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Before making your plant list, decide first what you need from trees, shrubs, vines and other plants to help you select plants that meet your design requirements and other needs. The lists of trees, shrubs and vines on this webpage provide details to help you choose suitable plants, such as their height and spread, urban and road salt tolerance and preferred growing conditions.

Here are some examples of the benefits and possible needs and purposes that you might have for different types of plants:


  • shading and cooling the schoolyard
  • forming windbreaks
  • creating habitat (food, water, shelter, nesting, shelter, hibernation, etc.)
  • screening unsightly views
  • controlling erosion
  • improving drainage
  • enclosing or defining a space
  • creating linkages between different spaces
  • improving aesthetics (colours, foliage, bark, flowers, shape, etc.)
  • reducing energy consumption for heating in winter by decreasing wind speed and for cooling in hot weather by shading buildings and portable classrooms
  • filtering out dust and other pollutants
  • designing for specific locations (upright, narrow or spreading form)
  • type (evergreen or deciduous)


  • Create a division between different spaces
  • Enclose a space
  • Define a space
  • Screening
  • Windbreak
  • Wildlife enhancement (berries, flowers, shelter, nesting material, etc.)
  • Create linkages between different spaces (for example, to create a wildlife corridor between natural areas)
  • Provide management opportunities for students
  • Increase diversity
  • Special uses (eg. willows for crafts, topiary, etc.)


  • Diversity
  • Create a variety of choice for different applications (screening, defining spaces, butterfly gardens, shelter, uses such as culinary, herbal, dyeing, etc.)
  • Special uses (smell, flowers, berries, stems, bark, texture, fruit, dyes, colour)
  • Climbers for vertical spaces
  • Ground covers for horizontal spaces and low maintenance
  • Wildlife value (butterflies, insects, spiders, birds, shelter, nest-building material, small mammals)

When choosing shrubs, consider the following points:

  • Design needs
  • Height and spread of mature plants
  • Maintenance requirements
  • Relationship between different species of shrubs (size, form, colour, texture, etc.)
  • Location (the effects of mature shrubs on visibility needs, site uses, etc.)
  • Location (the effects of the site uses on the plants)
  • Whether the shrubs are thorny, prickly or poisonous


  • Variety of uses
  • On-going practical application for students
  • Good child involvement
  • More immediate results
  • Good for planting in bare spaces between young woody plants
  • Good potential for harvesting and using in class
  • Easily planted by children


  • Wildlife value
  • Low management
  • Demonstrates colonization
  • Diverse habitat
  • Good for use in corners and low-use areas
  • Very natural in appearance
  • Craft potential

Scrub and rough grassland provide good areas to encourage children to observe, collect or use natural things such as bark, seeds, leaves, insects, logs, charcoal, dried grasses.


  • More immediate results
  • Good child involvement
  • Good practical application
  • Opportunity to observe plant growth from seed to maturity in one season
  • Enormous potential for practical application
  • Provides many cross-curricular opportunities
  • Varied applications, such as:
    • grains for bread-making
    • herbs
    • plants for dyes
    • plants for dried or pressed flowers and leaves
    • osiers for weaving (shoots of willow used in basket work)
    • vegetables for cooking, preserving
    • sense of accomplishment from quick results

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