How do gardens change? Looking for Cause and Effect

Each year a garden experiences many changes. Just like us it grows and develops. A garden is expected to change each year and so are we. We get taller, stronger and our body change. These changes also happen in the garden. Plants grow, get stronger and expand to take up more area in the garden. Sometimes there are changes in the garden like leaves turning colors in the fall. These are changes we expect. Then there are changes that we cannot plan for. These changes happen due to nature itself and due to people.

What makes the changes? Lots of things.SONY DSC

The garden may be changing due to the seasons changing – leaves growing on trees, flowers blooming and leaves falling from trees in the fall.

It might be the weather. A year or two when it rains all the time or does not rain at all can make a big difference in our garden. Plants are picky and need a certain environment to be healthy. This environment is called an ecosystem. When that system changes then plants might not survive. Each plant needs a special amount of light, a certain temperature and a certain amount of moisture or water to be healthy. It is why you see plants growing in special places in the garden. The bog plants need lots of water but the prairie plants need it to be drier and sunny.

Weather could also bring storms. Big storms like tornados and high winds. These winds can break or tear trees and bushes from the ground. Once the trees are gone the amount of sun light in the garden changes. Now there are plants that are getting to much sun and will slowly die away but others who needed more light will begin to flourish (to grow and be healthy).

Changes to the garden might be from animals or insects. If a group or population of beetles becomes too large they might eat and destroy a plant species so next year we will not find it growing in the garden. At times it might be to many large animals, like deer, that will eat a plant until it is gone. We are lucky at Eloise Butler Wildflower garden because there is a fence that helps protect the plants from larger animals that might do damage to them.EBWF 2

Another big source of change for a garden is people. We can be helpful in making changes in a garden but we can also do lots of things that hurt our garden environment. One example is when people move plants to new places where they might not belong. These new plants might harm other native plants by growing to much and squeezing then out.  (Native plants are those that grow naturally in a location. New plants that are brought to a place are called introduced species.)

Time to Explore:

Take time to look at your garden and neighborhood.  Think about how it has changed over the last month, year or years.

Make a list of the changes you see in your science notebook/journal.

When things change there is always a cause. A cause is a reason something happens.  After the cause there is an effect. The effect is what happens as a result of the change. When we see causes and effects in our environment it helps us understand why things happen.

Ask your self these questions when looking at changes:

  •  What happened?
  • Why does this happen?

Remember that there might be several effects and there might be more than one cause.

Make a cause and effect chart in your notebook to help you understand the changes. Make three columns on your page. Title them (see the chart below) and then go on a walk around your garden or neighborhood looking and recording your changes.


Change I found:                                Cause:                                     Effect:


Books to read for more information:

  •  Changing Ecosystems by Michael Bright
  • Aliens from Earth: When Animals and Plants Invade other Ecosystems by Mary Batten
  • A Logs Life by Wendy Pfefferfall colors

About Joanne Toft

I am a retired Minneapolis Public School teacher. I walk, garden, care for my Grandson and write. Life is good!
This entry was posted in observation, science notebook and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to How do gardens change? Looking for Cause and Effect

  1. I need to get outside to notice and take note tomorrow. Thanks for the inspiration!


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