Children love animals and plants. Itchy critters between the cracks of stacking walls, flowers with all kinds of colors and scents, beautiful autumn colors of leaves, apples with which you can make apple pie, fluttering butterflies….
Giving space to animals and plants at school is not only fascinating for the children and ideal teaching material, it is also simply good for nature and biodiversity. Through a green network of school playgrounds in cities and village centers, more nature is created in densely built-up areas. This is our conviction and we want to serve as an example to other schools. ln a green play environment the well-being of our students increases, there is less bullying and children can concentrate better. These are proven added values.
A sustainable playground design strives for a diversity of green forms and plants. Native species are used at our school and ample attention is paid to the right plant in the right place. This not only in terms of location properties such as moisture and sunlight, but also in terms of (end) size, toxicity/edibility, treading tolerance, playability, etc.
Because design and management are closely linked, the designers also provide management advice, with management guidelines according to the principles of Harmonic Park and Green Management. A management-oriented design strives for feasible management, without chemical pesticides, and with a bit of ownership and responsibility also for pupils.
Gardening together is particularly fascinating, even in school. The miracle of sowing, planting, growing and harvesting. Amazing to see how quickly some plants germinate and grow, and then harvest, cook and eat! Ecological gardening at school, without chemical pesticides and using closed cycles, can via the children also inspire parents to get involved.
For the planting of our playground, we chose robust trees and shrubs that can withstand some ‘play erosion’, grow quickly and can form fun hiding or camp spots. Plants that smell, give delicious fruits – which are ripe outside the summer vacations – or stimulate the imagination with originally shaped seed pods or leaves. We resolutely opted for ‘play green’ instead of ‘look green’.
To bring nature into the school we choose as much as possible for indigenous plants where birds, butterflies, bees and other animals also benefit. In addition, we offer the children daily contact with a diversity of plant species that naturally occur in the region and the landscape, we find it important that children get to know and appreciate the ‘(wild) plants from here’.
An important role is reserved for (shade) trees on the playground, for herbaceous vegetation with a diversity of (flowering) plants, not to mention climbing plants that can give a maximum greening effect on the playground with a minimal ground surface.
The school has planted around 40 native trees such as hornbeam, beech, walnut and willow on the entire site. In addition, a lot of native perennials were planted such as hazel, berry bushes, butterfly bush, etc. The planting areas will also be planted with flower mixtures. In this way the children will see the four seasons pass by on the playground and get to know the plants. With the planting of these plants, we also hope to attract more animals to our school. The school also has a bee project ‘Bie Paulus’ where bees are kept at school and the honey is harvested and sold. In terms of biodiversity, we have made great progress. On our old playground there was only 1 tree and a few bushes. This has now changed exponentially. Also, we now have a powerful lever to work with the children around biodiversity.