How to Garden with Kids and Why It’s Surprisingly Good for All of You

Gardening is a beautiful hobby, but it’s one of those that’s better when you share it. And lucky you, to have small people in your life to be your garden companions. Kids and gardening are a perfect combination because they still think everything is exciting. From covering seeds to pulling onions, they will love most of it. As a bonus, they’ll learn so much without you having to do much over-explaining and teaching.

And the weeding and watering that they don’t love? That will teach them plenty too.

Key Takeaways

  • Fun ideas for gardening with kids.
  • Teaching kids the beauty of working with your hands all while getting some free help weeding and keeping them busy is a win.

1. Let Them Pick Their Favorites

One of the best ways to get kids excited about gardening is to let them choose what they want to grow. When my children were young, I would take them to the local garden center and let them pick out their favorite seed packets. Even if I didn’t personally love it, I still let them give it a try.

Allowing kids to make their own choices gives them a sense of ownership and pride in their garden. They will be more invested in caring for the plants they’ve chosen and will watch them grow and bloom.

Flowers Kids Love to Grow

When it comes to flowers, kids usually love the ones that are bright, colorful, and easy to take care of. So you might want to consider these fun and friendly varieties that they’ll surely love:

Cheerful young girl with sunflower in a lush garden.
  • Sunflowers: With their towering heights and cheerful blooms, sunflowers are a hit with kids of all ages.
  • Zinnias: These vibrant flowers come in a rainbow of colors and are perfect for cutting and arranging bouquets.
  • Marigolds: Not only do marigolds add a pop of color to the garden, but they also help repel pests.
  • Nasturtiums: These edible flowers have a peppery taste and can be used to decorate salads and sandwiches.

Easy Vegetables for Kids to Grow

Growing their vegetables is a fantastic way to spend quality time together while teaching them about the importance of fresh produce and sustainability. Not to mention, it can be incredibly rewarding for kids to watch their plants grow and then harvest the fruits of their labor. Some easy-to-grow vegetables you can try are:

  • Cherry tomatoes: These sweet, bite-sized tomatoes are perfect for snacking and can be grown in containers or gardens.
  • Radishes: Radishes are one of the fastest-growing vegetables, which makes them ideal for impatient little gardeners.
  • Lettuce: Another easy-to-grow vegetable that kids will love. With its quick growth and endless varieties, they’ll see results fast and feel accomplished in no time.
  • Peas: Kids love plucking peas from the vine and popping them straight into their mouths.

2. Involve Kids in Planting the Garden

Planting is one of the most exciting parts of gardening for children, as they see their seeds transform into real, growing plants.

Teach Them How to Plant Seeds

Teaching kids how to plant seeds is a great way to help them understand the basics of gardening. Here are some simple steps to follow:

A blond child in red shirt picking berries from a bush.
  1. Help them read the seed packet to determine how deep to plant the seeds.
  2. Show them how to make a small hole in the soil using their finger or a pencil.
  3. Let them drop the seed into the hole and cover it with soil.
  4. Encourage them to pat the soil down and water it thoroughly and gently.

As they plant, explain how the seed will grow into a plant and how important it is to take care of it by watering it and giving it plenty of sunlight.

Let Them Help Transplant Seedlings

If you’ve started your plants from seed indoors, your kids can also help with transplanting the seedlings into the garden. This is a great opportunity to teach them about the importance of treating plants with care.

Show them how to gently remove the seedling from its container and keep as much soil around the roots as possible. Then, together you can dig a hole in the garden that’s just a little bit larger than the seedling’s root ball. Let your kids place the plant in the hole and help them fill it with soil.

Key Tip:

Explain to the kids how the roots will grow and spread out in the soil and how the plant will continue to grow bigger and stronger with proper care.

3. Make Garden Crafts and Projects Together

Gardening with kids is much more than just planting and caring for plants. It’s also an incredible opportunity to get creative and engage in fun garden crafts and projects together. These activities will keep your little ones engaged and excited about spending time in the garden.

  • Paint and decorate garden markers. All you need are wooden spoons, popsicle sticks, or small rocks, and some paint or markers. Let your little ones decorate their markers with the names of the plants in your garden. They can use acrylic paints, markers, or even stickers to make their markers unique and colorful. Not only will this help them remember what’s growing where, but it also adds a personal touch to your garden.
  • Build a fairy garden. Another fun project you can do with your kids is creating a charming fairy garden. You can use a big container or a quiet corner of your yard to make a miniature garden. Your kids will love designing the garden with tiny plants, pebble paths, and small figurines. Don’t forget to encourage them to use their imagination to create little houses, furniture, and other decorations using natural materials like twigs, acorns, and moss.
  • Make a tee-pee. For a large-scale project, you and your kids can build a twig teepee or bean tent together. All you need are long, sturdy sticks you can gather from your backyard or nearby park. Tie them together at the top to create a frame, then plant climbing beans or other vining plants around the base. As the plants grow, they will cover the frame, creating a cozy and magical space for your kids to play, read, or relax.
  • Create decorative stepping stones. You can also try making decorative stepping stones, which is a great way to add a personal touch to your garden paths. You can use a stepping stone kit or mix your concrete and let your kids press their handprints, mosaic tiles, or other decorations into the wet mixture. Once dry, these stones will be a lasting reminder of the fun times you spent together in the garden.

By incorporating these garden crafts and projects into your routine, you’ll create a beautiful garden and help your kids develop their creativity and imagination.

4. Have Them Help With Maintenance Tasks

While planting and crafting are fun, it’s also important to teach kids about the ongoing maintenance that a garden requires.

At first, my children were hesitant to help with tasks like weeding and watering, thinking they were dull and monotonous chores. And yes, they can be. But that doesn’t mean they can’t help!

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  • Make Weeding a Game Weeding is one of the most important tasks in the garden, but it can also be one of the most tedious. To make it more engaging for kids, turn it into a game. See who can pull the most weeds in a set amount of time, or have them search for “weed treasure” by hiding small toys or treats among the weeds to find as they work.
  • Let Them Help With Watering. You can give them their small watering can or let them use the hose with supervision. It’s a great way to teach them responsibility and care for the plants. Teach them how to check the soil for dryness and gently water the plants at their base, being careful not to overwater or damage the leaves. You can also make watering a science lesson by explaining how plants absorb water through their roots and how it helps them grow and stay healthy.
  • Teach Them How to Tie Up Plants Gently. As plants grow taller, some may need a little support to avoid falling over. But don’t worry, it’s a great opportunity to teach your kids how to gently tie plants to stakes or trellises using soft twine or plant ties. Explain how this helps the plant grow upright and allows air and light to reach all of its leaves.

Involving your kids in these garden maintenance tasks will help them develop a sense of responsibility and ownership over their garden. They’ll also learn valuable skills and help you

5. Harvest Crops and Cook Together

You’ll love this part best, and so will they. Harvesting is the point, and it’s the most fun of all.

Toddler exploring and touching wildflowers in a sunlit field.

Teach Kids When and How to Pick Ripe Produce. Before harvesting, teach your kids how to tell when fruits and vegetables are ripe and ready to pick. Show them how to gently squeeze a tomato to check for firmness or look for a deep, vibrant color on a bell pepper. Let them know that picking produce at its peak ripeness ensures the best flavor and nutrition. When it’s time to harvest, show them how to use garden scissors or pruners to snip fruits and vegetables from the plant carefully. Make sure that they are being careful not to damage the stem or surrounding leaves. Let them fill their baskets with the colorful bounty, and encourage them to sample a few fresh bites in the garden.

Find Kid-Friendly Recipes. Once you’ve gathered your harvest, it’s time to get cooking! Look for simple, kid-friendly recipes that showcase the fresh flavors of your garden produce. Here are some simple, kid-friendly recipes that you might want to try:

  • A colorful salad with mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, and sliced cucumbers
  • Vegetable skewers with cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, and summer squash
  • A simple pasta dish with sautéed garden vegetables and fresh herbs
  • Oven-roasted green beans or carrots with a sprinkle of salt and pepper

As you cook together, let your kids help with age-appropriate tasks like washing produce, tearing lettuce, or stirring ingredients. Explain how the different flavors and textures of the vegetables work together to create a delicious dish.

FAQs

What about activities for really little kids? Like toddlers?

Gardening with toddlers can be a bit more challenging, but it’s still possible and incredibly rewarding. The key is to keep activities simple, short, and engaging. Here are a few ideas:

  • Let them dig in the dirt with small, child-sized tools or their hands.
  • Give them a magnifying glass to explore insects and plant details up close.
  • Help them plant large, easy-to-handle seeds like sunflowers or peas.
  • Create a sensory bin filled with soil, leaves, and other natural materials for them to touch and explore.

Remember, the goal at this age is to foster a sense of wonder and curiosity about the natural world. Don’t worry too much about perfectly planted rows or weed-free beds.

When are they old enough to be weeding and do other real work?

The age at which kids can start helping with more substantial garden tasks will vary depending on their development and maturity level. However, most children are ready to start doing simple chores like weeding or watering by age 5 or 6.

At this age, they can help with tasks like:

  • Pulling weeds (just be sure to teach them how to identify the difference between weeds and plants!)
  • Watering plants with a small watering can or hose
  • Harvesting easy-to-pick crops like cherry tomatoes or snap peas
  • Spreading mulch or compost (with supervision)

As they get older, you can start giving them more responsibility and teaching them more advanced gardening skills. By the time they’re teenagers, they may be able to handle tasks like pruning, fertilizing, or even designing their garden beds.

The most important thing is to match the task to their age and ability level and always to provide plenty of guidance and supervision. With a little patience and encouragement, your kids will be well on their way to becoming confident and capable gardeners.

More on Gardening:

I’ve put together a few gardening guides that I think you might find interesting:

They’ve inspired me, and I hope they’ll inspire you too. Who knows, maybe they’ll be just what you need to start your gardening journey!

Enjoy!

I just want to remind you of one thing: have fun! Gardening isn’t meant to be a tedious task, it should be a fun and rewarding experience for both you and your kids.

Blurred background of a young girl near a garden shed with a focus on vibrant yellow flowers in the foreground.

Some seeds might not sprout, pesky pests might munch on your plants, and the weather might not always cooperate. But let’s view these challenges as opportunities to teach our kids about resilience, problem-solving, and adaptability. When things don’t go as planned, try to keep a positive attitude and focus on the lessons learned.

Don’t forget to celebrate the small victories, like the first ripe tomato or the tallest sunflower, and use them as motivation to keep going. But most importantly, simply enjoy being in the garden together.

How to Garden with Kids and Why It\'s Surprisingly Good for All of You

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