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Kids Gardening Projects

Updated on June 19, 2013

White House Garden

First Lady Michelle Obama working on the White House garden with a few kids
First Lady Michelle Obama working on the White House garden with a few kids | Source

Garden Projects for Kids

Gardening is a great hobby for some and a way of helping to control your food budget for others, it all depends on what kind of garden you want to have and maintain.

For those who garden as a hobby you get the flexibility to create whatever you want. It can be your favorite flowers, something cultural (I’ll get into that possibility later) or a space dedicated to a specific local favorite. The beauty of doing your own kind of garden is that you can make it as simple or as elaborate as you want to. There are no restrictions because there aren’t any rules, as long as you obey your local zoning ordinances.

A popular garden for many people is a vegetable one. Growing something that you and your family can eat is very rewarding. It is also a nice bonus to be able to control how your food is controlled, especially if you are concerned about pesticides and contamination.

Gardens will take some work, and some muscle, but working on one doesn’t have to be limited to the adults, kids can get involved as well. The key to getting successful contributions from the little ones is to know what they are capable of doing and trying to keep in fun and enjoyable. Kids will quickly tire if something is boring or too difficult for them to do.

Fortunately there are numerous options for youngsters to participate in a garden project on their own or as part of a team.

Plants for Kids

Planting is one of the easiest and most straightforward things for kids to do. All they have to do is dig a hole, put the plant in the hole, move dirt back to cover the hole and then water. I don’t want to oversimplify this process, because it takes a little bit more to grow a plant, but for little kids these steps are a perfect way for them to contribute to a garden. The steps aren’t overly complicated and are relatively short, a great combination for anyone with a short attention span.

For parents I would advise a little bit of homework before you cut a child loose on doing this. Know ahead of time what plants will grow in the area that they are going to be planting them and direct them accordingly at the nursery or home improvement store. A conflict can be easily avoided if they don’t see that one great plant only to have you say it can’t be planted where they want it to go.

Don’t believe me? Good luck explaining to a five year old that you can’t plant the one they picked in full sun because it requires mostly shade and let me know how that goes.

Gardens

If you garden at home do you encourage your kids to participate?

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Raised bed Gardening

Our vegetable garden has a few raised beds that we built to help keep things where we wanted and to organize the entire space a little bit better. Our daughter has requested that we build one just for her that she alone has complete control over. She wants to pick what goes in it and she wants to take care of it. My wife and I have always encouraged independence from both of our kids so we will gladly build a bed just for her ideas; I might even let her fill it up with dirt and manure but I haven’t decided yet if I will give her that privilege.

If your child has a similar request, or wishes, do what you can to grant it. These small things we do for our kids can have a very long lasting, and positive, effect on them. A great example of this was many years ago our daughter would occasionally come into the kitchen while I was getting ready for work early in the morning. Sometimes I would be eating breakfast and I would make her a small serving of whatever I was eating. After we both finished I would escort her back to bed and I would go to work. She still talks about it once in a while now that she is a teenager; she was only four or five when we shared our little breakfasts together.

Japanese Garden Design

A few years ago we volunteered to take in a Japanese exchange student for her sophomore year here in the US. We were very nervous about being responsible for someone else’s child, especially my wife.

We learned a ton from Asuka and I still keep in touch with her through Facebook now that she is a young woman.

Spending this year with her installed in us a taste for certain Japanese foods and really left a lasting impression with our daughter, probably since they shared a room.

Being exposed to her culture made us really appreciate how beautiful a local Japanese Garden was. We had been there before for my brother’s wedding and to have some family photos taken but having Asuka with us it hit deeper than it had before.

Our story might be a little bit unique but my point is to not be afraid to let your kids do a cultural garden if they want to try. Their inspiration can be from an exchange student or maybe their own lineage. If their ancestors came from a specific country and they want to follow it, to make something to recreate that history, let them go for it.

Japanese Garden Portland

Japanese Garden in Portland, Oregon.
Japanese Garden in Portland, Oregon. | Source

Age Appropriate Chore

As parents we have to once in a while let our kids tackle something to let them learn how things get done. They might not always be successful but that is unfortunately a part of life and a difficult thing for parents to have to endure.

No one likes to see their child struggle with something but a garden project is as good as anything to let them try.

Allowing them to take on an outdoor venture has a tremendous upside for them if it works out well; if it doesn’t work they are only out some time, sweat and a few dollars in plants or seeds. It is way more cost effective then if they wanted to take up an instrument or a sport and quit a few months later.

We can help them in this endeavor by increasing their odds of success. You know what your child is capable of physically and mentally so encourage them to stay in a window that fits their age. In other words don’t let your six year old try to build a raised garden bed alone. Just be smart in what they take on and try to set them up for a positive experience; be careful to not do everything for them though.

Garden Maintenance Services

A beautiful garden after cleaning service performed
A beautiful garden after cleaning service performed | Source

Ownership of Work

A huge key here is for your kids to have complete ownership in whatever they are doing. It is no different than if they have a cat or dog and they are responsible for feeding it and cleaning up after it.

If you do things for them they won’t feel like whatever they did is their own and won’t get the satisfaction when it is finished.

I’m certainly not implying that you can’t offer subtle reminders about it but you should really let this be their thing.

A great example of this is a project our fifteen year old son took on this summer refinishing a utility trailer we have. He used steel wool to clean off any rust and wiped it all clean. The next step was applying a primer/sealant to it and then he spray painted the entire thing black. He spent a few hours on it every day for almost two weeks but it looks brand new now and he is incredibly proud of what he did with the trailer.

The only downside to his project is he takes it as a personal blow when we scratch it getting hay or firewood because we damaged his work. He is learning that it is a trailer, and it will get scratched, but he is slowly starting to accept it.

We are very proud of him for taking this on and being so passionate about it. Let your kids try something in your garden; you won’t have a better feeling then when you see them take pride in something that they did.

Gardening With Kids

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    • adjkp25 profile image
      Author

      David 5 years ago from Northern California

      Marcy - Our kids are past the excitement phase of seeing a plant grow but I do remember when they got a kick out of it. Thanks for the vote.

    • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

      Marcy Goodfleisch 5 years ago from Planet Earth

      I love to see kids learning to garden, and they are so enchanted when plants start to grow! Excellent tips and information here!

      Voted up!

    • adjkp25 profile image
      Author

      David 5 years ago from Northern California

      kittyjj - I don't know what we would do without our garden and I agree 100% about the beauty of Japanese gardens. Thanks for the comment and voting.

    • kittyjj profile image

      Ann Leung 5 years ago from San Jose, California

      I have always wanted a vegetable garden but hardly find time for it. My kids love gardens and we have visited different types of gardens in our area. Japanese garden is absolutely beautiful and unique. Voted up and beautiful!

    • adjkp25 profile image
      Author

      David 5 years ago from Northern California

      teaches12345 - Japanese garden's just have a certain level of beauty that cannot be denied. For us it doesn't matter what kind of garden it is, as long as the kids are helping. Thanks for commenting and voting.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      I love your ideas for getting kids interested in gardening. It is so beneficial to their future view of the earth and its care. Love the Japanese garden idea. We had a garden when my son was small and he was out there helping us all the time, it really made him love being outdoors and to appreciate the results of his hard work. Voted up.

    • adjkp25 profile image
      Author

      David 5 years ago from Northern California

      billybuc - I think our garden would look naked without our raised beds. I'm glad schools still promote gardening, we have a couple of them in our area but I think we should have more.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I'm all for this; we had raised beds for each class at the last school I taught at, and I had my kids out daily working in the dirt and growing things. We have six raised beds in our backyard. Love this hub!

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