With warmer weather on the way, now is a great time to find creative ways to get your kiddos outside. One way is gardening with kids and even creating a kid-size garden for everyone to enjoy for months ahead. Don’t worry, the garden’s size doesn’t matter as long as you all are having fun together. Here are five ways to get you started making memories in the garden.
Where Does Your Garden Grow?
For many young kids, the idea of a large garden can be overwhelming. One of the best ways to get them involved is to create a special garden just for them. Gardening with kids doesn’t require making a new garden plot in your yard but can be much simpler.
Take a walk around your yard together to spot the perfect location for your garden. It could be a few pots gathered together on your back porch, a small raised garden bed in your backyard, or simply a few little pots along your front walk. Keep in mind when gardening with kids, you want to be sure they can reach each plant, especially if you want your child to be responsible for the plants.
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HINT: The more you get your kids involved in the planning process, the more excited they’ll be to help see it grow. You can ask for their thoughts on the size of pots to get or where the best location may be for the sun to reach their plants. These are great opportunities to teach about the growing process.
Deciding What to Plant
After you decide the best location in your yard to grow plants, now comes the fun part, deciding what to plant. Before making your child’s wish list though, be sure to consider the needs of plants such as water, sun, and depth of dirt needed in comparison to what your outdoor space can offer. When gardening with kids, it may be best to offer limited choices that you know have the best chance at thriving no matter what type of garden you plant.
There are all different types of gardens and you all can pick which type of garden plants you want. Will you plant all flowers to attract butterflies? Will you plant berries to be able to enjoy throughout the summer? Maybe a herb garden would be a fun way to start. Keep in mind, your child may not know what exactly they want to plant based on your descriptions. It may be helpful to show them pictures or better yet, go for an exploring shopping trip!
HINT: Kids like instant gratification so think about seeds that germinate quickly. Also, think about plants that need little maintenance besides water and feeding. Gardening with kids requires you to think like a kid sometimes!
Let’s Go Shopping
Shopping together can be a great opportunity to teach your kids about different plants and how they each have different needs. By the time you go shopping, you have decided the type of garden you will be planting. But how do you help narrow down the choices for your child? Sometimes, too many options may be overwhelming when gardening with kids. It is best to think like a kid again.
Kids are sensory seeking. They like to touch, smell, and see the different colors. Looking at flowers in person can help a younger child decide which ones they are drawn to and would like to see in their garden. Smelling the different types of herbs could also be a fun way to pick plants for an herb garden. What better way to enjoy gardening with kids than to plan your garden around the senses!
Here are a few suggestions for beginner plants when gardening with kids, especially for the younger kids.
- Sweet Peas
- Cherry Tomatoes
- Lettuce (try for a mesclun mix)
As you are out shopping, think of other things that may make tending your child’s plants a little easier for them. There are now many options for child-sized garden gloves, tools, and even watering cans.
HINT: Keep in mind, you want your child to be able to take care of the flowers or plants they set out so large plants & bushes may not be best for beginners. Low and simple to maintain plants are the ideal place to start when gardening with kids.
Read More: The Best Flowers for Spring Gardens
Keep Them Interested
You have bought the containers, dirt, and plants or seeds but now what? It’s time to help guide your child in planting their garden by saying yes, go play in the dirt! Let them fill each container or use appropriate kid-size garden tools to get the areas ready for their plants or seeds.
Gardening with kids creates lots of opportunities to share an educational lesson. The planting process is another teachable moment in being gentle with the flowers or counting as you place the seeds. But wait, how do you keep them interested after the planting is complete?
Keeping kids involved really depends on the type of garden you have decided to plant. Here are a few options to help get you brainstorming ways to keep your kids interested:
- Make a daily checklist for what your child’s garden will need that is simple for them to follow. This can include watering, checking for bugs, pulling any weeds, or even harvesting. By having them water their own flowers, it helps keep them engaged.
- If you have decided to plant berries, for example, start looking for recipes for berry muffins or homemade popsicles to use your fresh-picked berries. Creating a list of tasty food options is a fun way to look forward to harvesting your garden.
- For more educational tips when gardening with kids, think about measuring the growth of your seeds and plotting out your data. If you have chosen a variety of different colored flowers, make a bar graph of the colors your child can identify.
- While you are waiting for your plants to grow or flower, think of ways you can personalize the area. Maybe plant a few rocks to add pops of color or design a homemade sign to announce your child’s garden.
Reap the Rewards
Gardening with kids can be such a rewarding experience for parents and children alike! It does take time and commitment to reap the rewards but it will be well worth it. Gardening can be an opportunity to support your child’s development. It teaches them an understanding of plants and flowers and their importance in our daily life. Gardening also teaches your child responsibility in taking care of their plants.
To help celebrate the results of your child’s dedication to their garden, find ways to enjoy the success together. Maybe you have a special vase that is just for your child’s fresh-cut flowers to enjoy inside your home. You can also share your flowers or fresh vegetable harvest with your neighbors. Don’t forget to taste some of the recipes you picked out to incorporate vegetables from your garden.
Have fun with the garden! It is a great opportunity to learn together and see how tender loving care can bring food or even flowers to your table. Better yet, plan a family night ice cream bar and bring your own toppings! Fresh berries or a side of mint is a great way to celebrate your time gardening with kids. Sometimes though, the best moments are found just sitting together watching the butterflies visiting the flowers.
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