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Sustainable School Gardens
Growing a sustainable school garden not only reinforces science and environmental education but also helps in growing healthy food habits. While traditional gardens use a lot of water and could result into pesticides pollution, a sustainable garden works with the nature to maintain ecological balance. Here are tips for growing your own sustainable school garden:
  • Modify the Irrigation - In traditional sprinkler-type irrigation, water is often wasted due to run off or through evaporation. By using a drip irrigation system, you can deliver water directly to the plant and avoid runoff.
  • Use Native Plants - Plants that are native to our climate need less care and water and will be healthier than exotic species. Native plant species also provide habitat for native birds, insects, and other wildlife.
  • Amend the Soil - Provide a nutritious food source for your plants by amending the soil with compost. Healthy soil grows healthy plants that can also withstand pest infestation. Making your own compost on the school site has number of other benefits such as reducing waste and providing a fun learning experience for children.
  • Use Mulch - Covering your soil with mulch helps in retaining moisture and suppressing weeds. Any material such as wood chips, straw, nutshells, paper, sawdust, leaves, grass clippings, or even coarse compost can be used as mulch.
  • Use IPM - Protect the health of children and the environment by practicing integrated pest management (IPM) rather than applying herbicides and pesticides. IPM encourages long-term pest prevention through biological controls, habitat manipulation, use of resistant plant varieties, improved landscape and building hygiene, and pest barriers. For weed prevention, use simple techniques such as a weed cloth underneath the garden path or containers to suppress weeds.
  • Gardening for Extra Fun – Insectary plants and beneficial creatures: Invite beneficial insects and birds to your garden by choosing plants that attract them. A healthy, diverse garden will attract beneficial creatures such as dragonflies, ladybugs, lacewings, syrphid flies, and tiny, non-stinging wasps, which feed on pests. You could also attract non-stinging native bees, butterflies and hummingbirds by planting species that attract them. In addition, consider bird and bee nesting boxes to add to the wildlife that would visit your garden. Together, they will make a school garden a unique outdoor science laboratory and provide great learning experiences for children.
  • School Landscape and Hardscape - Do not forget about the rest of the landscape in your schoolyard. Are your storm drains marked for no dumping and litter? Is your front yard landscaping and the school playfield maintained without the use of harmful herbicides and pesticides? Is there room for converting existing impervious hardscape to pervious surface, or perhaps create a rain garden to soak up rainwater? These are other great and manageable projects that will green your school yard.

Additional Information
Need additional help getting started? See our resources directory to find contact information for professional assistance and help guides.