Nature Lab

Resources for Building a School Garden

Young girl gardening.
Building a community garden The Nature Conservancy installs a community garden in Brooklyn, New York. © Jonathan Grassi

How to Build a Garden

Want to start a school garden? Our lessons cover planning, building, and caring for your garden, plus a video on overcoming common student fears.

Curly leaf parsley
Curly leaf parsley Curly leaf parsley growing at a school garden at Chamblee Middle School in Atlanta, Georgia. © Nick Burchell

Planning Your Garden (Part I)

Having a successful and productive garden starts with a great plan. In this first How-to-Garden video, learn how to design your garden for the most impact. Maximize the sunlight, water source, soil quality, climate, and budget available to you. Watch video

Goethe Elementary garden build
Goethe Elementary garden build Students from Goethe Elementary plant native plants in their school's garden in Chicago, IL. © Sandy Bressner

Building Your Garden (Part II)

Believe it—you can build a garden in a single day. In this second video of the How-to-Garden series, you will see that creating a garden doesn’t have to be overwhelming. By following these guidelines, you will build a productive and healthy garden from the ground up in just a few hours. Watch video

Louisville Trees Slide 9
Youth in Lousiville Engaging youth and urban communities in environmental stewardship now will inspire a new generation of leaders to tackle the challenge of making cities and communities sustainable places to live. © Photo Devan King/The Nature Conservancy.

Caring for Your Garden (Part III)

You’ve planned and planted; the soil, plants and structures are in place. Now what? In this third video of the How-to-Garden series, see and hear how easy it is to care for your garden. Learn about the three components of a healthy, productive garden and develop long-term maintenance strategies. Watch video

Las Vegas Garden Build
Las Vegas Garden Build Students from Roger Bryan Elementary School and volunteers from Lowe's paint planter beds in Las Vegas, Nevada for a garden build volunteer day. © Devan King/The Nature Conservancy

Fears in the Garden (Part IV)

Fears—everybody has them. But don’t let gardening fears stop you from enjoying the fun and the bounty. This final video in the How-to-Garden series will guide you through some of the most common fears in the garden and how to manage them. Bees? Heat? Black thumb? Not to worry—find out how you can take real steps to keep the fun going without fear! Watch video

Additional Gardening Lessons

Big Darby Headwaters Milkweed
Big Darby Headwaters Milkweed Milkweed and pollinators at Big Darby Creek Headwaters Preserve © Jessica Lin/TNC

Habitat and Pollinators

A garden provides habitat for many diverse species, small and large. In this lesson, students conduct habitat surveys in their garden to track, measure, and report on the biodiversity of their garden, exploring relationships between species and learning more about the important role of pollinators. 

Watch video | Download Teacher Guide | Educator Support Video

Homegrown tomatoes
Homegrown tomatoes Danyell Brent displays the bounty of tomatoes from his community garden in Philadelphia. © Marc Steiner

Food and Carbon

In this lesson, students will consider different ways food is produced, transported and consumed. The two videos that accompany this lesson, The Industrial Tomato and The Local Tomato, highlight the difference in production, transportation, distribution, and quality of the two types of tomatoes. 

Watch The Industrial Tomato | Watch The Local Tomato | Download Teacher Guide

Birmingham, Alabama
Birmingham, Alabama A student from historic Woodlawn High School in Birmingham, Alabama, holds a handful of soil while working on a "conservation lab." © Devan King/TNC

How Dirt Works

Soil sustains plant and animal life, regulates water, filters pollutants, cycles nutrients and supports structures. In this lesson, students learn the value of soil and its role as a natural resource. 

Watch Video | Download Teacher Guide

Blue & Green Exchange Chicago
Blue & Green Exchange Chicago Two Marshall Square residents tour a community garden in Chicago. ©

Community Gardens

Your garden is biologically and ecologically important, but it can also play a huge role in benefiting your community. Use this guide to help students plan community engagement events that bring your school and wider community into the garden. 

Watch video | Download Teacher Guide

Explore Our Youth Curriculum

Access resources aligned to The Nature Conservancy's research and designed specifically for a young audience and classroom use.