Information: growing & gardens

Information on the theory and practice of growing & gardens outdoors – from case studies to policies, examples of forms, documents & handouts, research and articles, and much more to support your theoretical explorations into the outdoors.

With your help the information section can grow – can you recommend sample policies, signpost articles or videos, share documents or resources? Please contribute so we can build the knowledge and good practice of all people working with groups outdoors. Contact us via

Reports, articles, research etc are, as much as possible, arranged in chronological order, most recent at the top.

Weeding, writing and arithmetic… why green fingers are good for our children

‘Schools should teach pupils gardening skills to instil a passion for the environment in future generations, says horticultural chief.’  The Guardian, 21 July 2019.

How a school garden has transformed the way we teach

‘From finding fresh ways to engage children in maths to improving behaviour, we’ve put a garden at the heart of learning … Four years on, gardening has become a central part of the curriculum’ says headteacher. The Guardian, 29 September 2017.

Working on an allotment is GOOD for your health…and this is why…

‘In a study published in the Journal Of Public Health the authors say: “We found that fewer than 30 minutes of allotment gardening produces a measurable and beneficial health effect.” ‘ Gardening is good for patience, perspective, physical and mental health. Express, 2 November 2015.

Should gardening be available on the NHS?

‘A British doctor and a leading Swedish scientist have made the case for gardening and horticulture to be available on the NHS, during the third annual Royal Horticultural Society John MacLeod Lecture.’ RHS Science blog, 21 November 2014.

Developmentally Appropriate Gardening for Young Children

‘… programs base their activities on sound principles of child development & learning. These principles are based on years of extensive research with young children and are used by professionals in the field of early education.’ Article looks at principles and goals of this approach.  Vicki Stoecklin on White Hutchinson Leisure & Learning Group, approx late 1990s.

Little Green Fingers Guide to Growing Fruit & Veg

Infographic including planting & growing guidance, a celebration of garden insects and a rainbow nutrition chart. Learning Resources UK, 4 March 2019.

inforgraphic on planting fruit & veg

A Comprehensive Guide on Container Gardening

Includes sections on: how to start; choosing containers; potting soil; picking plants; tips & advantages; 7 best veg to grow in a container; kit & tools. Consumers Base, September 26, 2018.

selection of cartoon vegetables and gardening pictures

Green-fingered teachers: how to grow fruit and vegetables in school

‘The joys of growing fruit and vegetables in school go beyond filling bellies, there are lots of educational benefits too.’ Areas covered include how to grow in the classroom, growing on the school grounds & how to link gardening with learning. The Guardian, 29 June 2015.

The Edible Schoolyard Project

‘Our principles lay out the transdisciplinary pedagogy of our whole-child – and whole-school – approach to equity and learning in kitchens, gardens, lunchrooms, and classrooms.’ Huge library of free lesson plans and materials includes recipes and food prep, understanding natural processes, and growing, searchable by location, age, subject and more.

Creating Green Roofs for Invertebrates

A best practice guide. “This guidance is aimed at anyone who is considering installing or planning to install a biodiverse green roof. It specifically outlines how green roofs can support invertebrates, particularly those associated with wildlife-rich brownfield sites.” Includes a review of key research. Buglife, c2011 (pdf).

Creating Green Roofs For Invertebrates - report cover

Getting Started: A Guide for Creating School Gardens as Outdoor Classrooms

‘The Life Lab Science Program distilled their years of world-wide school garden experience into a concise 50-page guide that asks and answers most questions you need to consider for creating an outdoor classroom garden. Items covered include your garden’s purpose; school staff, volunteers, and students; connecting with curriculum; site selection and design; theme gardens; fund-raising; public awareness; and more.’ Life Lab (US), 2007.

Getting Started - school gardens - book cover

A Child’s Garden of Standards

Written to link school gardens to California Education Standards. Examines the benefits & concepts of school gardens, & offers garden-based activities linked to academic study areas & grade levels, with contributions from schools successfully using this model, with plenty of content transferable to similar projects on the UK. California Department of Education, 2002, on Green Schoolyard Network.

A Child's Garden Of Standards report cover

Five nearly free do-it-yourself playscape projects

“five simple projects to start you on your way toward a multi-sensory natural playscape.”  4 of these are growing projects for your setting – bulbs, meadow maze, living willow hut and a sunflower house. From Earthplay.

Get Growing

‘Learn how to build a garden that filters water, provides habitat, improves soil, reduces your carbon footprint and engages your community. Our interactive garden tools and learning resources make it simple to create your garden and use it as an outdoor learning lab.’ From Nature Works Everywhere.

Ultimate Beginners Guide To Gardening With Kids

Comprehensive guide including sections on
• Why should you garden with kids? (Bond Building, Imagination & Creativity, Education, Responsibility) • Setting a Budget • What Type of Garden Do You Want? • Gardening Tools of Choice • Types of Seeds to Plant • Type of Soil • Composting • Watering & Sunshine • Harvesting • Get the School Involved • Benefits of Gardening for Special Needs Children. From Yard Care Gurus (US).

girl with an armful of vegetables, next to the title


Our growing & gardens links page signposts you to the main national bodies, key organisations, initiatives and websites in the world of growing, gardening and horticultural therapy outdoors

Have a browse – there are tons of links to loads of interesting, important & inspiring organisations!

Sections include:

Access & disability
Growing food
Historic, botanic & gardens to visit
Plants & wildflowers
School grounds, growing & gardens
Seed saving

Gardening can help improve self-esteem, calm anger and ease depression, study finds

‘Researchers say councils should create more allotments, arguing this would help keep the general population healthy and boost the British economy.’ The Independent, 30 October 2015.

“Feel better outside, feel better inside”

Ecotherapy for mental wellbeing, resilience and recovery. “Ecotherapy supports people to be active outdoors through gardening, food growing or environmental conservation. This report shows how ecotherapy is used to help people maintain good mental wellbeing – and as a treatment to help people recover from a range of mental health problems.” Mind, 2013.

Feel Better OUtside,Feel Better Inside report cover

Food Growing in Schools Taskforce

Indepth report including sections on the benefits of food growing in schools, what makes a school an effective food growing school, and recommendations.  Food Growing Schools, London partnership, March 2012 (pdf).

Food Growing In Schools Taskforce Report

Exploring the well-being outcomes of tree planting activities for young people

The research examined young people’s memories, experiences of, and feelings towards tree planting. Part of the Good From Woods Project, 2012.

Gardening as a therapeutic intervention in mental health

This article describes why one low-secure unit chose to initiate a horticultural therapy project and organise it as a ‘workers’ cooperative’.The therapeutic benefits of gardening are explored, particularly focusing on the social benefits. The article also discusses the issue of hope, which is an intrinsic requirement in gardening. Nursing Times, 11 November 2008.

Childhood in the Garden: A Place to Encounter Natural and Social Diversity

Inspiring report exploring the important role of the garden in children’s learning, with headings such as: a place for play and inquiry, a place to take safe risks, a place to develop diverse relationships, a place for developing community, a place to widen social views. On Head Start ECLKC, 2008.

front page of Childhood In The Garden report

Gardening in Schools: a vital tool for children’s learning

Investigating the role of gardening in children’s wellbeing, learning and overall development, following the launch of the RHS Campaign for School Gardening in 2007.

RHS Gardening In Schools Report Cover

The Effect of a Summer Garden Program on the Nutritional Knowledge, Attitudes, and Behaviors of Children

“Fifty-six children were included in a study that evaluated the effectiveness of a garden program designed to teach health and nutrition to second through fifth grade-level children. The specific objectives of the research project were to evaluate the effect of the program on nutritional knowledge of the benefits of eating fruit and vegetables, nutritional attitudes toward fruit and vegetables, and eating behaviors of children, specifically consumption of fruit and vegetables.” American Society for Horticultural Science, 2006.

Growing Minds

The effects of a one-year school garden program on six constructs of life skills of elementary school children. Findings show improvements in various life skills. HortTechnology, July-September 2005

Master Gardener Classroom Garden Project: An Evaluation of the Benefits to Children

The ‘project provides many inner-city children in the San Antonio Independent School District with an experiential way of learning about horticulture, gardening, themselves, and their relationships with their peers … Qualitative interviews indicate … many positive effects on the school children’ Children’s Environments, University of Colarado Boulder, June 1995 (pdf).

Making your community garden work for people with dementia

Made by Springfield Allotments in south Bristol. (3 mins 33)