Plant a Garden with Kids

Do you have a little spot of dirt for your kids to garden in? If not, today I’d like to challenge you to think about your outdoor spaces and see if you can come up with a spot that’s just for the kids. It can be anything from a large plot to a couple of planters.

Children learn through hands-on experiences, and this project will enable them to spend time outdoors, design their own garden, and make a deep connection with plants and nature.

If you live in the Northern hemisphere, there’s a good chance that you’ve been knee-deep in dirt at some point in the past month. We have a small garden that’s keeping us busy with our share of vegetable planting, soil tilling, and outdoor beautifying.

In the process of involving my kids in all my garden projects, they’ve grown their own fascination for dirt, creepy crawlies, plants, roots, and flowers. When my neighbor suggested that we turn a sad and dusty little spot of land between our houses into a kids’ garden, I knew this would be a fun project for us.

We started out with a chat about the dirt patch, and I shared that she would have the opportunity to design her own garden. We talked a bit about our vision and she couldn’t wait to get to the garden store.

I gave her a limit of fifteen plans, and she had to make some choices.

When she spotted these technicolor cacti, she decided that she wanted a section of the garden to be a cactus garden. Not exactly kid-friendly, but it’s what she wanted. And I have to agree that these little plants are spectacular. We decided to put them into a planter on the side of the garden.

kids in the garden

I outlined the space with some bricks that remained from a neighbor’s garden excavation. Score. We then filled the space with three bags of garden soil (2 cubic feet each).

My Father-in-law bought my kids a little kid rake last summer, and it was perfect for this project. We also picked up some new gardening gloves, which I think go a long way for generating enthusiasm for a project like this.

Oh, and since it was a hot day and water would be involved (at some point), my kids insisted on the bathing suits. Love it.

kids in the garden

kids in the garden

Nutmeg chose the big pavers to line a path in her garden.

kids in the garden

She decided on the direction of the path and I helped her set them into the dirt.

kids in the garden

And then she decided where her flowers would go. I mostly dug the holes, just to make sure they were deep enough. Little Rainbow wasn’t such a big help, but she hung out, wore her new garden gloves, and talked about the dirt and flowers. Success all around.

So, what do you think? Do you have a little spot of land or a few planters you can set aside for your child to dig in, design, and call their own?

Inspiration


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Comments

  1. says

    Love the girls gardening in their bathing suits! I have photos of of all of my little ones planting in their swimsuits in the summer.

    I remember getting to totally plant my own flower garden when I was younger. I did it in the shape of a heart. Such a wonderful experience. We don’t have as much yard in this house as we are used to so my Dad built us a wooden large stand with drainage to plant herbs and veggies in this year so we have our own “garden”. Our big planting day is Saturday. So fun!

    • rachelle says

      How did your planting day go? I love the image of you planting a heart-shaped garden! Kids come up with the best ideas, and it’s great to hear that you remember it to this day.

  2. says

    oh I love the little path through the middle!

    My kids all chose a plant for the big pots out front of our house last weekend… can’t wait till we are choosing seeds from the spring catalog! Enjoy your glorious weather and your gardening… such an important thing for kids to do!

    • rachelle says

      Now that my kids are getting older and beginning to understand how planting works, I think they’d get a lot out of picking out seeds. I’ll have to give that a go in the Spring. The path helps keep the mud in its place — she really values that element!

  3. says

    My 7 year old always wants the succulents, too, which luckily thrive here in SoCal. I think it’s wonderful to give kids their own little space in the family backyard. That space may change as they grow & change interests, but it will remain special to them. Thanks for the shout out!

    • rachelle says

      I love giving you shout-outs, Debi — your blog is fantastic. I look forward to seeing how their garden plots change as they get older, too.

  4. says

    Aw, I love the swim suits, especially the tutu. Gardening is such fun, and there are so many experiences. Playing in the dirt, smelling all the aromas, and then, the pride of growing something. I love the path your daughter designed too! :)

    • rachelle says

      Thanks so much, Crystal. I could spend hours outside and I hope that my kids grow to feel the same way.

  5. says

    Great project for the little ones. :) I remember my parents getting me and my sister into gardening when we were little – had a section of garden and got to plant just what we wanted, though didn’t manage to maintain it very well…

    • rachelle says

      Well, we’ll see how this one goes, Simon. It’s not in an irrigated area of the garden and it may require more maintenance than the kids are willing to give it. Fingers crossed!

  6. says

    Great post. C and I have always gardened together since the very beginning. Our first zucchini came up recently. She keeps asking me to look at it each day. She has a lot of pride in our gardening….it rubs off on her……just like my parents love of gardening rubbed off on me. I’ve always planned to do a post on gardening and maybe you have inspired me to do the same.
    Beautiful Cactuses. My father has always loved cactuses and even has grown prickly pear kind (I think) outside even in Ohio

    • rachelle says

      You know what’s funny, because you’ve written about so many outdoor art-related things, I feel like you’ve done something about the garden. No? I’d love to read what you have to say on this topic! And I can’t believe your dad has luck growing cacti in Ohio!! Amazing.

  7. says

    I love the idea of bringing gardening projects home to get kids outdoors and enjoying hands-on nature. Also, the pink tutu is adorbs ^_^.

    As a teacher, I’ve begun a blog on teaching creativity, and recently I wrote a post about the connection to the outdoors and divergent thinking. What I learned from scientific research was that taking kids out into natural settings, even if it is a park or garden, is actually a means to increase creativity. A nice bonus to a day out with fantastic pink cactus!

    Thank you for a vibrant example. If you’re interested, you can check out my article on nature and creativity here:

    http://innovationrogue.wordpress.com/2012/06/18/nature-and-the-creative-brain/

    • rachelle says

      That’s so awesome, Rei! Congrats on the new blog…it looks great! Given your d. school affiliation, we may know some of the same people!

  8. Bethany says

    Oh the bathing suits and Little Rainbows delicious little legs! Looks like she is a very good supervisor! What a great project. Our TIC partners have 2 kids who are roughly the same age as my 2 kids (who look to be about the ages of your kids)…we’ve been trying to think of good summer projects…we have a very small outdoor space. We might be able to do some container gardening. Thank you for the inspiration!

    • rachelle says

      Oh, I’m so happy to hear that this might inspire you to do something similar in your outdoor space. Also, check out Go Explore Nature’s Outdoor Play Space (link above) for less planting and more dirt/digging…another great approach.

  9. M Wall says

    My son visits his grandparents weekly, one week they put some tomato plants in two barrels. He loved watching them grow each week (the time in between visits made the growth really visible). And waiting for the green fruit to turn red was a good lesson in patience. I am pretty impressed with just how many tomatoes 6 plants have produced! We have a bounty of cherry and heirloom, and I had forgotten how good real tomatoes taste. My son has enjoyed taking little bags of his harvest to his teachers and friend’s mothers. And while he HASN’T ACTUALLY EATEN ONE YET, he has licked a few, which I consider progress! So even if you only have a small space, give it a try!

    • rachelle says

      I know exactly what you’re saying. We have two tomato plants (in planters) and the tomatoes are just turning yellow. N noticed that this morning and got so excited. It’s been weeks of watching them grow and it’s a great lesson in patience! I bet your son will be eating those tomatoes by the end of summer! And you’re right — you don’t need a lot of space to make this work.

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