Children’s Garden- Starting a Garden for Children

A children’s garden can turn children into gardeners while helping them appreciate nature and learn to love different foods. Making a garden for children is easy. Find facts, information, and tips to help children start their own garden, choose plants, practice garden safety, and other related topics. Studies have shown that children who experience growing food in a garden will eat more of the types of food they plant because they grew it themselves. Getting children interested in gardening can be just as pleasing and rewarding as helping them in other ways of development.

"Children's Garden"

Fort Ticonderoga features a children's garden

Children’s Garden Decision Making- To Share, Divide, or Have their own

To get started, you will need to decide if you want to allow the children to have free reign of the whole garden, or a portion of the garden that can be set aside for their own use. I would suggest, as I have done, to give them part of the garden so they can call it their own. Consideration should be given to the age of the children and how well behaved the children are.

Sharing a Garden

If you decide that none of the garden is out of bounds to them, you must expect some damage to plants just by the fact that they will be interacting within the garden boundary. It would not be an enjoyable experience for either one of you if you had to be constantly shouting at them. Regardless of the behavior of your own children, you will find that they will want to show their friends everything they planted and are growing. This may create a problem if their friends are not respectful of plants or property.

Having A Children's Garden of their own

A big advantage of giving the children an area of their own is that when they are young you can fence then in and keep an eye on them at the same time. You should choose an area close to the house within sight of the kitchen window for peace of mind. This is, of course, if you are not outdoors with them, which most of you will be. They can also have their own special area of the yard were you can have their play toys and equipment. You can even have this a fenced in area where they can play safely, especially while you are mowing and working outdoors yourself.

Make Gardening Interesting for Children

Gardening has to be made interesting for children, with no early setbacks. A good way to do this is to encourage them to plant and grow some foods or type of food that they like. Quick-growing food crops include sugar snap peas, radishes, squash, early carrots, lettuce, and best of all, strawberries. Plants that mature quickly are also satisfying. Sunflowers from seeds are great fun as they will reach great heights of up to 8’ and can also be dwarf varieties with large flowerheads. Sunflower seeds can be roasted and eaten.

"Plants for Children's Garden"

Choose fast-growing Plants

Propagation and Children's Garden Design

Propagation has always interested children, especially if they can see results quickly. Sowing seeds, planting, and taking cuttings will all hold their attention if growing happens like magic. Hebes, especially ‘Purple Queen’, and catnip will root like weeds. Cuttings will form small plants in about four weeks, grown outdoors in summer in a sandy soil, using cut-down plastic drink bottles.

The garden design can be unique, or traditional. You  may choose to form a unique shape for the vegetable or flower bed itself. You can do this by forming an outline of a character, or even geometric shapes, or rows of various colored flowers. Another idea, is to let them plant seeds in a different manner than in straight rows. Creative plantings can be decided on to help build initial enthusiasm while planning the garden. Such ideas as planting seeds to form letters, or even the child’s name, are great ideas that they will love.

*Tip- Let your children have their own garden tools to use and care for. Try to choose children's garden tools that are sized for easy use. They are usually made of plastic instead of heavy metal.

"Children's Fenced Garden"

Children's Gardens may be fenced in for safety

Starting Garden for Young Gardeners

Start young gardeners off with an area of ground that won’t appear enormous to them, but will be large enough to grow a variety of plants. A 6’ square plot is an ideal size. Make sure it is free of any perennial weeds, and cultivate the soil to leave it in a condition to be worked with small hand tools.

*Tip- Pumpkins are a lot of fun to grow from seeds. If they are sown in May, they will be ready for Halloween. The way to produce large fruit is to grow the plant on a raised bed that drains freely. Make sure it has lots of compost and only attempt to let one pumpkin stays on each plant to grow to maturity.

*Tip- Some children may prefer to have their own flower bed instead of a vegetable garden. Either one will be of benefit to children. Instead of eating vegetables, they can pick their own flowers or just leave them on the stem to admire.

Easy Flowering Plants for a Children’s Garden

  • Nasturtium,
  • Primrose
  • Snowdrop
  • Strawberry
  • Sweet pea
  • Petunias
  • Dianthus

Children’s Garden Safety

  • Don’t allow children to handle sharp tools.
  • Don’t allow children anywhere near mechanical or electrical equipment.
  • Don’t use any chemicals in the children’s garden.
  • Don’t allow pets in the children’s garden in case they use it as a sandbox.
  • Don’t grow poisonous plants or plants that can cause a skin allergy.
  • Do insist that children wash their hands after working in the garden.
  • Make sure the soil is free of broken glass and nails and remove any stones larger than 2 inches across.

Here are only some of the many tools made especially for young gardeners:

Ages 5+

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