Here you will gather a basic understanding of expenses, which will require knowing what you need and getting estimates from your sources. This will make garden planning easier and will help you raise the funds you may require.
You should know:
Whats in a garden?
These items can be arranged thematically depending on your goals.
Some schools have elected to incorporate a wetland or marsh, which provides great aquatic biodiversity without standing water. Others incorporate ponds or other smaller of water features.
Tip: Water needs to be handled very carefully. In addition to being expensive to build and maintain, a pond adds a liability to the school and may increase insurance costs and electrical work.
Calculating square footage
Finding the square footage of a garden is relatively simple if the space is a basic square. Simply calculate the area of the space using this formula:
What if I have an odd-shaped space?
Heres an idea that is simple and fun for students to experiment with when working with an uneven edge or a swirl:
Take a length of twine or rope and use it to outline the odd-shaped bed. Mark the point on the rope at which it meets the starting point. Then, remove the rope from the garden bed, and re-place it on a lawn or cement area in a more traditional square or rectangular shape. Have your students measure the shape using a formula for area that they are learning in class.
The area of the shape you calculate is equal to the area of the odd-shaped garden bed.
Example: Your string measures 5 feet long and 6 feet wide in a rectangular shape.
5 feet x 6 feet = 30 square feet
Your total area is 30 square feet.
Tip: As long as no length is added to the rope, the area will remain the same no matter what shape the rope is in. Have students experiment with this concept by re-shaping the rope in several different sizes of squares, rectangles, triangles, or circles (whichever shapes for which they have learned area formulas) and then calculating the areathey should all be the same. This is a great way for students to review and master the basic concept that a defined area can take many different forms without increasing or decreasing in area.
Basis for calculating costs
Putting it all in perspective
The suggestions below will give you some ideas of what you accomplish with a given amount of funds. Please keep in mind that these are suggested ideas, and that prices vary greatly depending on the area of the country you are in. Be resourceful! With specially-arranged school discounts, wholesale purchasing, or in-kind gifts, your available funds will stretch a lot further!
For $100, you can purchase:
For $250-300, you can purchase:
For $500-1,000, you can purchase:
For $2,500-5,000, you can purchase:
For $5,000-10,000 (and up), you can purchase:
You will also need to purchase tools for students to maintain the garden and educational materials that teachers will use to make the garden a learning center. Quantity will depend on the number of teachers and students who will participate in building and maintaining the garden and what materials can be recruited through donation (new or gently used).
Garden elements that inflate costs
A sample school garden might cover approximately 50 x 75 (3,750 sq. ft.) and will not include any buildings, bricks paths, stonewalls, water features, or electrical work. Your total garden area could be smaller or larger, but should be big enough to accommodate the activities of several classroom groups. It is common for the total garden area to be divided between several adjacent zone areas.
For this garden example (which may be more or less than your garden), it costs approximately $2-3 per square foot or $7,500-11,250 to build.
The breakdown is:
In this example, we are assuming you will hire a crew to do sod stripping and other work that requires use of heavy equipment.
If you have suggestions to add based on your experience, please e-mail us.
Ready to start crunching some numbers?
Download the Cost Estimate Worksheet to get a rough idea of what your school garden will cost. See the Tool List to estimate your costs for supplies.