Third grade students in Lake Oswego are helping to transform a rarely used patch of schoolyard into a new native plant garden at Forest Hills Elementary School. Clackamas County Soil and Water Conservation District provided a $1200 community conservation grant to purchase nearly 300 native shrubs and perennials for the new garden. The site will also serve as one of six demonstration gardens for the Backyard Habitat Certification Program in Lake Oswego (managed by Friends of Tryon Creek).
Last November, 17 student and parent volunteers prepared the site through a technique known as “sheet mulching.” The 3-step process included roughing up compacted soil with shovels, laying down large sheets of cardboard, and spreading 2-3 inches of wood-chip mulch across the cardboard. Over the next 3-4 months, the mulch helped smother existing weeds and create a perfect garden bed for the new plantings.
On a sunny January afternoon, 26 students and 6 parent volunteers installed the plants, including sword ferns, red flowering currant, and evergreen huckleberry, with the assistance of the District’s urban conservation specialist, Erik Carr, and Friends of Tryon Creek Education Director Matthew Collins. Students have been learning about the benefits of native plants and will soon have an opportunity to visit them in their own “backyard”.