How To Make Gardening Fun For Children

Gardening can be a fun activity for all of the family to enjoy. As well as it being something different for the children to experience, it can also be extremely beneficial for their wellbeing and education. Together with Suttons, an online retailer and gardening expert, I am going to take a look at the benefits of gardening for children and ways to encourage their participation. I’ve seen how Jack is when he is in the garden and it really boosts him, both physically and mentally whilst he also learns more. 

Benefits of children gardening

There are plenty of benefits of children spending time in the garden — both from an educational and health perspective. But do you know what they are?

Would you believe that there is a worrying statistic that three-quarters of UK children spend less time outdoors than prison inmates? How mad is that? Children are becoming more interested in tablets and smartphones (I can’t lie, Jack would sit in all day on the tablet if he could) and tend to spend more time in the house. Gardening is a great way to get them involved with something different outside.

For younger children, messy play helps to enhance their sensory development. This could involve letting them play with the mud, splash in some puddles and get their hands dirty – Jack used to love doing this and I can’t wait to take Olivia out to do this! It can help your child build their vocabulary too by becoming exposed to plants and creatures that they wouldn’t if they were indoors. Their interest can be captivated with brightly coloured flowers and scented plants.

The research that has been carried out has all shown positive impacts of gardening on children’s behaviour and skill development. So what has this research found?

  • After participating in a one-year gardening programme as part of their school curriculum, children aged 8-11 showed a significant increase in the ability to work in groups compared to those children who didn’t participate at all which is fantastic.
  • Children who grow their own food are more likely to eat fresh fruits and vegetables or at least express a preference for these foods. I can definitely agree with this, whenever Jack used to grow stuff with my Dad, he would always eat it.
  • Youth interns in community gardens reported increases in maturity and interpersonal skills.
  • Students expressed an increased understanding of ecology and responsibility to care for the environment.

Activities to try

There are plenty of different activities to try in the garden. As well as having structured games, it can be good to let your child take the lead on what they want to do in the garden. They might use their own imagination to come up with an activity that you can both get involved in.

For older children, you could create a bird feeder out of a plastic bottle to encourage wildlife into the garden. This is easy enough to do by following these simple steps.

  1. Create 2 holes opposite each other at the bottom of the bottle, insert a stick through this and this will become a perch
  2. Make feeding holes close to the perch (not too big or else the feed will fall out)
  3. Create holes in the neck of the bottle, you can pass string through here and hang the bottle from a branch
  4. Unscrew the lid and fill with seeds for the birds!

For smaller children, you could take them around the garden and search for clues to which animals have visited. This could be in the form of feathers, tiny tracks or snail trails. Such a lovely idea.

Grow their own

As well as playing games and getting crafty, you can also grow plants and vegetables with children. This is a good way for them to get regularly involved in the garden and monitor their own progress.

Trees

Growing a tree is understandably a long-term gardening project, but it can be fun for a child to see how their tree is growing over time.

Easy seeds to grow in the garden are:

  • Conkers. These can be collected from a horse chestnut tree
  • Acorns from an oak tree
  • Helicopters from a sycamore tree

These can all be planted in a pot with soil and compost. It is likely that it will be around spring when the seed sprouts — you may have to transfer it to a bigger pot eventually.

Seeds

Planting seeds with your children that are easy to sow and quick growing are fab for keeping their attention and interest levels in the garden. Vegetables such as potatoes, carrots and spring onions are all easy to grow and maintain.

To encourage healthy eating, plant those that they like to eat so they can follow the journey of the seed from planting to their plate!

There are other plants that are fun to grow. Suttons sell vegetable seeds and a range of fun seeds that have been designed for children. These include:

  • Cress — a fast-growing plant that can be grown indoors and outdoors and added to a salad afterwards.
  • Sunflowers — tall growing so children can practise their measuring skills as it grows.
  • A Mimosa Pudica (a dancing plant) that when it is touched, its leaves ‘dance’ and curl up tightly.

The list of activities is endless that you can do with your children in the garden. Get outdoors and get involved with your child and you’ll soon see the benefits!  

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Doing Up Our Garden For Summer

I’ve mentioned before that we have quite a small garden but we do like to give it a makeover when it comes to the summertime. Despite the size, it is important for Jack and Olivia to get out and about out there.

I’m always looking for good deals for items for the garden, whether it comes to patio and garden furniture or items for the kids to play on outside. In a perfect world, if we had a bigger garden, I just know that we’d have a massive playset in the garden, a goal for the boys to play football, a putting green for the boys and some nice garden furniture for myself and Olivia to relax on whilst the males get their sport on.

Unfortunately this isn’t the case but I can do my garden up as best as possible for us all to enjoy.as the summer months roll in. You know I am always keen to get a good deal – it isn’t like I haven’t mentioned it before – so I’m always looking to see what deals there are around. One such site that I always head to is Groupon – I can almost always guarantee that I will be able to find what I am looking for, usually with a vastly marked down price. When you are working to a budget, deals are vital and when you have kids, you want them to have the best quality but don’t always want to pay the prices that best quality products command.

I am still looking for the perfect playhouse for the kids – I never got one when Jack was younger but now we have the two kids, I feel it is something we need as Jack will have someone to play outside with him all summer. I’ve been looking up prices and some are so extortionate – I just cannot justify paying half a month’s rent on something that is essentially a toy for the kids. I know it is something they will enjoy and that they will get a lot of use out of but it just seems like such a lot of money!

I’m also hoping to make the garden a little more colourful too – we have this gorgeous plant that flowers every year but it is the only pop of colour our garden seems to have. It would be amazing to have a garden that I’d be happy to sit in rather than unhappy to go in unless I have to – so I am going to be looking for the best deals on plants that will stand the test of time, I don’t want to be buying some to die just a few weeks later.

Finally, I want to get some decent garden furniture. I would love to be able to sit out there on a summer’s evening with Steve when the kids have gone to bed with a ice cold bottle of fruit cider and just chat about our day. I used to do this with my friends when we first moved in six years ago but haven’t done it for so long and no longer have the furniture.

I’m hoping that come the end of May, my garden will be all done up for summer and I can enjoy it – and have kept to budget too. Do you look for deals like me when it comes to home and garden items?

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The Four Seasons: A Year Round Garden Fit For Spring And Back

The calendar says March and the boffins tell us that means it’s spring, but we Brits know better. Thanks to the Gulf Stream and global warming, the seasons are lasting longer. The mini “Beast from the East”, for example, has just left a new trail of snowy destruction in its path. Sure, the weather should be warming up, but we will believe it when we see it happen with our peepers! For gardeners, it isn’t a joking matter because the bad weather kills plants and flowers dead. And, it takes plenty of money, time and effort to create an amazing outdoor living space.

Drastic times call for drastic measures, so here’s how to develop a year-round garden.

Plant For Autumn And Winter

Spring and summer plants are beautiful and colourful, but they are flimsy. One strong gust of wind and they will get ripped out by the roots. What you need is vegetation which is durable and sturdy while visually beautiful at the same time. Step forward autumn and winter flowers. Bred to survive the British elements, they are as strong as an ox and hold up perfectly well in bad conditions. Plus, they mix purples, browns and greens to great effect. For the best results, add a bit of colour when the weather turns with roses, tulips and daffodils.

 Gaelle Marcel

Buy With Rain In Mind

Even when it’s supposed to be warm, the British weather throws a curveball. Well, it isn’t a surprise any longer because we have been getting wet summers for years. Therefore, you are better off planning for the devil you know rather than hoping and wishing for a change. Take furniture as an example. To begin with, wood or galvanised is a savvy option because they don’t erode as much as wet steel. Next, check out waterproof cushions at Bridgman so you don’t have to wash them every five minutes. Finally, fix the shed so it doesn’t leak.

Build An Outdoor Space

The term “outdoor space” doesn’t mean a garden. It means a place you can enjoy regardless of the weather or time of year. Picture having a BBQ while the rain pours down. Never appealing at first, but people change their mind when they see a roof. Shelter allows you to use the space outside without getting wet through and having a terrible day. Underneath the screen, add comfy furniture and a space heater in case the mercury drops.

Be Transparent

It’s okay putting up barriers to protect garden elements from, ahem, the elements, but there’s a risk. Opaque materials will block the light from the sun and stunt the growth of plants and flowers. Even autumn and winter shrubbery will struggle to flourish if it doesn’t get enough UV radiation. Thankfully, you can have your cake and eat it by building transparent shelters which stop the weather yet let through sunlight. A greenhouse is a typical example, just on a large scale.

Do you want a garden that lasts all year round? Can you think of any other methods to add to this list?

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Garden Design Trends To Expect In 2018

There are plenty of garden design trends to expect in 2018 and Rattan Direct’s handy guide lists plenty of them. I currently have quite a small garden but I am keen to utilise some of the information they have given for my very own garden.

There is the wabi-sabi trend where you sit back and look upon your garden, imperfections and all. Wabi sabi is actually a Japanese word which very loosely translated means ‘rustic’ and has been practised in Japan since the 15th century. It stands for the beauty of things imperfect, incomplete and unconventional. In short, it is a nod to natures natural cycle of growth, decay, and death.

If that is not your thing, then there is bringing the outdoors in. Not everyone has a garden so indoor gardens are having a resurgence. People are buying houseplant – some big ones to resemble garden plants and others to compliment their actual home decor.

There’s even talk about reclaiming small spaces – something I need to do as my garden is so tiny. It means utilising the space to the maximum – planters that can slot onto balcony rails if you live in a flat, hanging plant holders. Everything here needs to have a multi purpose use.

These are just a few of the garden trends expected in 2018 – check out Rattan Direct’s guide for the full list.

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Your gardening planner for the Winter months

It is no secret that the winter months are not exactly ideal for gardening. The ground is hard, the weather is unkind and there is just a general feeling that you would rather not be outside. However, the truth is, winter is still a great time to get out in your garden, you are just going to need to know the things to target and tackle!

With this in mind, we have put together our handy gardening planner that you can use to plan in your garden tasks during the winter months.

Think about cleaning or replacing your garden furniture

During the summer there is good chance that your garden furniture got plenty of use, however, is it now left discarded and unwanted in your garden? If it has, then it is likely to be looking a little worse for wear. So, what should you do? When it comes to wooden benches and other forms of garden furniture, rather than having to replace it, you may find that it simply needs a good clean. This is particularly true if it is made from durable materials that are designed to stand the test of time. Something that you will so often find with wooden benches and garden furniture in general.

Get composting

There are a variety of great things about composting, one of them is that you can do it all year round. In fact, during the autumn and winter months you are likely to find that you have even more bits and bobs in the garden that you can add into the compost pile. Leaves and other things are going to be falling off the tree, which means that you can go around picking them up and turning them into incredibly valuable food for your plants when you do plant them.

Give everything a tidy

It can often seem during the winter months that your garden becomes a little on the untidy side. This means that there is no better excuse to get out there and get tidying. As you will have seen above, any plant matter can be popped onto the compost pile, which is a great idea. Not only this, but you can also trim back any plants, shrubs or trees that have become a little unruly, as this will be so much easier with bare branches rather than branches packed full of leaves.

Think about what you are going to plant in the spring

It may not seem like it in the depths of winter, but before we know it the spring will be here and it will be time to get planting. This means that it really pays to think about what you want to plant in your garden. Not only will this give you enough time to prepare the soil and buy the seeds, but you can also think about placement, care and how to make sure that those seeds grow into something special. All very welcome things if you are slightly less than green fingered.

Consider the wildlife

It isn’t just us people who find the winter months hard, or animal friends do too. Our gardens are somewhat of a wildlife haven even if you don’t realise it, which means that you are going to need to make an effort to help those creatures that might visit your garden. Depending on the type of animals that you are likely to see, you are going to need to put out food and shelter for them, making sure that this doesn’t attract any predators that could cause a problem for them.

Organise your shed

Have you found that your shed has become a little on the messy side? This means that you may need to take some time to sort it out. You are unlikely to need some of the tools and equipment just at the moment, which means that there has never been a better time to check them all over, make sure they are in good condition and that they are being properly stored. That way, when you need them in a few weeks time, you will know exactly where to find them!

As you can see, just because it is winter, that doesn’t mean that you have to give up on your garden. So grab your wellies and a woolly hat and brave the cold, you never know just good you can get you garden looking, despite the grey and drab weather conditions that  you might find lurking outside.

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