If you love to garden and you have kids, then you know that the two don’t always mix. Even when they’re trying to be helpful, they rarely have the same interest in proper planting depths and gentle watering that you do, they can’t always tell a weed from a seedling, and the other day, I looked over at my daughter, who was *supposed* to be helping me put composted manure around our strawberry plants in our garden, and noticed that she was doing so while standing directly ON a strawberry plant. Sigh…
There are, however, ways to get kids into the garden without destroying your entire strawberry harvest. There are cute ways to give them little gardens of their own that they’ll want to take care of, ways to give them spots in your garden that will keep your strawberries safe, and ways to make your entire garden, in general, a more welcoming and kid-friendly place. Read on for some of my favorite kid-friendly garden ideas:
1. beanpole teepee art. If you’re going to make a beanpole teepee, you might as well make it pretty!
2. bubble station. A bubble station is a great way to keep kids busy outside.
3. butterfly feeder. You want the butterflies to come to your garden, because their caterpillars will eat harmful insects. They’ll also eat your dill, sure, but aren’t the swallowtails worth it?
4. fairy garden. Here’s a project that even very young children can make, and it’s also something that they can play in, whether it’s dinosaurs that tromp through their fairy gardens, or trains, or even actual fairies.
5. foot-washing station. Every yard needs this next to every door.
6. hopscotch stepping stones. If there’s a particular path that you want your kids to walk through your garden, then you’d better make that path fun!
7. living willow playhouse. This idea comes from Gardening on a Shoestring, and it’s a great way to give a kid a playhouse that fits right into the environment around it. No plastic Little Tykes crap for you!
8. mud kitchen. You might think that this is only for the preschool set, but I assure you, my nine-year-old still plays with her mud kitchen all the time, and her friends flock to it every time they come over.
9. music wall. Put this on one of your garden fences, and your kid can bang away while scaring off bunnies and birds for you.
10. nasturtiums. The leaves of this plant are really special for water play–and they’re edible!
11. outdoor balance scale. Make those hands-on math skills a natural part of play by making this super-fun outdoor balance scale. Seriously, I want one!
12. outdoor chalkboard. You could build this, or you could drag an easel into the garden–inspiring for the kids, either way! This outdoor easel won’t block the sunlight.
13. pallet walkway. Pallet wood won’t last forever, but it’s a fairy quick and easy way to make a path. Don’t stomp the strawberries, Kids!
14. tire swing. Okay, you don’t want this IN your garden, but if you’ve got a kid who always wants to be near you, a tire swing NEXT to the garden could be just the ticket.
15. yogurt cup rain chain. If your kid would rather play with water than help you water… well, indulge her!