School Garden Ideas
With the kids going back to school we wanted to share some school gardening ideas for anyone interested in a gardening club. Running a garden club is a great way to introduce children to green spaces, growing food, learning about plants and all the nature that is reliant on gardens. The Royal Horticultural Society has a great school gardening campaign to increase participation in schools. Check out their resources here for more information.
Why Set up a School Garden Club?
Setting up a school garden club has so many benefits for students, teachers and even parents. Here are some of the top reasons why this is a great idea.
- A practical way to teach about science and nature. Some people learn better when they are doing something with their hands or seeing a visual representation rather than reading.
- Gardens can be also used to teach other subjects in a more interesting setting. English? Write a poem about the bugs you find. Maths? Using flowers to aid counting. Art? Sketch the garden bed. The possibilities are endless
- Provides low-level exercise that gets students out of their chairs or away from screens. Fresh air is great for health and happiness.
- Teach children about the planet and how gardens benefit our world.
- Promote vegetables and fruits for better diets and a healthy lifestyle.
- Helps foster pride in school and community especially if you create a larger garden that can be used by others in the community.
School Gardening Ideas for different setups
Every school and space is different, and while we'd love to see every school create a huge community garden that's not always possible or practical. While there is plenty of resources on the RHS website, we wanted to focus on the different sets up schools and teachers might face and how best to adapt to them.
Big Green Space
If your school is lucky enough to have a big patch of land for a garden, then make the most of it. A larger piece of land can be divided into rows with paths much like a market garden farm. With this setup, you can grow more plants and use different areas to teach different things. Here are a few ideas:
- One area for perennials and one for annuals to learn about the different types of plants
- A flower bed and a veg bed and how they can both benefit each other through companion planting.
- Grow a recipe - use the beds to create all the veg, herbs and spices you'd need for a recipe. This is a long term project that could teach lots of different skills, especially if you get to cook the veg at the end of the meal.
For bigger projects make sure you properly fence in the garden. This can stop unwanted visitors from entering and will keep the garden secure and safe.
Only a small patch
Even a very small patch of land can be transformed into a beautiful space. Try to select a spot that has plenty of sunlight otherwise you may not be able to grow much. We think a sensory garden is an excellent addition to any classroom. Here are some suggestions on how.
- Smell - Grow herbs that smell strongly. Lavender and rosemary are great options. Mint plants smell great when you brush against them but they can quickly overtake a bed so are not a great option for small beds.
- See - Plant flowers with bright blooms of different varieties. Selection plants that bloom at different times of the year to keep it interesting. Opt for big and small flowers in as many different colours as you can.
- Touch - Small alpine plants and some herbs like sage have unique leaf textures. These will provide students with a sensory touch experience. Double points if the leaves give off scent too.
- Taste - Adding in some small fruiting plants like strawberries and blueberries can add to the edible section
- Hear - Sound can be a bit more difficult to create but we have a few ideas. Grasses and woody bushes that sway in the wind are good to add some interesting noises. A footpath around the beds with various materials can provide distinctive sounds, think pebbles, wood chips and soil.
Patio or Pavement only
Some schools just have paved areas so you will want to utilise pots, planters and baskets. You can opt for larger planters if you have the space. These are usually made from timber and will need quite a bit of compost to fill. Alternatively, collect containers and pots of a variety of sizes to create a collection of planters. While flowers and herbs are a great way to start a patio garden at school, plenty of vegetables can also be grown in pots. Potatoes, beans and courgettes can all be grown in containers, plus the large seeds make them easy for even the youngest children to plant with supervision.
Indoor Space or Student Homes Only
Even if you have no outdoor space, you can still have a gardening club. A window sill can be a great place to grow a surprising range of plants. Growing cress plants has been a long tradition of British schools but you can grow all sorts of microgreens for education and for eating. Potted herbs are another good option, especially woody varieties like rosemary as they are an easy-care option. Cacti and succulents provide another easy to grow option for children. However, it is essential that cacti are only in older children's environments because of the risk of hurting oneself on the spikes.
Whether you're a parent, guardian or teacher, we hope we've inspired you to create a school gardening club for the children in your life. We have also written articles on the best garden plants for beginners and child-safe fencing ideas that are useful resources for creating a safe and fun gardening experience for little ones and adults as well.