With gardening requiring some much work, there’s no reason you shouldn’t lighten your load by enlisting the help of little ones who are more than eager to get their hands dirty. From readying the soil in the spring to planting, weeding, harvesting and preparing the garden for winter, there are plenty of fun jobs your children will love doing.
By making gardening a family activity, you’ll all get to spend time outside together and feel a sense of ownership in the process of setting up your garden and patio. Here are some projects for your family to consider this spring.
Children love to build and create. Set up construction sites and have plenty of miniature construction equipment on hand. Get your kids to prepare your garden beds in the spring by having them bring their construction equipment out and use it to enhance the soil in the garden. They can put peat moss or compost in their dump trucks, move it to the garden and spread it with a bulldozer. When they’re done mixing everything together, go over the whole bed with a garden rake to loosen it again before planting. Hard hats, sound effects and even specially decorated shirts can make the activity even more fun.
Kids are much more likely to participate in gardening if they’re growing a favorite food. Give each child a small portion of your garden or even just a large pot with garden soil and have them plant their favorite vegetable in it. Depending on your child’s taste, this might be carrots, bell peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, peas, or green beans. Encourage a taste for vegetables and healthy eating with this activity. Give your child responsibility to water and weed their part of the garden and track their progress in a journal or composition notebook.
If you have a flower garden, one of the best ways to get kids to help is to let them pick one flower of each type they help plant. Whether you’re weeding, trimming back flower bushes or planting, allow your child to pick a favorite flower after completing each task. Patio sets are a great place to set up your flower press station, complete with books, your children’s flowers of choice and a little shade so they can get out of the sun.
Most kids love taking pictures and older children may even be excited by the possibility to create a newspaper article about a garden project. For each project, have a child act as a journalist. He or she can take pictures of each stage of the project, interview participants about what they’re doing and eventually compile it all for posterity. This is a great idea if you have multiple kids; the ones who aren’t acting as photojournalists will be excited to participate, be in the photos and get interviewed.
Kids have plenty of natural interests and curiosities. Turn otherwise routine gardening tasks into fun by harnessing these interests and making them a fun part of outdoor tasks. Take cues from each child’s interests to assign garden jobs that are interesting and exciting. As always, don’t forget to cover everyone with sunscreen and drink lots of water while you’re out working in the sun.
Cover image by tricky (rick harrison) via Flickr.