Yes. A plan drawing of your school garden is a sketch of the space and your proposed use for it. It does not need to be an elaborate drawing, nor done by a professional. And, yes, you can do it! Plan drawings are not that complicated. Click below to view examples of conceptual drawings of School Gardens.


Materials you need:
  • graph paper
  • tracing paper
  • colored pencils/pencils
  • ruler
A plan drawing…
  • is a critical and valuable communication tool
  • allows you to show teachers and students what will be built, including the location and size of the individual classroom beds so they can start planning their crops

The first step in developing a good set of plan drawings is to develop an accurate base map that shows the dimensions and existing conditions of your garden site. A base map is the point from which you are starting to build the garden, or the original site. You will refer back to it repeatedly. After developing your base map, you will create subsequent designs on tracing paper (placed over graph paper) and to be viewed as an overlay to the base map. This overlay is so that viewers can see the proposal design in relation to what’s already there, as shown on the base map.


What is a base map and how do I develop one?
A base map is the result of a series of direct field observations of your site. The base map will serve as a foundation to guide your garden design, will help you choose the right features and plants for your site conditions, and will help you keep everything in scale. Use the information you gathered in Analyze the Site about size, climate, neighborhood, light, soil, drainage, traffic, and existing features to develop your base map.

Your base map can also be called a scale drawing, where:

1 foot in real life = 1/4 or 1/8 inch on graph paper
  • These are the most common scales
  • They allow you to use a basic ruler
  • They work well to represent the average school garden on a piece of graph paper
  • They are fairly straightforward to understand, with a little practice

Next, draw your bubble diagrams
Once the base map is drawn, you can use tracing paper overlays to draw simple bubble diagrams to experiment with ideas for different zones of use within the garden.

Bubble diagrams are simple circles on a piece of tracing paper that lay atop your base map in order to define the locations of the various garden features. For example,the vegetable zone is a small bubble in the sunny area, and the reading zone is a large bubble in the shade.

Since you have made the base map to scale, you can assess on paper if, for example, there is enough room for pathways or to plant a tree that will reach 40 feet across at maturity. Better to do this type of planning on paper than to plant a tree in the wrong location!


Then add another layer…
Another piece of tracing paper can be used to quickly draw another possible layout; just keep refining until you have a version that addresses each of the goals you have identified for your garden. You can create many diagrams to experiment with different ideas. Try versions with curved lines versus some with geometric forms and bold angles. This is perfectly fine because now is the time to experiment with various placements of “use areas” rather than when the garden is being constructed!

Once the conceptual diagram is developed, more tracing paper can be used to start planning the actual features of the garden—the paths, trees, planting beds, sundials, etc. The drawing will allow you to see how these areas and features relate to each other, and comprise the overall composition of the garden.

Tip: Having a plan drawing provides a great fundraising tool! If you can show potential funders your plan, then they know you are serious and have given careful consideration to your project, and therefore will be more likely to help with funding.