Garden season is right around the corner, and I couldn’t be more excited! We have already been getting some work done outside, but I can’t wait until everything is in full bloom this summer. Gardening for us is a family event, so everybody gets involved! Don’t get me wrong- I love having the kids involved in what we do here on the homestead, but let’s keep it real- gardening with kids can be difficult. Spilled seeds, damaged seedlings, spraying the hose every five seconds..I’m sure you get the picture. So, how do we make gardening enjoyable for the entire family? Let me share these simple, practical tips on gardening with kids.
Tips for Gardening with Kids
- Have reasonable expectations. This is a big one! Kids (especially little ones) are not going to be perfect gardeners. They’re going to step on your plants, put too many seeds in a hole, and accidentally destroy a few seedlings. By adjusting your expectations, you will be ready for when these things happen! Remind yourself that this is a learning experience for them, and with time, their skills and ability to be more careful while working in the garden will improve!
- Allow them to help plan. Get the kids involved in what you’re going to plant! Our kids love flipping through seed catalogs looking at all the different plants available. They typically select one or two things they’d like to grow themselves, and they have an area that they can plant however they choose. Giving them some control over certain parts of the garden helps them feel like they are contributing to our gardens.
- Have extra seeds and transplants on hand. Let’s just face it- accidents are going to happen, especially if you’re gardening with little ones. Seeds are bound to be spilled, and fragile seedlings may accidentally be crushed. Be prepared for this to happen by having extra seeds and transplants ready. That way, if something does go wrong, you have stilll have enough to get your garden planted. As they get older and have more practice, children will be more careful doing garden tasks that require a more delicate touch.
- Give them age appropriate tasks. Think about tasks that are simple for children, and let them go for it! One task our children love is watering plants. What kid doesn’t love to spray the hose? Children can help weed the garden space (as long as they know what is a weed- just ask my kids who thought their strawberry plants were weeds!), fill seed starting trays, drop seeds into holes, harvest vegetables, or plant transplants into their holes. There are so many things that children of any age can help with in the garden. Find something your child enjoys, and take the time to let them complete that task. It might take longer than if you did it yourself, but your children are learning an incredibly valuable skill!
- Allow them to come and go as they please- don’t force them. Our children trickle in and out of the garden as we work, and that is totally fine! They have plenty of other things to do and explore in our yard, so we never force them to stay and work in the garden. Gardening is something we want them to enjoy, so if we force them to stay and participate, they may grow to dislike gardening. I want to nurture their love of gardening while they are young so they continue to love it as they get older.
- Provide them with their own space. Our children have their own long row in our main garden. Here, they can plant whatever they decided to grow that year, plus any extras that they’d like to stick in. Their row last year was an interesting mish-mash of all different plants, but they loved it. It was exciting for them to see their plants growing in their own space. Their zinnias were much better than mine…maybe I need to let them plant mine this year!
- Let them get dirty! This is no time to worry about how dirty your children are getting. When you’re gardening with kids, there is bound to be a mess! They will be filthy at the end of the day if they are anything like my kids, but it is so worth it! They are making childhood memories that they will always cherish and learning an important skill. Just tell yourself what I always say about all the dirt: It’s like a vitamin!
Being in the garden with your kids doesn’t have to be complicated or fussy. Expect that it won’t always be perfect, and let the kids get involved and dirty! Do you have any tips for gardening with kids? Do you have any memories of gardening as a child? I’d love to hear from you! Share below in the comments, and don’t forget to sign up for updates from us in the future!