In My Own Backyard

9, 10, 11, 12

The purpose of this lesson is to provide the learners with knowledge of landscape environments and more specifically landscape environments around their own homes, school, and community, so they can be better informed stewards about conservation. 
Teacher Note: The Natural Resources Conservation Service program known as Backyard Conservation Project, which will provide the framework for this lesson.

Lesson Rating 
PrintTwo Fifty-Five Minute Class Periods
The learner will:
  • describe conservation practices for a local landscape garden.
  • analyze conservation practices for a local landscape garden.
  • apply conservation practices to their own home or community landscape garden.
Home Connection 
Ask family members to complete the Backyard Conservation Project checklist found on the web site. Ask learners to identify one backyard conservation problem at or near their home and propose a solution, using any of the bibliographical references listed below. Ask learners to discuss with family members the feasibility of implementing any of the gardening best practices related to the identified problem.


  1. Anticipatory Set: Show the learners a picture of a lawn/garden with many weeds growing in it. Ask: What do you think might be wrong with this picture? What is a weed? (a plant that is considered undesirable and growing where it is not wanted) What makes one plant a weed and another a plant we cultivate? Should the homeowner eliminate weeds from the lawn? What are the pros and cons of using an herbicide?

  2. Show the learners a picture of a lawn/garden with dandelions in it.Ask: What’s the problem with dandelions growing in the lawn/garden?Are dandelions edible? Can anything be made out of dandelions?
  3. Help the learners see that pictures illustrate some of the landscape gardening issues they will encounter and to understand that taking care of the landscape around their school, own homes, and/or community is one way of being an environmental steward.
  4. Arrange the class into ten teams and assign each team a different topic from United States Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Backyard Conservation Project.Each team is responsible for reading their respective sections and sharing some of what they learned with the entire class.
  5. During the group reports, each learner will be completing a check-list applying the ten variables to their own home or community. The variables include: ponds, wetlands, composting, mulching, nutrient management, pest management, terracing, tree planting, water conservation, and wildlife habitat. Teacher’s Note: These variables can be found on the NRCS website under Features
  6. Ask the learners to complete the activities outlined in the School/Home Connection returning the checklist and being prepared to share their proposed solutions to home or community problems during the next class period.
  7. Learners meet in small groups of four or five to share their checklists and report their proposed solutions for their home or community application of the Backyard Conservation Project. In turn, each group member provides feedback to the presenter concerning his/her proposed solution to an identified home or community conservation problem by completing the phrases: “I liked it when you… (or how you…)” or “I wish you had….”
  8. Once each learner has had an opportunity to share his/her problem and proposed solution in the small group, reorganize the class into groups with similar home or community conservation problems and allow time for learners with like identified problems to share their solutions with each other.
  9. Ask the learner to identify in writing, using the accepted writing mechanics of legibility, spelling, punctuation, capitalization, etc., their identified backyard conservation problem and the “final” solution they feel will best address their particular problem after having talked with their family members and heard how others in the class with a similar problem propose to address the problem.
The extent and depth of the learner’s participation in the Backyard Conservation Project group work Completion of School/Home Connection assignment and identifying and proposing a solution to a conservation problem. The extent and depth of thought evident in the written summation of the identified problem and proposed “final” solution.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 02. Service and Learning
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Select a service project based on interests, abilities, and research.
    2. Standard VS 04. Raising Private Resources
      1. Benchmark HS.3 Describe a detailed action for service.