Outdoor Learning Garden and Reading Benches

Public School Landscapes
W.E.B. Dubois High School, MD

I had the opportunity to design an outdoor learning garden for a public school in Baltimore City.  The purpose of the courtyard garden was to prepare students participating in a new agricultural program for future careers in horticulture.  The site consisted of a large mound of soil with overgrown vegetation and asphalt paving. I was presented with the unique challenge of incorporating the existing soil mound in the design.  I thought of the terraced rice fields in China and how the sculpted topography is not only functional but also visually remarkable.

Site prior to renovation:

Ag lab-before

After completion:

Ag lab-after
The design allows students to grow plants from seed in the greenhouse and then transplant to raised cedar garden beds.  Curving walls provide larger and smaller spaces for planting, as well as places to sit.
Ag lab-fall colors
Steps and a path system provide access to all three raised planting terraces. The garden includes plants useful for making arrangements from cuttings of winter berries, dried flowers, grass plumes, and colorful stems.


Arlington Elementary School, MD

I was hired by Parks and People Foundation to develop an outdoor reading garden in conjunction with a new library opening within the school.

The outdoor space consists of three circular benches, each designed with a different radius to accommodate varying class sizes, as well as outdoor music classes.  A grove of native Dogwood trees were planted throughout the reading garden to provide students with shade and close contact with nature.

I worked closely with the school staff during the design of their new outdoor space.


arlington plan-lr


arlington kids-1
Outdoor class on the larger bench
arlington running
A colorful path guides your journey to each circle.
arlington 2 benches
The 14′ and 18′ radius reading benches after construction.
arlington large bench
The largest radius bench is used for an outdoor class.