Principle 2

The Design

Now that you know where it'll go... What will it look like?
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Choosing a Garden Design

School gardens can quickly become an overgrown maze of blind spots, off-task behaviour and a messy spectacle for anyone observing. This is why it's important to carefully consider what it will look like. When planning your garden design, look at the overall outcomes it is trying to achieve (for example, sun exposure, how people move through it, blocking wind, etc.) before focusing on the detail too much. Your garden design sets the tone for its future existence, and whilst they are usually small in size, they are the spaces that provide children with rich experiences of the natural world as they immerse themselves in the garden.

Remote Indigenous Gardens

Gardens in remote and rural areas may have different needs of their own. The Remote Indigenous Garden Network work to support local good production in indigenous communities. If you are looking at setting up a garden in a remote area, this guide may help you.

Remote Indigenous Gardens Guide
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Getting Dirty

Perhaps the most fun aspect of the school garden for kids is having the license to get dirty! So make sure there's a space for clean up time, and see if you can gather things to help them prepare to get dirty (work clothes, boots or rain jackets). Don't be afraid to let the kids play and get muddy, as it's proven to be great for anxiety, immunity, learning and more! Having the opportunity to play outside and get dirty is considered to be essential to child development and wellbeing, and is even considered a Human Right by the United Nations (1989).
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Design Features

Some key design features that will also need to be considered in your design include:
Sunlight
: The garden will need six to eight hours of direct sunlight a day.
Gathering area: A gathering area can consist of seating circles, benches, stools, hay bales, tree stumps, or anything else kids can sit on.
Pathways: The garden will need pathways for easy access. Make sure some of the paths are accessible by wheelchair.
Storage Area: The garden will need a tool shed for storing tools and equipment.

Hedge Schools

Albeit this is an ambitious approach, AP&E Architects designed a historically inspired outdoor classroom called a 'Hedge School'. This amphitheatre shaped space fully immerses kids in the outdoor learning experience.

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Garden Size

You don't have the space for a garden the size of a national park? Most don't! According to environmental psychologists Rachel and Stephen Kaplan "the sense that there might be more to explore than is immediately evident" is "more important than size". So whilst your school garden may have to squeeze into a small space, as long as you're creating interest points for kids where they can experience and explore, they will be excited by the diverse plants, insects and animals that they can explore.
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Plant Selection

The types of plants you choose to plant in your garden is dependent on the type of climate that you live in. Depending on where you are in Australia, or where you are in the world will mean that you make very different vegetation choices.
Plants for Your Climate Zone

Different Types of Garden Designs

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