Gardening with children is a great way to encourage them to connect with nature in an urban setting. They can learn a lot puttering around in the backyard with mom and dad. Benefits of parents gardening with their children include: it’s fun, keeps kids healthy, helps them learn how recycling protects the environment, and develops character traits such as patience, imagination, and creativity. Here are some DIY garden project ideas parents can do with their kids.
Repurpose items you no longer use.
Raid the backyard shed or your basement for things you no longer use but haven’t yet recycled or donated. Repurposing items such as a kiddie pool (rigid, not inflatable), sandbox, wheelbarrow, or items from a clothes closet (boots, purse, fabric shoe organizer) make great planters. Create a kid-friendly garden – let them choose what to plant while you provide the heavy lifting. It will become a unique focal point of the backyard or front yard.
Create a hanging gutter garden.
A DIY garden project suitable for older children is a hanging gutter garden. Start with leftover gutter sections or reclaimed gutters from a salvage yard. Drill some holes for drainage.
A hanging gutter garden is typically attached to a roof or deck overhang and is made of gutter sections connected to the one above and below by chains. Because gutters have depth but are narrow, they are ideal as container gardens for growing herbs and smaller sized edibles such as radishes, strawberries, and salad greens.
Another alternative to the hanging gutter garden is to use gutters as window boxes or planters by mounting them underneath a window or directly on a fence or garage wall.
Build some raised garden beds.
Put an older child with woodworking skills to work! As a DIY garden project, a raised flower bed is essentially a square or rectangular box, typically made from wood. Raised garden beds can be mounted on legs or resemble enclosures or containers made of bricks and stones that sit directly on the ground.
Raised vegetable gardens or raised flower beds, particularly ones one legs, offer better accessibility to children, grandparents, and people with mobility issues. Well-constructed raised gardens also have better drainage, a longer growing season than in-ground plants, and require less weeding and upkeep.
Drop some seed bombs.
Seed bombs are produced from a number of materials used alone or in combination, including clay, compost, and paper. The material is fashioned into small balls embedded with seeds. The idea is to drop the seed bombs on to areas of your lawn that are sparse or have soil issues – they grow in less than ideal conditions, providing colour and visual interest.
Craft bird houses with your kids.
Craft a village of bird house. Let your kids paint them bright colours. Place them in groups around the backyard. Bird houses don’t just have to hang from trees – mount them on fences or porch columns a safe distance from the ground.
Make an eco-friendly bird feeder.
Making an eco-friendly bird feeder is an easy activity for all ages. Turn an orange peel into an all-natural feeder filled with birdseed and peanut butter. Forage for pine cones then transform them into bird feeders you can hang in the backyard. Recycle a small plastic container, convert a wood tray, or repurpose a small woven basket – they will make great bird feeders.
Plant a pizza garden.
Shape the bed into a circle and use garden stakes to form the pizza slices. Then plant the each section of the garden with typical pizza toppings such as tomatoes, bell peppers, onions, basil, oregano, and garlic.
Make a rain chain.
Originating from Japan, rain chains are used as an alternative to downspouts. Instead of a pipe, a decorative chain guides water off a roof to the ground. But you don’t have to uproot your gutter system – they can be attached to any overhang, including the eaves of a detached garage. A good DIY project for older kids, a rain chain can be made from a length of chain and various materials that can be found around your home such as small clay plant pots, cookie cutters, and repurposed eating or cooking utensils.
Create a mini water garden.
Nothing improves a landscaping design quite like a water feature. But if you have young children, you might be hesitant it put a pond in your backyard. Create a mini water garden instead.
Any container that holds water or is adapted to hold water by adding a plastic liner can be used. Select a suitably sized container such as a galvanized tub, metal bucket, a resin tub, or a clay or ceramic pot. Place a layer of pea gravel on top of a layer of kitty litter. Add a water pump. Using a solar water pump will eliminate the need for a power source.
Include water garden plants like water hyacinths, water lettuce, canna lilies, water irises, reeds, and rushes. When the diameter of a container is 18 inches or less use no more than three or four small plants.
Would you like to do parent/child DIY projects without the DIY? Ready-made versions or kits of seed bombs, bird houses, bird feeders, and rain chains are available at dollar, hardware, and big box stores. You can even purchase mini pond kits from specialty garden centres.