Climate-Friendly Youth Garden Design

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Climate-Friendly Youth Garden Design

By KidsGardening

When it comes to the layout, hardscapes, and features of a youth garden, making climate-friendly design choices is easier than you think and can offer engaging educational experiences for kids. From creating rain gardens to xeriscaping, planting schoolyard forests and choosing sustainable materials there are many ways to incorporate climate-friendly garden design into a new youth garden or an existing one. Join Paige Payne of Online Landscape Designs, Lauren Carvalho of High Country Gardens, and Ayesha Ercelawn of Green Schoolyards America to explore ways to make your growing space more climate-friendly.


Paige Payne (She/Her) is the founder and lead landscape designer at Online Landscape Designs, where she seeks to enhance people's lives by connecting them to the natural world through outdoor spaces. With 24 years of experience in the landscape industry and a profound love for nature, Paige applies her knowledge to craft Earth-centered landscape and permaculture designs. These designs emphasize water-wise, native, pollinator-friendly, and edible gardens, showcasing how to seamlessly integrate these elements into a unified design. Paige is a Permaculture Designer and serves as a mentor with the Permaculture Women’s Guild. Additionally, she offers eco-friendly garden and landscape education, both online and in person, spanning across Colorado and the United States. Whether it is through backyard gathering spaces, yoga gardens, retreat centers, food forests, natural kids' play areas, or simple herb containers, Paige believes that any step toward Earth-friendly landscaping and nature connection is a step in the right direction. She believes that even small changes can have a huge positive impact on the Earth, people's lives, and all of the species on the planet.

Lauren Carvalho (She/Her) is the Horticultural Manager for High Country Gardens. Growing up the daughter of a landscape designer, she was often a-tag-a-long to job sites and wholesale nurseries, while chores at home included A LOT of weeding. Although it began as childhood drudgery, working with plants has become the focus of Lauren’s adulthood and career. Beginning as an organic produce farmer in the Southwest, she developed a fascination with reducing the use of pesticides through using beneficial insects. This led to a life-altering opportunity learning to propagate native and pollinator-friendly, habitat-providing plants under the tutelage of Horticulturalist David Salman. Currently, Lauren is working with High Country Gardens and some of the brightest thought leaders in Western Horticulture, to learn about and tell the story of these incredibly important ecologically restorative and beautiful plants.

Ayesha Ercelawn, MES (She/Her) is the Education Specialist at Green Schoolyards America. She has taught and developed environmental education curriculum in school gardens for more than twenty years, working in both private and public schools. She has also trained teachers through the San Francisco Green Schoolyard Alliance, Occidental Arts and Ecology Center, and San Francisco Ecoliteracy Conferences. Ayesha obtained her B.A. from Smith College and pursued a master’s degree in Ecosystem Science and Management from the Yale School of the Environment—an ecosystem perspective continues to deeply inform her thinking. Outside her work with Green Schoolyards America, Ayesha volunteers with a local habitat restoration project. As a long time naturalist, she is usually to be found pursuing her own sense of wonder—whether rambling on local trails or investigating life in her garden.

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