Experience from many projects shows some clear trends, regardless of location, age level, or other factors.
Follow these tips to increase the success of your project:
- Start planning early
- Involve the kids in all aspects of developing the project
- Think COMMUNITY
- Get help with the plants, soils, etc.
- Start with a modest project, then build on success
- Have patience
As with any gardening project or similar effort, it helps to start planning well in advance of breaking ground. Another strategy is to start small and expand later. Some projects start with a prototype – sometimes just a large flowerpot – to help everyone learn about plants and keep the project in mind. In many cases it takes time to learn about the plants that are native to your area and to find sources of information and advice.
Engaging your students, and maintaining that engagement, is the most productive (and most challenging) part of any project. If possible, plan field trips to visit nearby natural areas or nature centers. Note how native plants change through the seasons, and observe the creatures that visit the plants. Encourage students to take photographs or make sketches or written notes based on their observations.
If there’s a Wild Ones chapter or business member in your area, be sure to contact them for advice. A wealth of local knowledge is available concerning native plants and the process of establishing them in your locale.
Schoolyards and similar project sites are shared by many people, so it’s essential to communicate ideas and solicit feedback. Facilities and grounds staff can be valuable allies. Parents with an interest in gardening can be helpful.