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Green the Landscape

Given that most of our schoolyard projects are with urban schools, our design teams create plans that seek to expand any existing green spaces and plant new vegetation.  

With careful planning, native trees, shrubs, and other plants in the schoolyard create shade for students as well as habitats for wildlife. Some plans use these green spaces to create pleasing boundaries between different play areas. 

Even for a school seeking to make only improvements, the single step of de-paving a portion of a hard-top schoolyard creates space to green the landscape. During non-school hours, trees turn a schoolyard into a desirable destination for families, who tend to gravitate towards play spaces that offer ample shade.

These greening measures also minimize the school’s environmental impact, by:
  • reducing pollution and stormwater runoff

  • lessening the “heat island” effect: high temperatures that occur in places dominated by pavement and buildings

  • improving air quality, given that asthma is often a significant concern for school-age children. 

In designing the schoolyard’s hard surfaces, landscape architects can direct stormwater to feed gardens and trees in the yard. 

These designs have a valuable “soft” impact as well: helping students to reconnect with nature and develop a lifelong appreciation for the environment. In caring for a garden, for example, students can:
  • engage all of their senses
  • increase their self esteem, which can lead to improved performance in school
  • collaborate and socialize, so they form positive relationships with peers.
 
Examples of our work

The site plans and renderings below reflect ways to green the landscape at a number of our school project sites. 

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When planning and designing a sgreen choolyard, consider these elements:

  • shade trees
  • vegetable/fruit and sensory garden
  • natural habitat and habitat zones
  • orchard
  • streetscape planting
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