This spring, why not embrace the fact that kids are a magnet for dirt and get them into the garden.
"There’s nothing but positives about getting children into the garden!"
There they can pot their own plants, watch the fruits of their labour grow and just do what they love best - getting messy!
Garden designer and author of 101 Things for Kids to do Outside and 101 Brilliant Things for Kids to do with Science, Dawn Isaac said: '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.'
We've enlisted the help of Dawn to give us some handy tips on how to keep the kids entertained in the garden. Who knows - your little one might just grow up to be the next Alan Titchmarsh!
Give them their own garden space
'Try to give them their own garden space to play with,' said Dawn, 'and not just the rubbish bit that you can’t grow anything on!'
Not only will they love having something of their own but it means your blossoming flowers in the corner won't get destroyed by little hands.
If there's not space for their own mini-allotment, the best solution would be to give your little one their very own large container or pot which they can decorate.
'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
'Encourage the children to find crafting materials in the garden itself,' says Dawn. '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. Dawns explains, 'They can make 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
'Anything edible – that can be consumed there and then or after a quick rinse – are perfect for kids,' says Dawn. 'So strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, apples, plums, carrots and lettuce are all great.
'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").'