In today’s world any way to prise children out from in front of the TV or Xbox can be a real challenge for parents. One way to get kids outside can be to involve them in gardening. By designing the garden with the kids in mind it is possible to develop an exciting adventure playground and fantasy world within your own property boundary. A child’s world is big on the senses so a garden which has smell, taste, sound, touch and sight creates interest for our little ones.
Some ideas include:
- Big climbing trees which bear fruit or nuts such as walnuts, figs, mulberry or apple trees.
- A kids eating area under dappled shade where it is OK for them to be messy and noisy. Use an old mat or piece of carpet for somewhere to sit or lie.
- A ‘Snack Track’ to visit after school. I have made this at our home. It is an edible garden with a winding path full of cherry tomatoes, snow peas, strawberries, blueberries, parsley, mandarins, beans, cocktail kiwifruit etc. Food can be picked and eaten on the spot. Fruits from this area can substitute for the normal sweets. Strawberries and raspberries can be mashed and frozen and eaten like ice blocks. Citrus such as lemonade and mandarins can be squeezed into drinks instead of Fizzy drink. Carrots fresh from the garden
- A wildlife garden designed to attract bees, birds, butterflies and insects let children discover the natural world and to go on hunts with their bug catcher and butterfly net. Plant Rudbeckia, Echinacea, Eupatorium and milkweeds to attract these creatures. Make a Bug Hilton with the kids to attract beneficial insects. A shallow pond can attract frogs, fish and dragonflies.
- A fairy garden filled with flowers and painted stones, shells and figurines, wind chimes and scented with Daphne, Citrus and Gardenias lets the imagination run wild. Rocks can be painted with glow in the dark paint and fairy lights strung from trees to create night time adventures. Use solar lights as they are easy and cheap.
- A little amphitheatre can be built by mounding the earth or planting a curved hedge. Children can put on plays for friends and family.
- Little niches with stepping stones, bridges over ditches, hedge mazes, willow wigwams, tall ornamental grasses, tunnels, logs to walk along or jump off, hidden paths all create areas for play such as hide and seek. Let an area of your garden go wild with wild flowers and tall grass.
- A pet cemetery area allows children to bury loved pets be it the cat or sparrow found in the cats mouth!
- A tree planting ceremony can take place for each of the children. The children can choose the tree themselves and bury treasures or poems under the tree in a time capsule.
- A Seven Dwarfs garden can be created by planting many of the dwarf root stock trees such as lemons, Eating fresh peaspeaches, apples and mandarins. These plants only grow to one to one and a half metres but produce normal sized fruit. A perfect height for children to pick. Other fruiting trees such as figs, apples and plums can be trained to be espaliered, this creates interesting shapes. Many trees can be included in a small space and they are at a good height for children to pick. Hedges such as lonicera and buxus can be pruned into interesting shapes such as snails, chickens, or anything else the children suggest. Hedges can also be pruned to grow as tunnels and archways for children to play in.
So go on and have a go. Remember that a kids garden can be more than just a sandpit and tree house and is only limited by your imagination and your child’s! You know your garden is a success when all the neighbourhood kids are always at your place!