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Linda Chalker-Scott Olympic Hills Elementary (2000)

Olympic Hills Elementary School Landscape Renovation Plan

A Project by UW students in Landscape Plant Selection and Management (Fall 2000)

Design Theme: Spring Color/Community Garden

This project site was on the west side of Olympic Hills, extending from a sidewalk south to an existing garden. Prior to renovation, the site consisted of a large swath of turf planted between a sidewalk and the school building, interrupted only by a lone, sickly tree. There was also a long row of Pieris japonica alongside the building, framed by azaleas and a Juniperus sp. at each end. In addition, some invasive Hypericum sp. (St. John’s Wort) was planted along the south end of the site. The area has a well drained sandy loam soil and heavy exposure to sun and wind. After assessing the site and talking to teachers, students, and parents, the students proposed three long-term goals:

  • Provide Olympic Hills Elementary School with a sustainable landscape that is aesthetically pleasant yet low-maintenance
  • Increase educational opportunities on the school grounds
  • Involve teachers, students, and parents in the design, implementation and maintenance activities, thereby engendering a sense of ownership

The basic plan for the site called for creating three planting strips spanning the length of the building as well as rehabilitating a raised bed garden in the playground area. The planting strips were cleaned up by removing weeds and turf and pruning existing plants. After renovation, the Olympic Hills students helped the UW students plant the strips with a variety of spring-flowering bulbs. Long-term plans call for installing additional plants to create three small teaching gardens with interconnected themes. Members of the Olympic Hills community will add new plants as resources allow, using the design proposal created by the UW students. The three proposed planting area themes are: a water-wise garden containing hardy herbs and grasses with a Mediterranean theme, a winter garden with winter-blooming shrubs and perennials, and a garden of Puget Sound native species. In the playground area, a large planter box was rehabilitated and planted with bulbs for spring color; each year, parents and students will grow and install edible plants for enjoyment throughout the rest of the year. Finally, the UW students replaced the school’s John Stanford memorial tree, which was in decline.

Below are photographs taken on our observational trip to Olympic Hills, followed by photos of our work parties and the final product. Click on any picture to see a larger version.


A big thank you to the following individuals and organizations for your assistance with our project.

  • Olympic Hills Elementary students, staff, and parents
    Assistance with this project.
  • Brent Schmidt, Seattle City Light
    Donation of a tree.

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