In this post I’ll be giving you a few tips and ideas for how to ‘do’ gardening outdoors with your kids, whatever space you have.
There are so many different pots and planters that can go on an outside windowsill that you will be thoroughly spoilt for choice. I haven’t got round to doing any at our house yet, so I’ve been on the lookout for beautiful window boxes around my neighbourhood to show you different options.
These two beautiful displays incorporate lots of different options. Really, you could use anything. Just make sure whatever you choose is big enough to be heavy enough when full of compost so that it won’t fall off easily, and I’d probably use pots or containers without holes in the bottom, so stop your windowsill from becoming damaged. If your sill is slanted you will need to prop up the front of your planters with blocks or flat stones, or they may slip off in wet and windy weather. If you are very worried about them falling off you can attach an L shaped bracket to the sill to hold them on.
Window boxes are great for toddler time, as they don’t need weeding, and they can help with watering and pruning, and can even keep track of them from indoors on rainy days – simply look out of the window! You can plant seasonal flowers in there too, such as pansies or stocks, replacing them with another few different plants once they are finished. Let your kids choose the plants, decide on colours, get their fingers into the soil and really feel what gardening is about. Tactile play is important for little ones to learn about their environment.
Small Outdoor Spaces
Even if you have very little space, you can do a LOT. Think vertical and you’ll actually have way more space than you thought. You can plant upwards in lots of different ways, even using shoe storage! Here are a few ways you can use the space you have.
- Hang pots on the wall – do I sound mad? Well, I may be a bit nutty but there are a surprising number of products out there to help you hang plant pots on walls. You can either buy a pot with a hook already integrated, although these can blow off in high winds, or buy a special hook that will hold you pot in place no matter what the British weather throws at it. Try these, or these.
- Try a different twist on a hanging basket – here are some more modern versions, if you’re not keen on the good ol’ hanging basket your mum has at home. Links here, here, and here.
- Shoe Organiser – yes you read right. Use a shoe organiser. See pic below. Enough said.
- Use something even weirder – anything you can put something into, you can use to plant outdoors. Wellies, toy trucks that you used to take to the sand pit, even old furniture can be a perfect plant pot! Look around your home and let your imagination (and your toddler’s) run wild.
Medium – Large Gardens
If you have a little bit of lawn, you can have lots of fun playing ball games and racing around on sunny days. Unless you have fake turf, your grass will never stay just that – grass alone. Little flowers and weeds will poke their heads up every so often in spring and summer. Try not to cut their little heads off too quickly by getting the lawn mower out (a brilliant way to get your toddler involved by the way – Archie Bear loves helping Daddy Bear mow the lawn), but go and sit on the grass and look at them, explore them together, thinking about the colours, sizes, petals, etc. Then pick them all!
Give your toddler their own ‘bit of earth’
I recently listened to the Secret Garden on audio book, and loved how excited Mary Lennox is about having her own ‘bit of earth’ to grow plants in, and how she cares for the plants in the secret garden by letting them breathe, pulling out all the weeds that are choking them. This Spring, we gave Archie a little section of our garden for his very own, and helped him plant out the crocuses, daffodils and hyacinths from the pots that were on our decking. He would run over and point at them all, naming them, and talking all about them. Daddy Bear planted some sunflowers with him a couple of months ago, and boy do they grow! They are a perfect, easy, spectacular plant to grow with toddlers. They grow fast, and will soon get taller than your toddler, then taller than you! I can’t wait for ours to flower, they just seem to be growing up and up and up!
Get out there and plant TOGETHER.
Archie loves joining in with us when we plant a new flower, bush or tree, and I will treasure these memories and photos forever. This is us planting a Victoria plum tree with Archie Bear’s cousin and uncle, and we go and see how it’s doing every so often.
Here are a few tips to getting your toddler involved in your outdoor gardening.
- Let them water! Whether they get soaked, or you get soaked, so long as the plants get a bit of water, then that’s a job well done! Have fun with it, especially on hot days.
- Give them a job to do. They will love having something to do that contributes and is useful! Get them to dig the hole for a new plant, or fill it in when the plant is in place. You might end up doing all the work, but they will feel involved.
- Don’t jump in when they get it wrong or make a mess. Toddlers are innately clumsy, so don’t berate them or tell them off when they accidentally water your shoes or pour soil on top of your precious flowers.
- Get them there own tools. As well as them loving having their own miniature trowel, fork and watering can, it will stop fights over the one and only trowel. Even if you have to swap with them and use the tiniest trowel ever, you’ll still get the job done. This one from Great Little Garden is perfect.However you garden, get your toddler involved. Get messy, get wet, choose plants and flowers together, and go and watch them grow. Look after them together, explain what weeds are, teach them how to nurture something and watch their wonder as their hard work pays off.