Garden Features For Kids – How To Make Play Gardens

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By Mary H. Dyer, Master Naturalist and Master Gardener

Television and video games have their place, but making a garden play area is a great way to entice your kids away from electronic gadgets and introduce them to the glory of gardening and the wonders of nature. Making a play garden doesn’t require a lot of time or money, but the payoffs are huge. Read on for a few children’s play garden ideas.

How to Make Play Gardens for Kids

How to make play gardens? There’s really nothing to it! Simply designate a small space just for kids – a few square feet is plenty. If you don’t have a yard, you can make a children’s play garden on your balcony, using a wading pool, a large plastic storage container, or anything that will hold dirt. If you choose to use a plastic container, be sure to drill a few small holes in the bottom; otherwise, your play garden will be a soggy mess every time it rains.

When you’re planning a play garden, keep in mind that dirt is the most important element! If the thought makes you a little squeamish, consider this: The National Wildlife Federation reports that contact with dirt improves kids’ mood, reduces stress, improves classroom performance, and that’s not all – the healthy bacteria in dirt actually strengthens the immune system! Of course, you can always fall back on play sand too.

Although it isn’t an absolute necessity, some type of border outlines the play garden and makes the area feel special. Take a look at inexpensive flower bed edging available at any home improvement or garden center. You can also outline the area with pretty, low-growing plants. For example, plant a few bright bloomers, like dwarf zinnias or gerbera daisies, or nice-to-touch plants like lamb’s ear or dusty miller.

Garden Features for Kids

So what goes in the play garden? When it comes to garden features for kids, keep it simple and consider what will make the garden fun. Most kids love to play with various containers such as plastic watering cans, sand buckets, plastic bowls or old pots and pans, baking sheets, muffin tins or various other mud pie containers.

Invest a few dollars in sturdy, kid-sized garden tools like miniature trowels, shovels and rakes. Don’t buy cheap tools that break easily; frustration can detract from the joy of a play garden.

Children’s Play Garden Ideas

Remember that a play garden is for your kids. Include them in planning, and then let them claim total ownership.

If you have space, include a small patch of grass to provide a soft area for playing. You can even plant grass in a plastic basin or baking pan.

Consider placing a bird feeder near the garden, or a few plant butterfly-friendly plants nearby.

If possible, part of the play garden should be in shade to prevent sunburn during hot afternoons. Most kids love a special, floppy hat just for gardening. Also, remember the sunscreen.

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