Being outdoors is great for our minds and bodies. Studies have shown that more time spent outside leads to lower blood pressure, better mental health and physical well-being. Fostering a love of nature and the outdoors in your children will be incredibly good for them now, and into adult life. You’ll also make amazing family memories together!
Our gardens offer a world of excitement and intrigue for children. Giving children their own space to play, as well as trusting them to explore and play without structure, is a great way to foster good decision-making skills, independence and good mental health.
It’s great to enjoy garden activities with your children, and also to set aside cosy outdoor seating areas where they can eat, play and read - just enjoying being outdoors.
We’ve picked some of our favourite things to do in the garden with your children.
Grow your own food
Growing fruit, veg and herbs is one of the best ways to get children to enjoy the garden. If you can, it’s a good idea to give your kids a dedicated space that they can call their own, and encourage them to sow the seeds or plant the plants themselves, so they can be involved in the whole process from plot to plate. It’s amazing how many fruits and veggies they’ll eat when they’ve grown them themselves and just walk up and pick the fruits of their labour!
Choose easy crops to grow like strawberries, potatoes, tomatoes and apples, or fast-growing veg like salad leaves and radishes. Large crops like sweetcorn, beans and pumpkins can be lots of fun too.
Create a mini jungle
Using plants to create a ‘mini-jungle’ is a great way to create an area of the garden where your children can explore and create dens. Choose tall plants like bamboo, along with ferns and hardy palms to greate a dense and exciting environment - ferns really add to that “prehistoric” feel. Get the kids involved with planning and planting?
In no time you’ll have an exciting jungle area your children will love hiding in and running through.
Grow ‘monster’ plants
Sunflowers are easy to grow from seed and can grow up to 2m tall if fed and watered. It’s a lovely activity to sow the seeds with your children in pots in April and then plant them outside in late May. You’ll need to protect young plants from frost, slugs and snails. It’s fun for children to measure how tall their plants grow and how they can influence the height of their sunflowers by feeding and watering - great for teaching them to care for something.
Best thing is, you can harvest the sunflower seeds of many varieties at the end of the growing seasons and do it all again next year!
Create a living shelter
A living den or sculpture is a great way to get children into gardening, while giving them a dedicated space they can call their own. Easiest way is to buy special kits containing individual willow ‘withies’ that you can plant and weave together to create structures like arches and dens. These structures will grow and last for years, providing a long-term retreat or hideaway for your children to enjoy!
Make wildlife habitats
Creating wildlife habitats is one of the most joyful and educational activities you can do with your children in the garden. Kids will love watching the wildlife and it’s fun working out how to attract different species. You could plant a bee border full of wildflowers or dig a pond. A fun thing to do is to buy or create your own wildlife identification charts - then you and your children can record the wildlife that turns up to the habitats they’ve created!
There are plenty of creative projects you and your children can do in the garden. Try painting pots and planters to bring unique works of colourful art to your garden, or you can make outdoor candle holders and bird feeders.
Plant a Sensory Garden
You create a sensory garden with colours, textures and smalls your children will adore. Engage them in picking plants with textures they are drawn to. Smelling scented flowers can evoke some of the strongest childhood memories, so growing fragrant plants in your garden is a lovely thing to do for your kids and will give them memories that last a lifetime. Encourage your children to pick out their favourite smells and create their own fragrant garden. You could even encourage them to mash up flowers of different plants to create their own ‘perfume’!