Have you been thinking of starting a garden with your kids, but aren’t sure where to start? Gardening together is an ideal family project and a perfect way to get the kids outside.
But with the number of gardening options as diverse as nature itself, how can you choose? Think about what young kids like: bright colors, playing with dirt and water, projects they can do themselves, and, well, eating good food.
That was easy: Here are four family friendly gardens to get you started:
Growing veggies is a lot of fun and might even convince your kids to try a few new ones. Brainstorm with your kids about what vegetables they want to grow. Catherine Teevan, author of The Long Island Gardener, recommends pumpkins, watermelons, baby carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumbers, and squash. Tomatoes are also an easy first vegetable because they can be bought as plants and are fun to pick.
If this is your first garden, consider purchasing vegetable plants to get started and then planting one variety from seeds. Plants are more reliable (and quicker to produce veggies), but there is also something magical for a child about picking a vegetable that came from a seed.
Finally, let the whole family get involved in the harvest, but be sure and give the smallest kids the opportunity to pick some veggies themselves. Then spend time going through some kid-friendly recipe books to decide what you want to make with your bounty. Let your kids decide what looks good, and have them help you make it.
Container Flower Garden
If you are short on space, a container flower garden may be the ideal garden for your family. Decide on the best outdoor space for your garden, such as a deck, porch or patio and buy containers that will work for the area. You may want to have both a sun and shade garden to allow for the most variety of plants.
The next step is to fill your pots with high-quality potting soil and then head to the nearest garden center to pick out your plants. If your garden will be in the shade, consider planting inpatients, vinca or snapdragons. Some good bets for sun gardens include petunias and marigolds.
Sara Jenkins-Sutton, co-founder of Topiarius Urban Garden and Floral Design, recommends creating a thematic garden with kids, such as a pizza garden. The best part about this type of garden is that you can brainstorm with your family about what to plant.
Obviously tomatoes. But what kind of tomatoes? Roma? Heirloom varieties? And then there are the herbs. Basil, oregano, maybe some cilantro? What else does your family love on a pizza? Red peppers? Use your imagination. Too bad it takes too long to grow pineapple plants…
Take time as a family to check out the garden every few days and see what is now sprouting. Chances are your kids won’t be able to contain their excitement when they see what’s coming up through the soil. And once the garden is ready, plan a special family night to make and enjoy your pizza bounty together.
Kids love sunflowers and they love to grow them even more. Sunflower gardens are a low-maintenance and high impact way to introduce your children to gardening. Find an area in your yard that gets direct sunlight and till the area. Because the height of the flowers can vary greatly between sunflower varieties, be sure to find the right sunflowers for your area. Plant the seeds the recommended space apart.
After you have the garden planted, come up with a schedule of tasks that need to be done and give each family member a job. You can either take turns watering and weeding or do it together as a project. Be sure to take photos of your sunflowers at the various stages of your garden.
No matter which garden you decide to dig into, the most important part is to enjoy the time with your kids and to make the experience a fun one for everyone. Who knows? You might just create a budding lifelong gardener with one of these projects.
By Jennifer Gregory