Thursday, January 31, 2013

Planning a Children's Garden

This month I've shared several articles here and elsewhere about planning your upcoming year's garden.  To wrap up the month, I have one last planning article to share.  If you missed some of the other articles, check them out.  January may be all about planning, but in February it's time to start doing.

Planning a Bee Garden
Winter Planning for Spring (and summer) Vegetable Gardens
Ordering Seeds

* * *

If children are part of your backyard farm, (even if they're just visitors) creating a children's garden can welcome them and encourage them to explore their own small corner of earth.  Helping children take part in the work of producing their own food benefits everyone.  Gardening not only teaches children about the process of growing things, but also teaches compassion, hard work, and ignites the  curiosity.  Working alongside children in the garden makes the experience even more powerful and is an can be an integral part of backyard farming.

When you begin to design a children's garden, remember that this space can be simply a traditional garden space where a child is the gardener, or an entire area dedicated to structures and children's related play and gardening.  Based on your space, your time, the age of your child, and you children's interest, you can design the garden space specifically to meet your needs.

A few Things to Remember
  • Before you get started, remember this is a children's garden.  Make sure they are involved in the entire process (including the planning).  While it's tempting to do much of the work yourself, make sure there is an area that is truly 100% there own.  While watching a child transplant the same plant everyday may be painful for you to watch, it is part of their process and learning, and will truly give them ownership over the space.
  • Resist the temptation to hide the garden in the back or in a shady space where plants won't grow.  A child will place a greater importance on a garden if you show it is important
  • Encourage children to grow food.  They will often learn to love the food they grow even if they don't like the store bought version. There is nothing as tasty are food right from the garden
  • Work in the garden (or a nearby garden) with your child - it truly is one of the best things you can do

What to include in the Garden Design

A children's garden doesn't have to be just a plot of earth, and it can grow as the children grow.  Here are some ideas of what you can include in a children's garden:

  •  A stick teepee for growing beans or vines
  • A balance beam
  • Strawberry plants
  • Bulbs and seeds
  • Favorite Vegetables
  • A tunnel or fort
  • A texture garden
  • An aromatherapy garden with herbs
  • Sunflowers - a sunflower house
  • A sandbox
  • A quiet reflective spot
  • A bridge
  • A fairy Garden
  • A music wall
  • A Game
  • Natural Wood block
  • Table and chairs

For more ideas, check out this Pinterest board

Create a fairy garden

Add a music wall

Encourage children to dig and plant things they choose

With a little time and planning you can create a magical, place for children to dream, explore and grow.  

Have you created a children's garden as part of your backyard farm?


  1. Lots of great ideas to get children interested in gardening! We have a couple really good books that offer ideas for creating children's gardens - "Roots Shoots Buckets & Boots, Gardening Together with Children" by Sharon Lovejoy and "Kids Garden, The Anytime, Anyplace Guide to Sowing & growing Fun" by Avery Hart and Paul Mantell. These books describe ideas for fun projects such as building a sunflower house, moon garden, flowery maze and a pizza patch! We have done several of these and our kids really enjoyed working together with us creating something they were proud of. My youngest is happy to help me in the greenhouse blocking up seedlings!

  2. Rob - thanks for those great book ideas! I love Roots Shoots Buckets and Boots. I love the idea of a flower maze. Making pizza or lasagna gardens is great fun for kids.

  3. This looks so fun! I'll definitely do this with my kids someday. I think it is soooo important to show them where their food comes from at an early age. If they grow up gardening and have that knowledge, I feel they will make better food choices when they get older and feed themselves.

  4. How fun! I'm hoping to do a giant sunflower fort this year. I might try making a tunnel of green beans for my daughter to play in.

  5. I love this post--and love making gardens kid friendly! I'm a mentor to 12 school gardens and also have gardens for our own kids, and the gardens you've designed are adorable. What a great space to grow with your children! Lovely post!

  6. This is adorable, whimsical and productive all at the same time! What a great garden.

  7. I absolutely LOVE this! As Rob mentioned above, what a great way to get children involved in gardening. The key to doing anything consistently is to make it enjoyable - great job. ~TMR~

  8. Awesome garden Gretchen! I found this post on the Barn Hop and I would love to have you join the fun on my Creative HomeAcre Hop!

    Hope to see you there!

  9. Love this post! I am grow a pet like plant with my kids that moves and closes its leaves when you Tickle It! OMG We love our TickleMe Plant! I think ever child will want to grow the plant that moves when Tickled. See video. I love nature! Great gift idea as well.
    TickleMe Plant

  10. Dear Gretchen,
    Oh, I love this post... our kids are teens now but I loved having them alongside me in the garden when they were small...The books Rob mentioned above are fantastic as well.. I have all of Sharon Lovejoys Books! Congratulations! This post is featured on the Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop this week! Again, thank you for sharing your garden plan for children and the lovely photos! Delightful!

  11. Awesome post! Each of our children had their own garden beds when they were growing up. They planted their seeds and picked out their plants -- veggies and flowers, themselves. We also had fairy gardens and fairy "spots" (an elderberry grove in the corner where the fairy queen passes on Midsummer's Eve, usually leaving a fae trinket for the children in the house). And the kids' creations -- stepping stones, spinners made from painted soda bottles, signs and geegaws still decorate my vegetable garden and yard, even though the kids are all grown and off aside from our 15 yr old.

  12. I love these ideas! Thank you so much for sharing. We are preparing our garden area here at our new homestead so this is perfect timing! I want it to be beautiful as well as functional, and fun for the kiddos.

  13. This is so cool! I'm glad you shared it on Eco Kids, and I pinned it on our board:

    1. I'm featuring this on Eco Kids, and I plan on putting it on my Facebook Page this week with a link back here!

  14. Oh this is AMAZING!!! I am pinning this! Thanks so much for sharing this with us at Eco-Kids Tuesday! Please come link up with us again today!

  15. I absolutely totally adore this! what a great idea to train squash over a tunnel!!! I am sharing this on my facebook page and will be using some of these wonderful ideas to design something similar in this years garden :)

  16. I linked this to my most recent post!