Gardening is a wonderful hobby for children to enjoy and one which can stay with them for a lifetime. Not only does it get them outdoors into the fresh air but it’s also a great opportunity to learn about plants and nature.
The key to encouraging children into the garden is to make the experience fun, rather than a chore. Here are our top tips for getting children interested in gardening.
Take a Trip to the Garden Centre
Garden centres and plant nurseries are a great place for kids to visit. They will love seeing all the different plants and accessories available so take them with you when you next go on a shopping trip and let them choose their own packets of seeds or plant pots.
Little Green Fingers
Children love getting messy and the garden is a great place to get grubby while having fun. Give kids their own child-friendly tools and mini watering can and let them get on with it. Sure, they may get a little muddy but that’s all part of the fun.
To be honest, most plants are fascinating for little ones but there are some which are particularly well suited to children’s gardening projects such as those with interesting shapes and colours or those that grow quickly. Sunflowers are always a big hit and you can even create a competition to see who can grow the tallest sunflower.
Quick growing fruit and vegetables, such as tomatoes, radishes and strawberries are also a favourite as children can pick them and eat them straight from the garden.
Growing plants from seed is especially rewarding for a child. They can plant the seeds themselves, water them and watch them grow into seedlings before they sow them in their own little garden.
Gardening with Older Children
When older children or teenagers show an interest in gardening, why not let them redesign a section of the garden for themselves. They will love having the freedom to choose their own plants and if it goes well, you’ll have an enthusiastic pair of hands to help you with the rest of your plot.
Not just Plants
There are lots of projects in the garden that children will enjoy, other than planting and weeding. You could help them build a scarecrow, create their own nest box or build a bug house. There are lots of projects online so let kids do their own research before helping them complete their chosen task.
Artistic children may enjoy drawing plants or insects found in the garden or they could create a garden scrapbook and fill it with pressed flowers and photographs of their gardening achievements throughout the year.
Take a look on the BBC website for more children’s gardening projects ideas
Plants and Areas that Attract Wildlife
The garden is nature’s classroom and contains much more than just plants. Let your children help you choose plants to encourage birds, butterflies, bees and other insects to visit. They will love waiting to see what they can spot.
Put a bird feeder and bird bath in your garden to bring in the birds and the squirrels. It’s always a good idea to have one squirrel-proof bird feeder and one just for the squirrels.
If your children are old enough and you have space, you could consider creating a pond in the garden to attract frogs, newts, dragonflies and other wildlife. Always make sure your pond is safe for kids by ensuring they cannot fall in and never leave children unattended near a pond.
The children can build a log pile with leaf matter in a quiet, shady part of the garden to encourage hedgehogs, frogs and other creatures to come and visit and even hibernate.
Most children are fascinated with worms, so why not let them help you build a worm farm? ‘Worm wee’, as it’s affectionately called, is one of the best natural fertilisers for the garden and it is so easy and cheap to collect. Worm farms are also a great way of getting rid of organic waste from the kitchen.
Many companies produce worm farm kits but you can make your own very easily. Worm farms use compost worms which eat their own weight in food each day, producing the valuable waste which makes every garden look good.
The most important thing when gardening with children is to make sure you are all having fun.
We would love to hear about your gardening experiences with your children. Please use the comment box below to share your gardening triumphs and also for any other comments you may have.