Careful consideration should be given when planning landscape arrangements and plant selections on school campuses. In Florida's climate, landscaping becomes an essential ingredient in the design of outdoor spaces.
Shade, protection from the wind, and the ability to act as noise and visual buffers are just a few of the benefits provided by thoughtful landscape design leading to a less stressful, hence safer, school environment.
Landscaping can provide protection from the wind. A large tree canopy has an enormous capacity to absorb high speed wind energy from storms and hurricanes. A wind break protects not only people but school structures as well. Care must be taken to use tree species that will resist winds and avoid certain softwoods which could split and create an additional hazard in a storm.
Trees can also provide shade, often far more economically than a built structure, and can provide comfort and relief from the heat of Florida's subtropical sun. If tree canopies are trimmed to maintain an eight-foot clearance and are located with care, places people can hide are minimized.
Effective landscape design can create noise and visual buffer that help insulate outside play areas from nearby busy streets. Absorption of high decibel levels of noise before it reaches school grounds make verbal communication and surveillance easier.
Landscaping can also be used as a method of access control. Like walls and fencing, a tightly spaced row of trees incorporated with low level plants, can define an edge that leads to an opening or entrance. Larger trees, such as oaks and sable palms, lining sidewalks and driveways will deter potential motorists from driving onto property and damaging lawns and recreation fields.
The following pages illustrate recommendations for landscaping applications that facilitate both aesthetic and environmental needs while addressing issues of security and safety.