It's a great idea to encourage kids into the garden for a number of reasons – aside from getting some much needed fresh air and exercise, they'll burn off a load of energy, and they can learn where the fruit and veg on their plates actually comes from.
We've consulted Dawn Isaac, garden designer and author of 101 Things for Kids to do Outside and 101 Brilliant Things for Kids to do with Science, for some tips.
She says: "There’s nothing but positives about getting children into the garden! It involves mud, mess and watering cans so it’s not a great surprise that children love gardening. There is also something amazing about taking a tiny seed and watching it grow, flower and even fruit – it’s like the most incredible magic trick but one that takes a minute to learn".
Read on to find out how to get your kids involved in the garden...
Give them their own garden space
If you have the room, give your kids a patch of their own to work on. "Try to give them their own garden space to play with", says Dawn, "and not just the rubbish bit that you can’t grow anything on!"
They'll love being in control – plus, your own blossoming flowers won't be destroyed by little hands.
If there's not space for their own mini-allotment, simply buy a large container or pot for them to get stuck into.
"If you have the space, an old wheelbarrow is perfect,' says Dawn. 'Then they can choose a variety of flowers, fruit or veg to grow – just try to steer them towards dwarf or smaller varieties. I have also used old tyres, lined with old compost bags with holes made for drainage. They are big enough to plant a few plants – and even house a few plastic characters or toys for some small world play".
Give them access to lots of materials
Dawn advises encouraging the children to find crafting materials in the garden itself - "Things like old bricks, bits of wood or cut logs - so they can build their own gardens or dens".
Then they can find other natural objects to decorate with (for example, making paints from berries, grass and mud).
Give them fun jobs
No one likes doing boring chores do they? So make it interesting for your little ones.
"Sowing is great", says Dawn. "Bigger seeds like runner beans are easier for smaller children to handle, but I find even two and three-year-olds can sow small seeds if you show them what to do. And, at the other end of the production line, harvesting fruit and veg is also brilliant fun for children".
"Of course, if they have their own tools – preferably with their names emblazoned on – some children will happily spend time doing "jobs" around the garden. Just be warned – they might not be the jobs you want them to do".
Pick the right type of plants for them to pot
Choose edible plants, where possible – kids can enjoy the fruits of their labour (literally). Dawn suggests strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, apples, plums, carrots and lettuce.
"Unusual veg such as round or multi-coloured carrots, or the alien looking Kohlrabi are also a hit. Hardy annuals are great because the results come fast and they’re generally hassle-free – things like cornflowers, pot marigolds and the ever-impressive sunflowers. But there are things which I just love to have in a children’s garden – pony tails grasses (Stipe tenuissima) and super soft lambs ears (Stachys byzantina "Silver Carpet")".