Guide to Planning a Community Garden


  • Who owns it? (if it is Council land, permission must be sought from the General Manager prior to the submission of the DA) What is it currently used for?
  • What is the zoning? (eg church, school, state government owned, road reserve, open space etc)
  • Will the project conflict with the current land use?
  • Is there a flooding issue?
  • What size area is needed? What size is available?
  • Is there good access to the site?
  • Is there access to public transport?
  • Is there good northern light? Is there protection from wind? Is there a good water supply?
  • Will you require a licence agreement?
  • What will the garden look like?
  • What is the surrounding land use?
  • What is the current ground cover (concrete, grass, gravel etc)?
  • Does it have a weed infestation?
  • How much of the site is really suitable for a garden?
  • Are there existing structures? Are there existing services?
  • Are there major roads nearby (pollution, noise)?
  • Is the site safe for small children?


Include a labelled aerial photograph (Google earth) showing the location and local context, existing types of residential structures (high density, free standing dwellings etc), existing structures, existing trees and footpaths etc. 


  • Is it in an area that has plenty of passive surveillance (eyes on the streets)?
  • Is it busy?
  • Is it near transport and shops?
  • Is it on a path that is used regularly?


  • Who lives in the area?
  • What is the age group?
  • Are there a lot of people from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) backgrounds?
  • What is the employment level?
  • Do they rent or own their own homes? 


  • What is the locality? How will you integrate with the local community?
  • Is there a way of working with them that will advantage your project (collaborative projects and ideas, minimisation of vandalism, access to resources or funding etc
  • Will there be excessive noise?
  • Will there be access for non-gardeners?
  • Will gardeners cause a parking problem? 

Integration with local community

  • Consider including local groups such as CALD, disabilities, church, local schools, unemployed groups, general community.
  • Also consider the ramifications of housing types in area and the needs that may result.
  • Are there local businesses nearby that might be interested in supporting a community garden (nurseries, restaurants)?

Partnership with the City of Ryde

  • Will the garden partner with Council for waste education, water conservation, biodiversity, energy efficiency, nutritional health, native plant and wildlife education etc?


  • What strategies will you employ to minimise vandalism?
  • What level of theft is acceptable?
  • How secure is the site? Is it near other community facilities? Can it be easily seen from nearby shops or houses? Is there lighting?
  • What is the crime rate in the area?
  • What are the ramifications of a high fence (2m)/low fence (1200mm), locked gate/unlocked gate?
  • Are there restrictions regarding fencing?


  • Has professional design advice been sought?
  • Have you considered/are you designing for low-waste, integrated soil fertility management, sustainability, water management, solar access, integrated pest management, windbreaks, biodiversity, education, accessibility, sociability, safety, access and equity, cultural diversity?
  • Will some potentially invasive species be disallowed?
  • How will you ensure solar access for all plots?
  • How will you ensure that animals (if kept) are secure?
  • How will stormwater be managed?

Structure of garden 

  • Edible, educational, revegetation – be clear as to your intentions.
  • Is the garden organic? If so, will this require education of new gardeners?
  • What plants will be grown?
  • Is there enough room (fruit trees require a little more space and must not be near a public pathway)?
  • What animals will be kept?
  • What garden structures will be needed (how will they be financed)?
  • What training is needed for members?
  • Do the soils need to be tested (sodic soil, contamination, history of site etc)?
  • Will the garden participate in the Seed Savers Network?
  • Will there be permanent or casual staff, a co-ordinator or design consultant?


  • How will water be used and conserved in the garden (water tanks, irrigation, mulching etc)?


  • Will tools be communal? Is a lockable shed needed?
  • How many water tanks are required?
  • How many wheel barrows, hoses, watering cans?
  • Is a propagating shed needed?
  • Will there be a library?
  • Is a notice board required?
  • Is education required in the use of equipment?
  • Will compost bins be bought or constructed?

Waste reduction

  • Composting, mulching, worm farming, reuse of materials – will these items require education?
  • How will you manage perceived problems (smells, rats etc)?

Health and safety

  • How will you manage poisonous or allergenic plants?
  • Consider trip hazards, sharp edges etc in the design.
  • How will you reduce risk with manure, soil and compost?
  • How will you store and manage the use of poisons and pesticides?
  • How will you manage the use of heavy loads such as wheel barrows?
  • Will members require education regarding potentially hazardous materials and situations?
  • Where will you keep the first aid kit?
  • Will you have members trained in first aid?

Access and equity

  • How will you ensure the garden is accessible to all? (older people, people with disabilities)

Structure of organisation

  • Will it be incorporated?
  • Will there be shared plots or only individual allotments?
  • How long will a plot lie inactive before it is reallocated?
  • Is the garden only open to members or will it be open to others for educational purposes?
  • How will decisions be made?
  • How will you find new members?
  • How will you resolve conflict?
  • Who will keep records and what form will they take?
  • Will there be a roster for specific tasks?
  • Will there be a log book?
  • Will there be specific working groups/working bees?
  • Will there be orientation days for new members (policies and procedures, health and safety, training and education, rights and responsibilities)?
  • Is there a focus on community building (social events, community outreach)?


  • Do you need a bank account? Do you need a treasurer?
  • What will the joining fee be? What will the annual fee be? Will it be charged annually or quarterly?
  • How much do you need to raise to do your ‘special’ projects?
  • How much do you need to raise to set up/construct the project?
  • How much do you need to cover running costs on an annual basis?
  • Have you considered the costs involved in promotion?
  • What will the cost be for set up materials and tools?
  • Do you need an ABN?

Grants and funding

  • Have you researched the grants and funding that may be available to you?
  • Think broadly and do plenty of research - there are websites dedicated to grants funding.
  • Will you run ‘events’ or open days to raise funds? If you are thinking of running events, what are the insurance requirements?


  • What sort of insurance do you need?
  • How will you pay for it?


  • Have you considered all the possibilities that might go wrong or hold up your plans?
  • How will you ensure that there is enough interest and energy to keep the project going in the long term?