Home » Jersey Yards Certification Program » Schools Certification » Get Certified » How To Get Creek Certified » 4. Complete a Jersey-Friendly Project

Now that your students have explored their schoolyard and built their background knowledge about the Barnegat Bay watershed, soil and water resources, pollinators and wildlife, and native plants…

It’s time to design and install your
Jersey-Friendly garden or landscape project!

Project Action A: Plan your Jersey-Friendly garden project.

Now that your students have completed their Learning Actions, it’s time to finish planning their Jersey-Friendly schoolyard project. The Jersey-Friendly Yards School Program coordinators are always available to assist you with this process – don’t hesitate to contact us! You can also click here for some helpful resources.

1) Finalize your project location and project goals.

Have you identified the site for your garden project? If not, have your students use what they’ve learned and the ideas they’ve already discussed to select a project location. Be sure to get the approval of school administrators before beginning your project.

During the Learning Actions, your students identified ways to conserve water, incorporate green infrastructure, and support wildlife as part of their project. Have your students make a list of their project goals and the specific elements (e.g., plants, bird feeders, rain barrels, garden pathways, learning stations) to include in the project design in order to meet their goals.

2) Prepare a sketch of the project area.

Have the students use their schoolyard map to create a new, zoomed-in sketch of the project site. As before, show both natural and man-made features at the project location. Show the dimensions of the project site, which you’ll need when creating the garden design. Make notations on the sketch about the light and soil conditions at the site.

3) Select appropriate plants for your garden using the Jersey-Friendly Yards Plant Database.

Have your students use the Jersey-Friendly Yards Plant Database search filters to find native plants that match your garden goals and the light, soil, and other growing conditions at the site. Native plants are the best choice for easy maintenance and benefits to the environment! Narrow your search to native plants by selecting “Yes” for the Native Plants Only filter in the database.

Be sure to have them include both the scientific and common names on their list of native plants. Include a variety of native plants in your garden to provide year-round sources of nectar, seeds, and fruits and diverse types of cover for wildlife. Other search filters you may find useful include plant types, bloom times, drought tolerance, and resistance to deer browse. 

By registering on the Jersey-Friendly Yards Plant Database page, you and your students can create and print a list of the plants you decide to include in your garden. Use the list generated from your search of the database as a starting point for your final selection of plants.

4) Create a garden design and add it to your project sketch.

Using the size and shape of your garden site as a guide, decide which species on your Plant List will go where in the garden and how many of each. Add a “key” that lists the plants and use symbols or colors to show their planned locations on your sketch. Keep in mind the height and width of plants at maturity when developing your plan. Leave enough space for plants to grow to their mature size, and consider if taller plants may shade shorter ones. Show the location of any pathways or other physical features, such as benches or wildlife stations, that are part of the garden plan. 

5) Develop a plan for long-term garden maintenance.

A garden is a long-term commitment. Develop a plan for how the garden will be maintained after installation. Maintenance tasks will include watering until plant roots are well-established, periodic weeding, and adding mulch once a year. Discuss a maintenance plan with your school’s grounds crew before the garden is planted.  

Project Action B: Prepare the project site.

Is your project site ready to plant? Assess whether any site preparation is required (e.g., weeding, removal of lawn, removal of invasive plants), and how it can be accomplished. Talk to your school’s grounds crew and/or municipal Department of Public Works about assisting with site preparation. Develop a list of the preparation tasks needed and arrange for them to be completed before the date scheduled for planting the garden. 

CALL BEFORE YOU DIG! It’s important that you Call 811 to have all underground electrical wires, gas lines, and pipelines identified by the appropriate utility, so you know where not to dig. Show any “no dig” areas on your project design sketch.

Project Action C: Procure plants and other materials needed for your garden project.

Now that you have a plan, it’s time to gather the materials you need for the project and get ready to install the garden. 

Use the Jersey-Friendly Yards Where to Buy Native Plants page to find local and online nurseries that supply native plants. Check on the availability of the plant species you selected for your garden; nurseries can recommend alternatives for any not in stock. The Jersey-Friendly Yards School Program team is available to help you with this task. Don’t hesitate to contact us for assistance!

Tips for ordering plants: Always provide plant scientific names to avoid any confusion, since common names are often used for more than one species. Try to time your order so plants arrive as close as possible to your scheduled planting date.  

Determine if you need other materials, such as compost or mulch, for your garden. Compost builds soil structure and provides a steady source of nutrients to plants. Applying mulch after planting can help conserve soil moisture and reduce the need to water and weed your new garden. Check with the Ocean County Recycling Center or your municipal Department of Public Works about the availability of free compost or mulch for your garden.

Resources for Project Action C

Need funding to purchase plants and other materials for the garden? Contact the Jersey-Friendly Yards School Program coordinators for up-to-date information about potential funding sources. These organizations periodically offer funding opportunities for schoolyard projects. 

Project Action D: Install your Jersey-Friendly schoolyard garden project.

The day has come when you and your students will install your Jersey-Friendly schoolyard garden project. Be sure to contact us; we will be happy to assist you with the installation of your project. Make it a school-wide event and get help from your school community.

  • Contact the Jersey-Friendly Yards team,
  • Invite other classes to help,
  • Invite parents to volunteer their time and equipment,
  • Obtain photo release forms from students, parents, and volunteers, and
  • Take lots of photos – before, during, and after installation of your project, and have fun!

Ready to submit documentation for your Jersey-Friendly Yards garden or landscape project?  

Upload the Required Documentation to Your Custom Link.

Use the custom link you received after enrolling to upload your documentation.

What to submit for the Project actions:

  • Photo or copy of your Jersey-Friendly schoolyard project sketch with the garden design. (Action A)
  • List of plants, including scientific names, selected for the project using the Jersey-Friendly Yards Plant Database. (Action A)
  • Plan for how the garden will be maintained after installation. (Action A)
  • List of the site preparation tasks and who completed them. (Action B)
  • Final list of plants, including scientific names, that were purchased or donated for your garden project and the sources of the plants. (Action C)
  • List of any other project materials donated or purchased for the project and sources, if applicable. (Action C)
  • Photos of your Jersey-Friendly schoolyard garden project site before, during, and after installation. (Action D)

Components of the School Certification Program