If you have children, you may be seeking ways to entice them away from their screens and get them to spend more time outdoors. To help you raise future citizens who love, appreciate and take care of nature, here are 5 ideas for a child-friendly garden:
Give Kids Their Own Growing Area – Let Them Make Decisions
Giving children some agency when it comes to what they do in your garden can help make it more fun for them. Give your children their own plot, patch or container, so they can decide what to grow. You can give plenty of guidance, but make sure they also can make their own choices. Will they grow edibles? Flowers? Will they make wildlife habitats? It is important to let them decide some things – and, yes, to make their own mistakes.
Make a ‘Grazing Garden’
It is important that younger kids understand that not all plants are edible! But if you set aside one part of your garden that has only plants that are edible when raw, you can help them learn plant identification safely.
A grazing garden could also help them appreciate where food comes from. A grazing garden might have plants like lettuces and other leafy greens, strawberries, peas and pea shoots, edible flowers like nasturtiums and pansies etc…
Labelling each edible clearly (perhaps with visual images they help you make) could be a good way to help them learn about your edible garden.
Make Pathways For Play
No matter how large or small your garden may be, making winding pathways can make it feel like a jungle for kids to explore. Make a circular or looping route and kids can use it as a race track for running around, or for other imaginative games. Don’t underestimate how much difference where you place pathways can make. You might have a paved pathway – but a wood chip track through a forest garden, or even mowed paths through a meadow or wild lawn area could provide a similar effect.
Make a Garden Den or Hideout
From cane wigwams covered in climbing beans, to natural branch structures, to fruit tree arbors or living willow sculptures… from tree houses to ‘caves’ dug into a bank… there are almost endless ways to make an eco-friendly garden den or hide out. Kids will love a space to call their own – especially if that space is ‘no grown ups allowed’.
Make Spaces for Natural Play
Kids can have fun with the simplest of things. From climbing trees, to making mud pies – it is important for kids to have spaces for natural play. Make an obstacle course from branches and logs and reclaimed materials. Create a ‘mud pie’ kitchen where they can make ‘potions’ from plants and other natural resources. And make sure you leave wilder corners for imaginative interaction with the natural world. Even something as simple as a fallen branch can become a wide range of things…
These are just a few tips to help you create a child-friendly garden.