5 Ways to Garden Together as a Family

comments (8) August 31st, 2015

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ChrisMcLaughlin Chris McLaughlin, contributor
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Kids and gardens are a natural partnership partly because its about the outdoors and partly because things are always changing in the garden. 
Photo by Franklin Park Library under the Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0.
Here are some kid-friendly ideas to get you to play in the dirt as a family.
Photo by Woodleywonderworks under the Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0.
Kids and gardens are a natural partnership partly because its about the outdoors and partly because things are always changing in the garden. 
Photo by Franklin Park Library under the Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0.Click To Enlarge

Kids and gardens are a natural partnership partly because it's about the outdoors and partly because things are always changing in the garden. 

Photo by Franklin Park Library under the Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0.


Kids and gardens are a natural partnership partly because it's about the outdoors and partly because things are always changing in the garden. Gardening as a family let's you create lasting memories and offers more opportunities to connect with one another.

But gardening with your kids and grandkids has some other advantages that you may not have considered. It provides natural lessons in math, science, observation, problem-solving, record keeping, responsibility, self-sufficiency, community, accomplishment and pride.Here are some kid-friendly ideas to get you playing in the dirt as a family.

1. Let every family member in on the garden plans from the very beginning.

Have your kids draw their own blueprint of what a garden should look like. Then be sure to incorporate an element or two from everyone's designs or plant ideas. Let kids choose the plants -- sounds rather unstructured, right? Good. Your kids get structure all day long form school, to homework, to bedtime routines. Allow them to wander through the nursery and buy those that captivate them.

You could even let go of the rein almost entirely and let them come up with a garden design that's all theirs. Very young children can begin with a container garden. While older kids can be given a space of their own, -- no matter how small. From the design to the plants; let them make the decisions on what is planted in their own garden plot. Parents or other adults can guide them towards plants that are safe, as well as those that have the same general growing requirements.

2. Plant a kid-friendly garden.

While planning your flower or vegetable garden, don't forget to add those plants that are particularly attractive to kids. Kids love plants that that are great to touch such as Lamb's Ears (Stachys byzantina), and plants that smell good such as cinnamon basil or scented geraniums.

Radishes are a kid favorite because they mature with amazing speed for a quick harvest. And you can't miss with planting fresh strawberries. Plants that grow tall as giants ('Mammoth' sunflowers) and those that stay very small ('Teddy Bear' sunflowers) or those that grow like giants are amazing plants for kids.

Pumpkins fill the bill for many of these areas. For instance, "Atlantic Giant" are those grown to hit monstrous world records. If you plant the a large pumpkin variety, the nightly growth is amazing. So be sure to go out to the garden and measure them every day.

On the other end of the spectrum, "Baby Jack" and the white "Boo" are perfect for the wee ones to carry. Kids can scratch their name into the flesh of a pumpkins while it's young and as the pumpkin matures, the skin heals a scar to create a uniquely personal pumpkin.

Sunflowers offer the same drastic measurements. Giant sunflowers such as "Russian Mammoth" grow to a towering 12 feet tall and their leaves are as big as an adult's head! Young children can get face-to-face with the short, fluffy variety "Teddy Bear".

3. Plant a kid's theme garden.

This is one of the best ways to get kids into the garden and make it uniquely theirs. Help them plant a garden with a theme that they can relate to such as a chocolate or fairy garden. Garden theme possibilities are endless. Ask your kids for their ideas.

Chocolate garden ideas include plants that have just look like chocolate (Dahlia 'Black Beauty') or literally smell like chocolate such as chocolate cosmos, chocolate mint, and chocolate-scented geraniums.

Fairy gardens can be created with *tiny-leaved groundcovers and plants with teeny flowers. Don't forget to create little doors at the base of trees for fairy homes.

4. Let kids harvest home-grown produce.

Whether your family has planted a vegetables, fruit or flowers let the kids do the harvesting. It's one of the greatest pleasures of the garden. Plus, harvesting is great fun. Let them dig for the potatoes (hidden treasure), pull up the carrots (it never fails to surprise), and pick the blueberries (if you trust they'll come back with them).

5. Let them cook or prepare the bounty. 

In the kitchen, let them do the washing and help with preparation. Many a gardener has found that when kids help grow and harvest vegetables, they have a tendency to eat them, too. If your kids are quite young, they can help wash and snap the green beans as opposed to letting them actually cook.

More Kid Gardening Fun

You should most definitely invest in a critter ID guide. Grown-ups and kids alike can name a bug or creature in the garden that fascinates them. Wildlife ID guides or cards will not only give a name to bug faces, but explain what that critter's role is in the garden.

Last, don't forget to let them dig, scoop, and fill things so that they can play in the mud, create cities, and bug forts. Imaginations are messy -- do your best to encourage it.

*Before letting young children handle plants, do some research and look at several lists to be certain that they are safe and non-toxic. The University of California's Safe and Toxic Garden Plants is just one of many possible lists. 


posted in: kids gardening, family gardens

Comments (8)

TerryRhodes writes: Interesting
Posted: 3:40 am on March 30th
RuchikaaKale writes: What a cute idea!! i like it
Posted: 3:01 am on February 26th
ChristoperCoper writes: It's the perfect home décor
Posted: 2:45 am on February 18th
FitoorsRey writes: Sweet! The feel, moment and light is perfectly done!

Posted: 5:31 am on February 16th
RegunRoy writes: Best of Best really well said
Posted: 2:07 am on January 26th
ElisaDixon writes: Thanks for share great tips
Posted: 1:48 am on January 26th
SteveSRafter writes: Nice information...
Posted: 12:08 am on November 16th
PippaClark writes: Thanks for sharing these tips. Planting a kid's theme garden sounds like fun!
Posted: 8:12 am on September 1st
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