Planning for a New School Garden

I’m helping a school put in a new school garden and will use this site to keep a record of the things we consider.


  • ASK for Money from garden clubs and other nature groups. The school I’m working with asked one group for $2000 and they gave them $2500!
  • Kirkwood Garden Club, Webster Groves Garden Club, NABA, WGNSS, St. Louis Audubon, Gateway Greening, Brightside St. Louis, Forest Releaf, Kiwanis, Optimist club.
  • Get some help. The teacher emailed me asking for help and to come out to the school and give some advice.
  • Order seed and containers to grow it in. I like the trays with 36 cells per tray and a plastic cover. Here’s the link from Park Seed. I prefer the larger cells and instead of transplanting plants I just let the largest plant live in the cell and snip off the others. Depending on the cost of the seeds, I put anywhere from one to six seeds per cell.
  • Evaluate the area.
  • Do some research on raised beds – see links at the bottom.
  • Evaluating seed starting possibilities.


Park Seed has a professional, but expensive solution to starting seeds and plants for $399.

I use a much less expensive solution in my basement – regular fluorescent lights – $20 to $50 each – that I just hang from the ceiling. I prefer the more expensive, but better shop light from Home Depot.

Another solution I use is a wire shelf unit. I can usually fit nine trays on this four shelf unit. I could also possibly use the top shelf if it has some natural light.Shelves-for-plants-web

Site Analysis – look at the potential site and see what its pluses and minuses will be.

  • Sunshine – does it have enough – what’s the path of the sun – what will be the sunny and shady areas.
  • Water availability – hose? turn-off valve necessary? sprinkler? While raised beds look nicer, they also will dry out faster.
  • Soil analysis – usually pretty bad for most Missouri soils.
  • Drainage – will water drain away from the site?
  • Site level or sloping?
  • Raised beds or in-ground? Stone, wood, concrete block?
  • Paths through the garden areas.
  • Materials for paths – stone, mulch, paving materials.
  • Define the garden area – fence – stone
  • Stay away from playgrounds.
  • Signs for garden?
  • Tool-shed-Storage area?
  • Distance from school? The closer the better usually although you don’t want kids walking through the garden beds.
  • Areas for instruction – tables/benches
  • How easy will it be for maintenance people to work around the area?
  • Who will maintain the garden during the school year?
  • Who will maintain the garden during the summer?
  • Weather Station?
  • How will you get rid of garden waste?
  • Composting – where will this be?
  • Garden Design – get kids involved.
  • Organic vs artificial?
  • What are you going to plant? Vegetables, herbs, butterfly garden etc.?
  • Accessibility – how can you make this wheel chair accessible?
  • Security and Safety – is this area safe for kids to be?
  • Containers for invasive plants.
  • Future Usage – what are the plans for this site in the future? Will the school be using this space for other purposes in the future?

Other Resources

Click to access CSGN_book.pdf

Raised Beds

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