There are many reasons to encourage children to get into gardening. It’s a great way to spend time outdoors, have fun, learn new skills and stay active.
Here’s what you can do to get your little ones into gardening.
Make sure your garden is safe for kids
Before getting your children to help out, make sure that your garden is a safe place, with suitable equipment, tools, fences, gates and paths for children to use.
- Keep sprays and fertilisers out of reach
- Provide safe storage for garden tools
- Secure fences and gates
- Provide shade in summer
Also, ensure children wear the right clothing, which might include a hat and sunscreen in summer or some old clothes, if things are likely to get muddy.
Give them their own plot
If you give children their own space to grow their plants or vegetables, they might be more willing to get involved.
Start small – you can try a container or just a few pots. Your kids’ old sand box could also do the job if they’ve grown out of it. To give their efforts a good chance for success, ensure the plot is in a nice, sunny part of the garden, away from big tree roots.
Get them their own tools
There are plenty of child-sized tools available on the market that will help your budding garden helpers.
Adult tools are likely to be too big or too heavy for them and it’s best to avoid cheaper plastic garden toys that aren’t really designed to be used for gardening.
Help them out
It goes without saying that your kids will need plenty of help, motivation and guidance as they learn to take care of their plot. This means you’ll need to be patient and be prepared to spend as much time as needed answering questions and going over the basics. You might also need to step in to remind them about watering and weeding.
Pick the right plants
Children will often be encouraged by easy and quick results. So, stack the odds in their favour by choosing the right plants. The following are some plants recommended by the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) for growing with kids :
- Easy flowers to grow from seed: such as sunflower, marigolds and poppies
- Sensory plants to play with: include rattling poppy seedheads, furry Stachys byzantina, curry plant, lemon balm and chocolate cosmos
- Quick and tasty edible plants: including swiss chard, radish, lettuce, courgettes and runner beans
- Edible flowers: such as sweet-tasting day lily and peppery nasturtium
Make a song and dance about their gardening
Praise your kids’ efforts. Make a big deal of their progress. Better still, take a photo of their harvest and send it to friends, grandparents and other family members. Knowing their work is appreciated will help keep them happy and motivated.
Choose age appropriate activities
Apart from growing and tending to their own crops, there are plenty of other garden jobs that can be fun for little ones in particular.
Even just watering the garden can be great for young kids. If your watering cans are too big and bulky for them, then you can try making holes in old water bottles to produce a sprinkle of water for them to use more easily.
Ensure jobs are right for their age. Other tasks they may be able to help out with include digging, picking vegetables and fruits when they are ready to harvest, composting, weeding, gathering dried flowers and deadheading flowers.