consisting of 2 guards at each entrance of the 412 doors. The White House grounds are meticulously maintained and well guarded by police and the United States Secret Service.