Be Prepared for Life

Activity Kit Two:
"At home in the City"

Part 2. Living on Green Street


Some people don't seem to need plants in their lives. Others couldn't live without them. Are garden and street plants necessities or luxuries? Whatever people may think, plants are essential to all life on earth.

It has been estimated that any growing tree could do all of these things ...

  1. Provide oxygen for breathing.
  2. Control air pollution by removing carbon dioxide from the air.
  3. Protect soil from wind and water erosion, enriching it with fallen leaves.
  4. Help to hold water in the soil.
  5. Recycle water back into the atmosphere, purifying it and cooling the atmosphere.
  6. Produce food material.
  7. Provide shade for people to rest in.
  8. Provide fruit and nuts for them to eat.
It's time to take another look at the power of plants.

Plants make our street world cool, shady, green and private. A friendly place for people, birds and animals alike. Grasses keep the soil on the ground and out of our homes. They cool the surface of the earth so it does not burn our feet. Flowers brings bees and birds to the garden providing us with honey, fruit and song. This doesn't just happen, it has to be worked for. If you want to live on GREEN STREET you must have a gardeners love of plants.


Project 6: Plants for All

Many South Africans would love to plants trees and bushes but don't know how to get started. Start your own backyard nursery and grow healthy plants for the greening of your streets.

Make a survey of the trees that grow well in your area or a similar area. Note the street addresses where mature trees grow.

Visit these sites in autumn and spring and ask permission to collect seed from these trees.

Collect as many 2 litre plastic cool drink bottles as you can.

Remove the base of the bottle by pouring boiling water into the bottle to dissolve the glue. Cut the neck off the bottle.

Place a few small stones into the base and top it up with a mixture of compost sand and manure.
The soil needs to be moist but not wet.
Plant one seed in each base just below the surface.
Turn the bottle upside down over the base.
Place the bottle in a sunny spot.
Water lightly once a week.
The seeds should grow within a month.

Leave the seedling in the bottle for another 3 weeks and then plant it into a plastic bag.
Place these bags in a protected place and water once a week.
The seedling is planted into the ground when it in 30 cm tall.
Water regularly for two years.

For more information on tree planting write for:
Growing your own trees from seed, Kwazulu Bureau of Natural Resources, Private Bag X23, ULUNDI 3838.
or:Trees for Africa, P.O. Box 18, JOHANNESBURG 2000.


Providing the trees is only the start...people need to be taught to care for them or they will die.

Donate a tree to every family that has a child in your area.
Ask permission to plant the tree in their garden.
Ask people to plant a tree of remembrance for those they loved.
These trees have more chance of being cared for.

Where the home is too small for a tree, provide a succulent pot with instructions about not over watering. Rock gardens can be planted in places where nothing else will grow if sunlight can reach the plants.


Project 7: Care Journal

A care journal aims at promoting personal awareness.
Group members can start personal logs of what they see of nature in their street-worlds. eg.

  • List the flowers as they open.
  • Bird behaviour in the gardens [See also Kit 1. Project 9].
  • Insect behaviour (eg.bees swarming).
  • Seasonal plant structures [fruit, mushrooms, pollen cones, seeds.]
  • Records of growth rates.
  • Weather and animal behaviour [snails after rain] etc.
It is particularly interesting to do this over a change in season and produce a CHANGES IN NATURE chart for the Patrol den wall.


Often the street world is designed for cars and buildings instead of people. Its full of space but is it a friendly place? People have the right to enjoy the world they live in and to try to improve it.

Project 8: Turning Spaces into Places

Survey your area making a sketch map of all open spaces. The fields, vacant lots, road verges, ditches, embankments, stream courses and parks.

Do any of these sites have the potential to become a place that people could use better use of.

What needs to be done to improve it?


Adopt a site.

Find out who controls it and ask their permission to clean it up and mow or clear it for off road games.

Alternatively, plan a street walk through your area.

Identify interesting plants along the route.

Ask the property owners permission to look at their plants and hear what they have to say about them.

Plan a garden trail through your area, which can be visited with permission during the flowering season.

Advertise scout-conducted walking tours through these beauty spots.

This will raise the awareness of local people to the beauty of gardens. It will give your group good experience in conducting educational tours. You may even attract more tourists to your area if advertised through your local Information Bureau.



Green attitudes are not just for nature, they are all about people as well. Like nature, people are often neglected, especially the very young and the old.

Scouts can play a useful role in their community by actively noting those who need help and volunteering a community support service, street by street.

Many people, may not understand the need for nature conservation, but will understand `people conservation' activities. You will have the chance to tell them that caring for the environment where people live is also caring for people.

Project 9: Care Watch

A neighbour in need is a neighbour indeed!

Survey a street or block.
Identify those who are shut in and who need a visit.
Identify those needing child minders.
Identify those who need shopping done for them.
Identify those who need simple low cost repair chores.
Identify those who need some help with their gardens.
Leaf sweeping, gutter clearing or lawn mowing.
Identify those who need windows cleaned.

See what you can do to help these people yourselves.

Part Three: Living on Busy Street

© Copyright 1991 - 1994
Dr Frank Opie for the South African Scout Association