Family Garden Ideas
Easy family garden ideas to keep the children happy
If you like gardening, the chances are the seed was sown when you were a child. Here are some family garden ideas to encourage the next generation of gardeners!
Children in the garden
Children are natural explorers and your garden is the perfect place, no matter how small, to encourage that natural instinct. Gardens can provide important spaces for a child to develop and learn and there are many physical as well as psychological health benefits to children while exploring a natural environment. If children are familiar with outdoor play at a young age this trend may well continue when they are older.
I don’t think it’s necessary to have a massive garden or an allotment to enjoy gardening. In fact, if you’re just starting out, it’s often better to stick to a small area, and, it doesn’t cost the earth. If you grow fruit and vegetables you will find that you are saving money – just think how much the organic supermarket stuff costs, and imagine how well it will boost your green credentials – you will be helping in a very practical way, to save the earth.
Try growing herbs
A really simple way to get started is to take your child to the local garden centre and buy small pots of herbs – sage, rosemary, parsley, mint, thyme and chives are readily available in the spring and very easy to grow. Just plant them into a slightly larger container and encourage your child to smell and feel them and even eat them too!
Try growing salads
Salad crops can be sown throughout the growing season. They are best grown in succession, which means not sowing the seeds all at once but a few at a time from early spring onwards. Try sowing carrot seeds carrots directly into the ground and thin out when the shoots appear in a few weeks’ time – a great way to encourage your child to eat healthily!
Family garden ideas – sensory gardens
Many of our schools have sensory gardens so your child may be one step ahead of you here. The idea is to encourage children to use their senses to explore outdoors. There are a huge variety of plants that lend themselves to sensory gardens, such as scented Geraniums (also known as Pelargoniums.) They have a beautiful, aromatic foliage making them unique and special for little hands to rub. Chocolate Cosmos, with vivid, maroon flowers which give off a chocolate/ vanilla scent is usually a big hit with kids. And Lavender, great for encouraging bees into the garden, is beautifully scented with flowers that can be cut and dried for indoor decorations. If you need some relaxing during the school holidays, grow fragrant lemon balm to use for making a calming, restorative tea while keeping an eye on your little one playing!
Garden bugs bees and birds – family garden ideas to attract insects
Apart from obviously growing things, gardens can be great places for children to explore, there are the bugs, slugs and wiggly worms just waiting to be examined and poked about by little fingers… yes, I know, yuck! You can encourage wildlife by choosing the plants you grow with this in mind. For example, a Buddleia will attract bees and butterflies in their hundreds, these insects will then pollinate your flowers, which will help you get good crop of fruit and vegetables. Let’s not overlook the garden birds that can easily be encouraged with feeders and children can learn to identify all the different types of flying visitors over the summer.
Eating in the garden and from the garden!
I find food tastes better outside so preparing a special picnic and eating it in the garden together can be a treat for little ones. Many soft fruits are easy to grow and are often a good introduction for children to gardening. There’s something incredibly satisfying about producing a bowl of homegrown raspberries for a simple desert. Autumn raspberries such as ‘Autumn Bliss’ produce heavy crops of large, delicious berries from August until the first frosts and are very easy to grow as they require little support. Even if you have a tiny garden, there’s always space for a few of the little, deliciously flavoured, alpine strawberry plants – great fun for children to find and pick at a garden party.