Garden Design for Children

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University of Delaware
This thesis develops recommendations for the design of children's gardens which are sensitive to the preferences, perceptions, interests, and activities of middle childhood, Children's gardens are not a new phenomenon. For over the past century, public gardens, schools, and private industries established extensive youth gardens, gardening programs, and resource manuals. Believed to teach important cultural values, these gardens typically followed a specific design which included rows of small, rectangular plots linked together by pathways and community areas. Although well informed about how to garden with children, little is known about children's perceptions and use of gardens. Such information would be invaluable when designing gardens for children. To facilitate this understanding, middle childhood development, playground, and phenomenal landscape studies are reviewed, with a focus on child/nature relations. These studies disclose principles relevant to planning children's environments, and ultimately, children's gardens. More specifically, a study of children's artwork reveals how some elementary school students perceive gardens, suggesting that children have aesthetic, color, and landscape element preferences. Overall, youngsters prefer ornamental and colorful gardens with elements which stimulate activity and participation. The Children's Garden at Longwood Gardens, Kennett Square, Pennsylvania incorporates the observations and principles gleaned from this research. The layout of this garden is explained, followed by design recommendations for gardens created for children's use and pleasure.
Education - public gardens, Garden design, Children's gardens, Child development