Creating Outdoor Classrooms: Schoolyard Habitats and Gardens for the Southwest

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University of Texas Press, Jan 1, 2010 - Gardening - 211 pages
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Schoolyards have come a long way from the barren playgrounds that many people remember. Today's school campuses often feature gardens in which students can learn about native plants and wildlife, grow vegetables and fruit, explore cultural traditions, practice reading and math skills, and use their imaginations to create fun play spaces. And for a growing number of urban students, these schoolyard gardens offer the best, if not the only, opportunity to experience the natural world firsthand and enjoy its many benefits.

This book is a practical, hands-on guide for creating a variety of learning environments in the arid Southwest. Filled with clear, easy-to-use information and illustrated with photographs, drawings, and plans, the book covers everything necessary to create schoolyard gardens:

  • An introduction to schoolyards as outdoor classrooms and several types of habitats, including art gardens, cultural history gardens, ecological gardens, literacy gardens, and vegetable gardens
  • Design theory, including a history of garden styles, and design principles and design elements
  • Beginning the design process, including identifying participants and writing a design program that sets out goals and requirements
  • Conducting site research and synthesizing design elements to arrive at a final design
  • Design essentials, including project funding and design features, maintenance, accessibility, safety, and project evaluation and revision
  • Wildlife ecology, including elements needed for survival such as food and shelter
  • Creating gardens for pollinators and other wildlife, including hummingbirds, butterflies, bees, moths, bats, and flies, as well as pest control
  • Lists of native plants for various kinds of habitats and nurseries that sell native plants, as well as books, web sites, and other resources for learning more about native plants and wildlife

This guide will be essential for landscape architects, school personnel, parents, and students. Indeed, its principles can be used in designing schoolyard habitats across the country, while its information on gardening with native plants and wildlife will be useful to homeowners across the Southwest.


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The Need for Wildlife Habitat and Native Gardens
Overview of Schoolyard Environments
Nature and Play
Adult Memories of Valued Play Places
Implications for Design
Learning and the Natural Outdoor Classroom
Design Synthesis
Conceptual Design
Testing Design Concepts
Preliminary Design
Final Design
Design Essentials
Grants and Cash Donations
Organization of the Fundraising Process

Schoolyard Garden Types
Cultural History Gardens
Ecological Gardens
Literacy Gardens
Vegetable Gardens
Design Theory
Prehistoric Gardens 200003300 BC
Ancient Mesopotamian 3500538 BC Sumerian 3500900 BC Assyrian 900625 BC and NeoBabylonian 611538 BC Gardens
Ancient Persian Gardens 539331 BC
Ancient Roman Gardens 510 BCAD 476
Japanese Gardens AD 5751600
Medieval European Gardens AD 4761350
Islamic Moorish Gardens Spain AD 700s1400s
Italian Renaissance Gardens AD 13501765
French GrandStyle Gardens AD 14951750
Spanish Colonial Gardens AD 1492mid1700s
Colonial and Early American Gardens AD 16301840
American Romantic Gardens AD 18301930
Victorian Gardens AD 18201900
Classical BeauxArts Gardens AD 18931930
Modern Gardens AD 1930late 1970s
Postmodern and Contemporary Gardens AD mid1970spresent
Design Fundamentals
Design Elements
Beginning the Design Process
A Design Process for Planning Outdoor Classrooms Wildlife Habitats and Gardens
Write a Design Program
Site Research and Design Synthesis
Site Inventory
Site Analysis
Shade Structures
Storage Areas
Outdoor Classroom and Schoolyard Habitat Assessment Criteria
Ecological Principles and Wildlife
Elements for Survival
Water Availability
Providing Shelter
Space to Survive
Pollinator Gardens and Wild Visitors
Hummingbird Gardens
Butterfly Gardens
Bee Gardens
Moth Gardens
Bat Gardens
Fly Gardens
Wildlife Gardens
Completing the Web
Seeds for Thought
Words of Inspiration
Regional Plant Tables

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About the author (2010)

LAURI MACMILLAN JOHNSON is Professor in the School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture at the University of Arizona, as well as a consulting landscape architect in Tucson and Denver.

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