Designing a Children's Garden

Article excerpt

Landscape architects and horticulturists design gardens and so can children. A children's garden provides an opportunity to look at large-scale design.

The technology of garden design involves the tools and processes of linear and area measurement, of measuring rainfall and wind, determining exposure to the sun, and evaluating soil composition and drainage. It also involves the selection of plants and structures based upon the constraints of the above factors and the purpose of the garden. A good children's garden should be ecologically sound, provide animal and insect habitats, attract visitors, and have end products that satisfy human needs. A children's garden can be designed to integrate history, literature, art, math, culture, and, of course, technology.

Design Activity 1: Site location and evaluation.

The first step is to decide where to place a children's garden. It doesn't matter if the garden is large or small, or if it will be in-ground or in moveable containers. For this activity, let's suppose we will design a garden to support plant life in a raised bed and close to a walkway.

1. Measure the site.

With a measuring tape, measure and record the length and width of the garden. Depending upon grade level, the children and the teacher will decide upon area.

2. Inventory the site.

Note where existing elements such as trees, shrubs and walkways are located. Are there elements that must be removed or changed? How much sunlight does the site receive? Measure the rainfall, or, if time is short, consult the local weather station for normal rainfall amounts. Will the children need to supplement the amount? is the site close to the classroom? Will vandalism be a problem?

Design Activity 2: Determine the needs and purposes for the garden.

The second step, which might be considered at the same time as site location, is to decide upon the purposes for the garden.

1. How can the garden relate to what is being studied in the elementary classroom? List the subjects being studied and the theme it could contribute to the garden design. …