Toolshed Tips: Organizing Your Spring Garden Workday

Organizing Your Spring Garden Workday

Spring is a great time to organize a work day for your garden–complete projects that take many hands or special skills and get your garden ready for the season! This is also a great opportunity to gather volunteers that may want to support your project through the summer months.

Planning your workday

Brainstorm a list of spring projects for your garden.

  • Consider spring garden tasks that could benefit from a large group of volunteers.
  • Include any special building projects that could use volunteers with expertise.
  • Plan for a variety of tasks to be completed by volunteers of different ages, skills, and abilities.
  • Plan for more tasks than you think you can accomplish.
  • Prioritize work that must get done and ensure time to successfully complete those tasks.

Make your workday a work “party.”

  • Play music – favorite play lists or live music.
  • Bring food – end to the event with a celebratory meal.
  • Include fun and artistic projects on your list of to-dos, i.e. sign painting, mosaic art, seed starting, etc.

Provide support and thanks to volunteers.

  • Don’t assume your volunteers know how to complete a task. Have educational tools on hand (i.e. props, handouts, visuals, etc.) for providing the necessary instruction when explaining a task. And simply, ask if your volunteers have any questions about the task.
  • Plan for volunteer thank you’s—whether with food, a gift to take home, public recognition, etc.

Gather the right tools for the job. Based on your workday plans make a list of tools and supplies needed.

  • Essential tools and supplies for most workdays include: first aid kit, water cooler & cups, snacks (avoid low-blood sugar), extra work gloves, sun lotion/bug spray, buckets for transporting tools and materials, and trash bags.
  • If any of the tools your workday list are items your garden needs on-hand for the season, purchase or seek donations.
  • Otherwise, you can borrow tools for your workday. If your community has a tool lending library, reserve tools for the event. Ask volunteers if they can lend any of the tools for the day.

Promoting your workday and recruiting volunteers

  • When determining your promotion strategy, utilize connections within your garden community.
  • Consider any special skills/expertise needed (i.e. carpentry, landscape design, etc.) when recruiting.
  • In addition to recruiting general volunteers, seek out people willing to serve as captains for more complex tasks such as building projects or overseeing kids’ activities.
  • When recruiting youth volunteers outline guidelines for involvement (i.e. age restriction, supervision).
  • Ideas of groups to reach out to when recruiting for volunteers: garden members and past volunteers, area businesses with service days/hours, local garden club volunteers, high school service learning groups, scout groups, fraternities/sororities/college clubs

Running your workday

Ahead of the event: Send your volunteers a rough plan for the day, any tools they need to bring (i.e. gloves, trowels, etc.), and how they should come prepared (i.e. pants, close-toed shoes, rain gear, etc.).

When volunteers arrive:

  • Collect names, contact info, photo-use permission, waivers, etc., including parent permissions, as needed (see below for examples);
  • Leave time for everyone to introduce themselves (circle up) or at least use name tags;
  • Use the opportunity to briefly share a little about your garden and opportunities for getting involved;
  • Provide an orientation of the site, including where to find tools, water and restroom facilities;
  • Outline any garden rules that newcomers should know while using the site; and
  • Introduce the day’s plan, with a written list of tasks, the tools and number of people needed for each job.

When pairing volunteers with tasks:

  • If not already in place, assign captains for overseeing larger tasks;
  • As possible, allow volunteers to choose the task that interests them the most;
  • Periodically ask volunteers if they want to rotate jobs so that no one person is stuck with a strenuous or less-appealing job for too long; and
  • Consider best tasks for different ages and abilities.

Document your day:

  • Take a before and after photo of the site;
  • Document volunteers in action; and
  • Get a group photo at the end of the workday.

Sample language

Release and Waiver: I do hereby release and forever discharge and hold harmless (Your Group’s Name) and its successors and assigns from any and all liability, claims and demands of whatever kind or nature, either in law or in equity, which arise or may here after arise from my activities during the workday.

Assumption of Risk: I understand that the workday activities includes hands-on work. I hereby expressly and specifically assume the risk of injury or harm and release (Your Group’s Name) from all liability for injury, illness, death, or property damage resulting from the activities.


Volunteer at a location near you for VCGN’s Day in the Dirt–our statewide spring service day and fundraiser! More info and an online sign-up link at: 

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