Necessity is the mother invention and I am the mother of a compulsive flower-picker. So what started as a bit of a problem, turned into a great summer project for our family.
This is my daughter, then three years old and passionately caressing our spring blooms. To say that my girl loves flowers would be a big, tulip-hugging understatement. While it's pastel tulips she loves in the Spring, she favors pink Martha Washingtons in the Summer and adamantly insists on orange pansies in the Fall. While I've been happy to oblige and plant her favorites, I soon learned that the favorites didn't last long. She would secretly and lovingly pick each bloom. In an effort to cultivate her love of flowers and still protect my peonies, our solution was to make her very own garden where she could plant, dig and pick to her flowery little heart's content. We loved this project so much, it has become a summer tradition.
By helping your kids make a small space in the yard specifically for them, you can keep them entertained this summer, teach them responsibility, increase their confidence and keep your plants intact. This project is very simple and completely customizable to your budget and your space ( you could even do it in a pot or planter box if you don't have a yard).
As I mentioned, this is a project we've done before.
Last year we started with a big kids' garden full of marigolds, petunias, tomatoes, pumpkins and zucchini all enclosed in a perfectly pink picket fence. My mom, a true gardener, even helped out. It was a lot of fun, but since we are in the midst of landscaping this year, we've down-sized the kids' garden and relegated it to a small, dusty, yet-to-be-addressed, corner of the yard. Kids don't seem to mind where the garden is or how big it is, as long as it's theirs.
Kids' Garden Supplies
- 1-2 packages of garden fencing, available at gardening stores, Home Depot, Lowe's, and Wal-Mart ( the amount you will need depends on how big you plan to make your garden).
- 1-2 cans of spray paint ( let your kid choose the color, of course)
- Flowers, plants and/or vegetable plants of your child's choosing
- Gardening supplies: little shovels, gloves, watering cans, etc.
- Optional: a personalized garden sign, garden ornaments (finally, a home for the lawn gnomes that didn't sell in last summer's yard sale).
Instructions to Make Your Kids' Garden
- Parents spray paint the fencing on a drop cloth or scrap of cardboard and let it dry. Two or three coats on each side should do the trick (we left our fence out in the elements last winter, so it's looking a bit rough and definitely in need of new paint).
2. Mark out the spot where your fencing will go and set it aside.
3. Help your kid(s) plant their plants within the marked area.
4. Together, put up the fence around the plants and secure it ( you can attach the fence sections to each other with plastic zip ties if they won't stay together).
5. Kids can add a sign, a garden ornament or stepping stones and decorate it-this is their space!
6. Enjoy a summer full of adventure, ooh and ahh at each day's new blooms and maybe even sample some summer vegetables!
Kids' Garden Tips:
Kids' Garden Tips:
- Remember the kids are calling the shots on this one. Let them make as many of the choices about the garden as possible. This gives them a feeling of ownership over their garden and confidence by allowing them to make the decisions.
- Have the kids do a little research before buying their plants. Using the Internet or books, and your guidance, they can learn which plants are compatible in your zone, which prefer sun or shade, etc. (they'll be learning without even knowing it).
- Let the kids add some vegetable plants. It's much simpler than a full-blown vegetable garden, but with the benefits of learning about growing your own food ( this also makes for more fun summer activities like finding recipes that will use up the 10 lbs of zucchini you've surprisingly grown in that little kid garden).
- If you've got a flower-picker on your hands, consider a cutting garden made up flowers that bloom frequently.
- Resist the urge to water their plants for them, unless they are really little. A garden is a great way to teach responsibility and help them understand the consequences of their actions: bright, beautiful blooms or burned up begonias.