The goal of this project is to create outdoor learning spaces for our students. Listed below are, or will be, layouts of the current spaces and then sample plans. We will also post a list of the items/ideas suggested by our teachers, staff, and parents. 

Spring 2016 Update. This fall the courtyard had some maintenance issues that delayed an upgrade. The construction is now done and the trees have been removed, so we are finally starting to move forward. One exciting change is that we are now working with Ms. Nicholson to incorporate her "Bee Garden" with the plan. An updated plan is shown below. The goal, however, still remains to have an area that is a easy to maintain as possible. 

Large Courtyard - Current

Large Courtyard - Plan

The Sensory Area would be a place for sensory tables on the hardscape that is currently located outside the Kindergarten rooms.

This area would be dedicated to permanent outdoor science exhibits. One example is the Chinese Spouting Bowl and/or Tibetan Singing Bowl. In front of the Sunflowers the current plan is to put down pavers and create a sundial. In the future, other single exhibits would be places around this area. See Clore Garden of Science for examples.

We are currently looking at three picnic tables, each of which would seat at least 8 students. They are square and have spaces for umbrellas. These would be placed around a bed with roses and perennials to attract pollinators. 

Now that the tree has been removed, the plan is to put in benches in a circle for a story area. An outdoor white board could be put on the wall as well to potentially be used as a classroom.

For easier maintenance the focus will be on perennials and bushes, but this will involve spreading the plants around the courtyard. There will be two main flower beds. The half circle will contain roses and blue/purple perennials that do well with roses and attract pollinators, such as lavender, sage, salvia, etc. The other flower bed will have bulbs, perennials, and annuals that can tolerate afternoon sage. The corner, by the art boards, will have full shade plants such as hellebore and blue bells. Flowering bushes such as butterfly bush and lilacs will be placed throughout the area. Honeysuckle and azaleas will be placed along the steps to the basement, screening that area. Raspberry and herb plants will be placed in the sunny corner on the far side of the courtyard. Finally, a bed of sunflowers will be placed against the wall.

This wall is broken up into several sections that could be transformed into art areas with chalkboard paint. It is also potentially an area for outdoor musical instruments.

Tools are generally kept in this 6 foot square area, but without coverage or real storage We would build a covered storage shed with hooks and shelves for all the tools necessary for maintaining the courtyard.

As with the small courtyard, any changes to the small courtyard need to be low maintenance. Likewise, this courtyard can be divided into smaller areas. These are the StageViewing PlatformGarden 1, Garden 2, and Borders

Small Courtyard - Current (images coming soon)

Small Courtyard - Plan

As the stage is already built, what it needs are some minor improvements to make it even more usable. Building Services has been contacted to finally install the shade screen above it. There is also a large sinkhole to the side that needs to be filled in with large rocks and mulch, which will make it safe but allow for drainage.

The area across from the stage is not very useful because of the large drain there. Therefore, the plan is to build a platform across the area (similar in construction to the stage itself). This will make the area usable, but again allow for drainage underneath, students could either sit on the platform or we could ultimately build benches or tiered seating on the platform itself.

There are the two rectangular areas located nearest the library. There are several options for these smaller spaces. For example, one area could be made into a Zen stone garden, which would be very low maintenance. The other area could be made into a small reading/quiet time area, perhaps with benches/sofas and a mulch floor, again for ease of maintenance.

There are several small borders throughout the rest of the space, which would be suitable for perennial plantings. This might be a good space for labeled plantings, particularly perennial herbs or butterfly flowers.