Today is officially the first day of spring, so a perfect time to get children gardening and enjoying the great outdoors.
With better weather just around the corner, growing, potting and generally getting mucky in the flower beds are ideal activities to get kids outside and off their devices.
Gardening is a great way for youngsters to learn about nature, responsibility and patience. It can help with sensory development, social skills, healthy eating and support learning in school on topics such as weather and minibeasts.
From growing your own fruit to decorating plant pots, experts at home and garden retailer Garden Mile gave us these tips on enthusing children about horticulture.
Get your hands dirty
Show them there’s nothing to fear from getting your hands dirty and handling bugs and insects by digging around the soil and finding a few worms.
It’s fun and good for their mental health, with research showing gardeners have better wellbeing and lower stress levels than non-gardeners.
As well as brightening up the garden, planting sunflowers can make a great competition as you see whose flower grows the tallest.
Sunflowers are easy to care for so are perfect for teaching children about plant maintenance before they move onto trickier plants.
Grow your own fruit and vegetables
Choose a designated spot for your child to plant seeds; giving them their own spot allows them to become more comfortable and familiar with gardening.
Make sure it’s a sunny spot and let them choose their own seeds so they will enjoy eating the fruit and vegetables they produce.
Add some garden décor
Let them choose some garden ornaments, both to spruce up your space and allow them to contribute to the overall look of your outdoor space.
Decorate plant pots
Children will love cheering up boring old brown plant pots. Decorate them with paint and they will love to see their artwork on display in the garden.
Set up a bird-feeding station
Seeing birds visit your garden is exciting for children and a great family activity. It also makes the garden a year-round focus, as birds mainly need feeding in the winter months.
Either use small pots to create a feeding station or erect a decorative feeder and fill it with bird feed. You can also add nest boxes, and kids will be delighted to see birds move in.
Build a garden den
Children adore an outdoor den – it’s a perfect spot for them to cool down and relax after being outdoors, particularly on a warm day.
You can create one together using branches and logs and, for a longer term project, even choose some vining plants for the base that can be guided upwards to create an enclosed space, such as honeysuckle.