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!"
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
Dawn said: "Try to give them their own garden space to play with – 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!
Dawn said: "And if you have the space, an old wheelbarrow is perfect. 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 said: "Things like old bricks, bits of wood or cut logs - so they can build their own gardens or dens. Encourage the children to find crafting materials in the garden itself - making paints from berries, grass and mud or maybe creating a collage with natural objects."
Give them fun jobs
No one likes doing boring chores do they? So make it interesting for your little ones.
Dawn said: "Sowing is great – 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
Dawn said: "Anything edible – that can be consumed there and then – or after a quick rinse – are perfect for kids 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')."