The positive transformations that regularly occur through school garden programming must always begin with the foundation of a well-organized and effective garden plan.  Explore the topics below to find out how you can design a successful and sustainable garden for your school environment.

Getting Started

Sometimes the thought of starting a school garden can be overwhelming.  Here are a few general considerations to be made at the very beginning stages.

Garden Layout

We have developed a detailed, visual and clickable garden design which includes ten beds and a seasonal crop rotation schedule. Explore this site to find out what we are growing in each bed during all four of Pittsburgh’s seasons.

Information Cards

As you continue to work in the garden, you will find that there are many plants, weeds, and insects that find their way into your outdoor classroom. We have created profile cards that you can print out, laminate and bring to the garden as student-lead resources and teaching tools:


Garden How-to

We have detailed notes on all aspects of school gardening that might come in handy as you begin to plan your garden:

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GARDEN CALENDAR: Our garden calendar includes all of the tasks that need to happen throughout the year to keep our school gardens thriving. The items that are in bold have a lesson plan associated with the task. The other tasks are usually done by the garden educator or supportive volunteers.

PLANT NOTES: Learn about all of the plants that we use in our gardens and why we find them to work so well in a school garden setting.

TOOLBOX INVENTORY: Here is a list of what you would find in our “toolboxes” that are located at all of our schools.

BASIC GARDEN CARE: Peruse this document that we give to all of our summer volunteers to get a sense of the essential tasks necessary for maintaining the garden.

COMPOSTING: Learn about the importance of this process and why farmers and gardeners can’t seem to ever get enough!

CROP ROTATION: Organic gardeners rotate their crops according to plant families to reduce depletion of soil nutrients and pest damage.

FOOD SAFETY: It is particularly important when working in the school environment to adhere to these food safety guidelines.

HARVESTING: Follow this link to learn about how and when to harvest all of the bounty in the garden.

LOG BOOK: Find out how we use a log book as an essential resource for future planning.

ORGANIC PRODUCTS: Ideally we would never have to use a product purchased at a store in our garden. A great farmer is one who draws (and replenishes) as many resources from his or her farm as possible. Nevertheless, sometimes a store-bought product is necessary and here is some information about what we use.

PLANT PROPAGATION: Learn about the many different ways to grow and propagate food in the garden.

SAVING SEEDS: Saving Seeds is a wonderful activity for students to learn about basic botany and the cycles of the plant while they prepare for next season!

SEED STARTING: Many of our plants cannot be direct seeded and involve either buying seedling or starting the seeds indoors.

SUMMER GARDEN CARE: We are often asked about how we deal with care for the garden during the summer when school is out. We have devised a highly effective model for engaging families and community members in the care for the garden during the summer months.

SEEDS AND YEARLY SUPPLIES: We have done some experimental research and identified the seeds and amendments that work best in our gardens and where we order them from.