Encouraging kids to garden is not that difficult. Most kids enjoy planting seeds and watching them grow. And let's face it, wherever dirt is, kids are usually close by. One of the best ways to encourage enthusiasm for gardening is by creating a garden theme, especially one that appeals to the senses. Keep reading for ideas on gardening with kids using themes.
Choosing a Garden Theme for Kids
Kids not only enjoy plants with various shapes and colors but aromatic plants are pleasing to them as well. They also love touching soft, fuzzy plants and eating sweet, juicy fruits. However, always make sure your kids are aware of the dangers associated with poisonous plants and avoid them whenever possible. Adding features that create various sounds, such as water fountains and wind chimes, will also spark interest. When it comes to choosing a theme for the garden, let the kids decide. A theme can be based on a favorite game, story character, place, animal, hobby, or even an educational focus. Anything goes; there are endless possibilities. Children have a natural gift when it comes to imagination, so picking a theme should not be a problem.
Favorite game theme
What child doesn't like candy? Using the game Candy Land as your theme, turn this passion into a garden just for them. Add plants and objects relating to the theme. Plant possibilities might include:
- Chocolate cosmos
- 'Peppermint stick' zinnia
- Chocolate mint
- Fountain grass
- Sweet alyssum
- Candy corn plant
- Wild cinnamon
- 'Candy-stick' tulip
- Chocolate vine
Enclose the garden with a picket fence and include meandering paths lined with plastic candy canes. You could even use cocoa beans for mulch, though use with caution around dogs.
Favorite character theme
A storybook theme can be accomplished from choosing plants and objects associated with a particular story or character, such as Cinderella. Include:
Maybe your child enjoys stories relative to frogs such as "The Frog Prince" or "The Princess and the Frog." Include plants related to the story and accent with garden frogs and toadstools. You can even add a small pond to invite frogs to the garden.
Kids enjoy playing in and around barns, so why not use this concept to create a barnyard garden. Some ideas to include for this theme are rustic benches and winding paths of:
Old fences, ladders, and even sunflowers make lovely backdrops for vines like morning glories. Sunflowers are also a good way to give seclusion to the garden by planting them around the outer edges, or by creating a sunflower house. Water accents might include half-barrel ponds or even troughs. Other plants for a barnyard theme include:
- Hens and chicks
- Bee balm
- Flowering tobacco
- Goat's beard
- Lamb's ear
- Colt's foot
- Peacock orchid
- Hay-scented fern
Kids love animals, and this can become a theme for the garden too, like the barnyard theme or a zoo garden. Plants with interesting animal names can be incorporated such as any of the following:
- Monkey flower
- Tiger lily
- Buffalo grass
- Ostrich fern
- Piggyback plant
- Butterfly weed
- Owl's clover
- Rattlesnake grass
There are endless possibilities for this one. Include ornamental animals with the chosen plants.
Prehistoric dinosaur theme
Many children are intrigued by dinosaurs; use this as a prehistoric garden theme. Include plants such as:
Add dinosaur footprints, water fountains, interesting fossils, and stones along paths.
Career or hobby theme
Professional-themed gardens are related to careers or hobbies with which children are interested in pursuing. Maybe your child wants to become a firefighter. Suitable plants for this theme might include:
Mulch plants with crushed brick. Accent the garden with old fire boots and hats, ladders, and hoses. Do you have a potential seamstress in the making? Try a garden full of plants like:
- 'Adam's needle' yucca
- Silver lace vine
- Ribbon grass
- Pincushion flower
- Bachelor's button
- Woolly thyme
- Bead tree
Scatter buttons of various sizes and colors within the mulch and accent the garden with bows and baskets. Some kids love looking at the stars with dreams of becoming astronauts. How about a garden themed around outer space? Implement small planets, stars, and rockets throughout the garden. Add plants such as:
Is your child into music? Include the following plants:
If you have young kids, an educational theme can make learning more fun. For instance, an alphabet garden can help teach kids their ABC's in a fun way. Include enough plants to cover all 26 letters of the alphabet, allowing them to decide. Signs can be made to identify each plant along with an interesting object that begins with the same letter. Examples of plants might include:
- Balloon flower
- Elephant ears
- Ostrich fern
- Queen Anne's lace
- Umbrella plant
You can also teach kids about colors by implementing small areas that are designated specifically to a particular color of the rainbow. Choose plants relating to individual colors (such as red, blue, pink, purple, orange, green, white, black, gray/silver, yellow) and allow your child to label the areas with the appropriate color. Children love nature as well as using their imagination; and with a little encouragement, these can be put together to create a fun-filled garden of their very own.
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Nikki Tilley has been gardening for nearly three decades. The former Senior Editor and Archivist of Gardening Know How, Nikki has also authored six gardening books.
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