12 Top Tips for Gardening with Young Children

This is the perfect time of year to get gardening & planting, & a great opportunity to introduce young children to all the discoveries & benefits that gardening has to offer. Here are our 12 Top Tips for Gardening with Young Children.

1. Old clothes are a must just in case things get a little messy. We believe in embracing the mess & encouraging children to be free to explore, wearing old clothes means there are no limits to what can be discovered.  

2. Gardening offers so many opportunities for sensory play & discovery. Why not encourage children to feel, smell, touch & taste (within reason) plants, herbs, vegetables & flowers growing in the garden. Let them plunge their arms into the soil/compost & explore its properties & texture.

3. Gardening is a great way to encourage young children to care for & nurture living things. It enables them to consider what plants need in order to grow, what shelter/support they may need, & how simple actions can make a difference. It's also a great introduction to life cycles & the insects that inhabit their garden.

4. Even the youngest children can get involved & get their hands messy. As a baby Minnie loved to observe us gardening around her, as well as observing all nature had to offer. As she's got older she's loved becoming more & more involved with the gardening, & at 18months she was planting out her first tomatoes & strawberries. 

5. Gardening can be a child led experience. Talk together about what they'd like to grow & let them choose what they wish to plant. What plants do they like to eat, what's their favourite coloured flower, etc. If children are engaged in the activity they are likely to gain more from the experience.

6. Use gardening tools that are appropriate for your child's age. Child sized equipment such as forks, trowels etc enable greater independence & control.

7. Allow time & space for children to ponder & wonder as they experiment in the garden. Don't be too focused on getting all the seeds planted by a set time, allow for some freedom to make discoveries & new connections with the natural world.

8. Place seeds in a dish so they're easier for little hands to pick up. In the past we used to pour seeds from the packet into children's hands which proved tricky for little fingers to manipulate. Using a dish means it's easier for seeds to be picked up, & enables the seeds to be observed more closely too.

9. If possible give children their own space in a garden to dig, cultivate & explore. Not only does this encourage independence, creativity, & ownership, but freedom to garden & explore has a positive impact on a child's wellbeing.

10. Large tubs filled with compost enable young children to independently fill plant pots/containers

11. If you have no outdoor garden space, how about gardening indoors. A large seed tray or container provides a great space to explore, as well as plant up any seeds. Our Gardening in Small Spaces post has some ideas for indoor gardening, even in the smallest spaces you can get growing.

12. Keep a few seeds back so that once plants are growing children can compare the seed to the plant. This gives them an opportunity to observe the differences, & consider the time it's taken for the changes to occur.

To find out more about the benefits Gardening has to offer children check out our Why it's Great to Get Gardening post.


  1. Saving the seeds to compare to the growing plant is a brilliant idea.

    I would like to enter the giveaway. At the moment everything outdoors is a delight to my 15months old, but she especially loves pine cones and stones. Picking them up, puting them in her bucket, giving them to us, throwing them in puddles and much more.

  2. What an helpful post for parents wanting to start gardening with their children. We love gardening with our kids too! What a fun giveaway too! I just pinned this onto our Gardening Board. http://pinterest.com/educatorsspinon/gardening/

  3. Thx! Wonderful post...Gearing up to get my hands dirty in the garden with my son! Happy Spring!

  4. We only have grass in our garden but love you alternative ideas for planters, hubby gets his lawn and the kids get to make mud pies and plant stuff.

  5. What a great post - I'm sharing everywhere. We're garden mad here :D and have been planting furiously or I have and J and T have been digging them up finding worms.

  6. My 3 year old loves outdoors! She always collects rocks and sticks on our walks. :)
    Thank you for the giveaway!

  7. i would love to enter the competition. we have just planted lots of seeds and the children are enjoying watching them grow. i have a 2 year old and 4 year old and we spend most of our time in our garden and exploring the farm we live on. my little girls favourite outdoor thing to do is collect 'magic wishing pebbles' (stones) and 'magic rainbow wands' (sticks) and paint them then put them in her little garden next to their play house. my little boys favourite thing to do outside is catch all the chickens that we have wondering around the farm!

  8. Ooh we spent last weekend constructing a raised veggie plot with our twin girls help (blog post yesterday) and they loved 'helping' us

  9. It seems I am hopeless at gardening. Thank you for these tips!

  10. My daughters favourite thing to do in our garden is to collect scoops of sand and stones into her little bucket :)

  11. My son loves looking for bugs and running up and down our road. My daughter loves to copy everything he does!

    Lovely giveaway!


  12. What a fantastic post - quiet inspiring. At the moment my daughter's favourite thing to do outside is to see just ho much of the garden she can cover with the sand from her sandpit! I figure she's learning to use spades and buckets in the process.


  13. My children are 4 and 1 and just love watering everything in the garden which is a great help to mummy who can sit back and relax. They love watering all the flowers and even helped with the tomatoes last year.

  14. Just discovered your blog and lovely - thanks!
    Our best bit is when our veggie crops have grown going outside to pick what we are going to eat and then preparing and cooking together! A great tip for fussy eaters as they always try if not love what they have grown themselves.

  15. My 2 love to water all the flowers and things we grow. My 4 yr old takes charge and tells the 1 yr old what to water next. They also love helping to plant seeds and watch things grow. Last yeara my daughter loved taking a basket outside and picking our home grown tomatoes. Very helpful!!

  16. I love your post and I am sharing it on our preschool blog! You can see it here http://www.cedarcrosspreschool.com/2/post/2014/03/growing-vegetables-with-kids.html. Leave us a comment or fill out one of the forms if you would prefer I remove it and I will.

    Thanks for sharing your stories with us :)

  17. Our centre has planted some new fruit trees and bushes, but it has been taken out by our children here at preschool. I am planning to get children more involved in growing and taking care of our plants, small humble steps. Thanks for sharing, I think if they were more involved in the process it would be easier to keep the plants alive.