Wildlife Habitat Gardens

Getting started

Recommended steps for success include: 1) create a team, 2) create your vision, 3) gain necessary approvals, 4) inventory your site, 5) draw up your design, 6) create a materials list and budget, 7) find resources, 8) plan work days and planting days, 9) create a maintenance plan.

1. Create a team

Create a habitat team of at least 4 people and define their roles (team leader, budget coordinator, volunteer coordinator, publicity, etc). You can use this Habitat Team Planning Sheet to help.

2. Create your vision

See Local Schools with Habitat Gardens for inspiration and refer to this Visioning Worksheet.

3. Gain necessary approvals

This step can take a while, so get started early! You will need the approval of:

  • Your Principal
  • The School District Facilities department (requirements vary depending on your district). for example:
  • Austin ISD – Fill out the AISD Schoolyard Improvement Application Form
  • San Antonio ISD – Contact Department of Plant Maintenance and Operations

· *Know about procedures in another school district? Help us update our info!

4. Inventory your site

The National Wildlife Federation Schoolyard Habitat How-To guide suggests collecting:

  • A map or school campus blueprint (baseline mapping activity) - note buildings, utilities, power lines and water sources)
  • Existing vegetation and structures (note trees and garden areas already exist)
  • Soil tests (for type and quality)
  • Water Flow/Topography data (contour and slope of site)
  • Traffic Pattern information (existing pathways, and where people walk)
  • Sun/Shade pattern
  • Adjacent and historical land use could give you inspiration for what to build in your space
  • Evidence for the current presence of wildlife

5. Draw up your design

Your design will be based on the data collected in your site inventory. Make sure your plan includes accessibility to people with disabilities.

6. Create a materials list and budget

Your list should take into account items like:

  • Plants

  • Trees

  • Soil, compost, mulch, decomposed granite, edging for beds, cardboard or weed cloth

  • Tools

7. Find resources

Some options for resources include (visit our resource page for other options):

  • Fund raise (money and supplies donations)

  • Find volunteers

  • Order Materials

8. Plan work days and planting days

Try to engage the community and parents, take lots of pictures and get photo releases signed for all kids; have snacks and water available for volunteer work days too. Here is a sample planting day checklist.

9. Create a maintenance plan

Refer to the maintenance section for this project for considerations for your plan.

10. Plan a celebration

Certify your Pollinator Habitat through the National Wildlife Federation and/or through Monarch Watch, and then thank your volunteers and spread awareness of your garden space!