Depending on your outlook, this small area of land can been seen as a mini haven – an oasis of calm, filled with flourishing plants - or a place simply to stick the goalposts or dump the trampoline. Perfectly groomed gardens and small children don’t often mix well but there is no reason why, with a little extra interest, a healthy balance between those outdoor toys and your colourful rockeries can’t co-exist.
Top Tips for the Young Gardener:
Allocate a patch of the garden just for them. This will give them a sense of ownership for the maintenance of their plot and help them learn to take responsibility for something. Now, around their plot, put a border, be it a small wired fence or a run of rocks, stones and pebbles. Buy in some extra compost to mix with the existing soil to improve its quality giving the plants a better chance of survival. If the plants keep dying, a child’s interest will too. Blossom in the Garden
So, the patch of land has been cultivated and is ready to be filled with vasefuls of colourful plants. It’s time for the fun to begin. Off you go to the garden centre together, to choose plants. Get your child involved in the decision making process as much as possible -this will sustain interest – and explain what will and won’t work in the garden. Children like extreme plants with vibrant colours, and they are sure to add a splash of life to any garden. Favorites include Pansies, Bizzy Lizzies, Petunias, Marigolds, Daffodils, Sunflowers & Nasturtiums. But why limit the planting to flowers? Children also like growing fruit, vegetables or herbs.
Spruce up their plot to create year-round interest, with garden ornaments such as wooden flowers or bumble bees, or go green and make a scarecrow using recycled materials.
Bring in some Math's: it's easy to overspend on plants, so work to a budget and let your child get involved with the sums.
Remember that one size doesn’t fit all. Buy gardening tools designed for little hands. Miniature versions of the real thing will grab their interest and will be easier for them to use.
Test that spatial awareness. Encourage some thought process in to the positioning of those newly bought plants. Get them to sketch out what they want their little patch to look like. Then let the planting commence! This is the bit the children will enjoy most - let them dig, remove worms, inspect tiny bugs, explore this small piece of wilderness, before placing each plant in its rightful place.
With your child, visit the garden on a regular basis, not only to care, weed, maintain and water plants, but also to watch as life evolves. They will love to see flowers open, vegetables come to fruition, and they will discover new mini beasts and creatures.
How children can help in the garden:
Of course statistics can be manipulated, and of course you maybe in the minority, but there is a two to one chance that your offspring will enjoy wielding a spade or snapping those pruners. Yes, amazingly enough, recent research* has revealed that two thirds of children (66 per cent) want to spend more time helping in the garden. So how do you give them a hands-on introduction to gardening, literally letting them get their hands dirty?
A Spot for Conservation:
Of course, by creating and nurturing a green spot of their own many children may adopt more of an interest in important environmental issues. Get the children to ‘do their bit’ by getting them involved in making compost, collecting rain water to feed the plants and growing organic vegetables. Also, let them learn more about the vulnerability of plant life by sowing seeds. That way they learn how plants grow, what threatens them and what is needed for them to survive. Let’s face it, the more they learn about climate change - and what they can do to help - the better.
A Spot to Play Outside:
Of course, a child’s garden isn’t to be filled only with an abundance of green shrubbery. There must be space to allow for some outdoor garden fun. The garden provides a safe environment for play, and allows children to be rewarded with many of the health benefits linked to playing in the open air, such as improved cardio-fitness, increased agility and strength. Outdoor toys enhance a child’s imagination and can motivate them into action. With new additions being introduced each year, it’s worth taking a look at what’s out there such as state of the art climbing frames, slides, swings, not to mention tree houses, pop up tents and paddling pools! And the popularity of trampolines for entire family use still continues as, let’s face it, mums & dads are bound to jump on it, too! Playing safe on your trampoline: Allow only one person on the trampoline at a time. Ensure that children are supervised at all times and weight limits adhered to. Do not attempt or allow somersaults .Place the trampoline away from structures, trees, and other play areas. Reduce risk by using a safety enclosure.