Garden Site Layout

Connect Garden Site Layout to your Curriculum

  • Click Here for A Tale of Two Plots Activity to engage your students in exploring traditional and contemporary garden layouts.


Raised Beds/ Clear Pathways

When building a school garden, it is important to create clear, designated pathways. Students, especially the young ones, aren’t as careful as we would hope around young plants and soil in the beds. Having a wide path with a thick layer of mulch helps to ensure the safety of your seedlings, soil, and students.

Establishing pathways in your garden will be different depending on your style of project. One thing that is important to remember is starting off with effective weed-suppressing mulch. Cardboard, covered with a very thick layer of woodchip mulch, is an extremely successful and relatively cheap option for your paths. Talk to local grocery stores and retailers and ask if you can have their cardboard boxes used in shipping. It would be ideal to use only ink-free boxes, but soy-based inks are less worrisome and are becoming more popular on packaging. It might seem time consuming at the beginning, but you will be kicking yourself later if you don’t remove all of the tape from the boxes before you get started– tape will dry out and eventually curl up through the mulch. Contact tree-trimming services to see if they can give you a break on wood chip mulch, or use straw mulch if wood chips are still too pricy.

When you are doing garden planning, a good rule of thumb is for every three-foot wide bed, create a two foot path on all sides. Once your tomato plants are bushy and your cucumbers are exceeding their trellis, even a two-foot path will start to feel claustrophobic while weeding and harvesting.

Laying out your pathways in the beginning not only helps with designating walking areas, it also helps with creating raised beds with good drainage. If you layout your space with three-foot wide beds and two-foot wide paths, you can dig out the soil from paths and mound it on the bed, resulting in very nice raised beds. Having a guide to create straight lines will be really helpful and can be as simple as string running between two stakes at the end of each bed.

Establishing the beds and pathways is a great activity for a volunteer day. Many hands, shovels, and wheelbarrows will make this somewhat daunting task fly by. A tilled area can be transformed into a garden in a few hours if you have a game plan and enough tools.



Fencing in a garden can be a significant expense so its best to be clear about what you want from your fence before you make this important decision. Fences can be used to keep critters out, to help define your space, to add a sense of permanence, to help control foot traffic, to support climbing crops like berries. Fences can be beautiful and/or dutiful. Fence material can be as simple as chicken wire and small stakes to keep rabbits out, or beautiful cedar fencing with embellishments such as arbors and trellises. Local lumber yards may be willing to help with these big projects by donating or discounting materials and in some cases may also provide volunteer labor.   



Sample Garden Layout.pdf1.56 MB