A Simple Guide to Starting a Garden With Kids

Have you thought about starting a garden with your kids? It can seem like a difficult task – what should you plant, how can you get your kids involved, will it be too much work? I’m going to take you through the steps of how to build a garden with kids that you will ALL enjoy!

Gardening is a lot of fun. It can be fun on your own, but it is even more fun when you do it with your kids! Kids love to play outside and they want to discover the world around them.

If you’re thinking about starting a garden with your kids, this article is for you. I’m going to take you through the steps of how to build a garden that will be fun and educational for everyone involved!

Why You Should Build a Garden With Your Kids

Family starting a garden for kids

It’s so easy these days for kids’ lives to revolve around electronic devices. Parents do their best to offer different kid activities, but it can be hard to find things to do that your kids will enjoy (and you too!).

Building a garden with your children is a great way to spend time together and an ongoing project that is educational but also fun.

Don’t worry if you don’t have any experience growing things, there are plenty of easy-to-grow plants that you can start growing and learn along with your kids.

Teaching them how to grow and nurture vegetables and fruits will help them eat healthier food later in life too!

What is the Best Age to Start a Garden with Kids?

It is important for kids to know some basic skills before they start gardening. I recommend that you start your child around kindergarten.

Children at this age are willing to help. They also have the fine motor skills to handle plants without breaking them. It’s better if you start with children who are a little older than toddlers and preschoolers, but little kids can watch and help with less precise tasks.

child planting in a garden

You will need to supervise your children around water, dirt, or compost. Make sure that they never eat anything from the garden without you saying it’s OK. Once they get used to sampling things from the garden, you don’t want them randomly eating any leaf or flower that they find.

Most importantly, have fun with it! Gardening is a wonderful activity for families, which brings you closer together and gets you outside in the fresh air.

Where to Start a Garden with Your Kids?

The first thing you’ll need to do is find a spot to start your garden. Picking where to place your kid-friendly garden might be easy or it might be difficult, depending on your situation.

If you have a small yard or balcony, then your choices are limited. But you can get creative. Just start with one pot or planter. The size doesn’t matter, it’s still a great way for your kids to learn more about plants and nature. You could even start with some indoor herbs on a window sill in your kitchen.

Grow herbs on a window sill with kids

If you have a larger yard, then you could pick just one small area or bed and let your kids decide what they want to plant there.

No matter what size space you decide on, you will want it to be in a sunny location and protected from wind or cold (like against your house).

What Can You Grow in a Garden for Kids? 

Once you’ve decided where to put your garden, it’s time to start thinking about what plants you want to grow.

The most important thing is to let your child help you pick out what they want to grow. Talk with them about the foods that are easy to grow and which ones they would prefer in their part of the garden. It is better for them to be involved in the process from the beginning.

One of the first decisions when starting a garden with kids would be whether to plant vegetables and fruits or flowers. I would recommend vegetables and fruits, as kids love to see them grow, and then they can taste them too (and homegrown ALWAYS tastes better than store-bought!).

You can check with your local Extension Office (a wealth of information about gardening in your area) to find out what types or varieties of plants grow best in your area.

You’ll have the choice of growing most vegetables from seed or buying young plants. There are some veggies (like radishes) that are only grown from seed. But something like tomatoes, you can decide if you want to start from scratch or with a small plant.

This choice is up to you. In my experience, kids love to plant seeds, but if they take a while to germinate, then the kids can lose interest. Seeds are also much cheaper than plants. For just a dollar or two, you can get a packet of seeds that will produce a dozen or more plants!

If you decide to go with seeds, read the back of the seed packet together and explain to your kids what they need to do for their plant to grow: water, sunlight, and love (it’s really not that hard)!

Gardening Jobs for Kids

Starting a garden with kids isn’t just about teaching them how to grow food, it’s also an opportunity for them to learn new skills and get some exercise.

A great way to get kids excited about gardening is to get them their own set of gardening tools. There are soooo many choices out there! I recommend getting a set with metal tools instead of plastic. The plastic break easily which can lead to tantrums and upset!

Here are some ideas for kid-friendly gardening activities:

Weeding

Give your kids a little hand rake or a small flat shovel to pull up or dig out the weeds. You can also make weeding into a game by setting up targets in the garden and giving your kids a little basket to collect weeds in.

Seeds

Have your kids pick out seeds for the garden together and explain to them what they need to do for their plant to grow.

little girl planting seeds when starting a garden for kids

Watering

This is another task that you can easily share. Your child can use a small watering can or hose in the garden so they can easily water their plants without you having to do all of the work!

Growing

Have your kids look at their plants once a day to keep track of how they are doing, when they flower, when they bear fruit, etc. This will provide ample opportunity for learning about nature and biology. They can also check for signs of pests and disease too.

Harvesting

When it’s time to harvest the produce, give your kids a basket and let them pick whatever they want for dinner. Then give everyone a bowl of fresh fruit or vegetables and sit outside together to enjoy the fruits (or veggies!) of their labor!

The Best Plants for a Kid-Friendly Garden

Here are some plants that I recommend you use when starting a garden with kids.

Sunflowers

Guide your children towards easier starter plants such as sunflowers which will help bring bees and birds to your garden. These pollinators are an integral part of the gardening process.

Radishes

This was the first vegetable that I grew with my kids! They grow super fast and can be grown in a small pot or planter. Some kids don’t like the taste of radishes, but it’s amazing how eagerly they will try new foods when they have grown them themselves.

Radish - easy plant when starting a garden with kids

Beans

Bush beans and snap peas are good starter plants for children. They grow quickly, easily, and resist pests well. When you harvest them, they will grow more beans, so you will have lots of them to eat throughout the season.

Marigolds

Marigolds are a great flower for children to grow. They grow quickly and have pretty flowers that the children can pick. Marigolds can actually be eaten and make a great addition to a salad. They also protect other plants against some pests too!

Tomatoes

Tomatoes are super popular with kids too, but pick a hearty variety, as some of them are prone to pests and diseases. This is a great veggie to buy as a small plant. You can often find plants at your local nursery that already have some tomatoes on them, so your kids will be able to taste them much soon!

Grow tomatoes when gardening with kids

Bell Peppers

Bell peppers are easy to grow, and kids will enjoy helping pick them fresh for their dinner. Again, you can buy these as small plants with peppers already on them.

Helping Kids Plant Seeds 

If you’ve decided to use seeds to start your garden with your kids, you’ll need to teach them how to plant, water, and germinate seeds.

Here are the basic supplies that you’ll want to have available when planting your seeds:

Try to save your pots for this season’s planting to use next year! You can also buy biodegradable pots that you can simply plant along with your seedling after you are done.

You can also buy kits that will contain everything you need to get started! I love this kit from Grow & Make. It has a nice variety of kid-friendly seeds to get you started with your garden.

Have your child carefully fill the tray or pot with soil and gently place the seeds into the soil. Depending on the type of plant, you can also sow some seeds directly into the ground. Read the seed pack instructions for how deep and far apart to plant them.

You should also plant a few more seeds than you think you will need, as not all seeds will germinate. And sometimes your children’s aim won’t be as accurate as it could be!

Place the pots or trays in a sunny location and be sure to not let the soil dry out too much. But also be sure that the soil isn’t soaking wet all the time, or the seeds might rot.

Once seedlings have sprouted, then you can encourage your kids to help water them and watch them grow. It’s important to keep young plants watered, but not too much water either.

child plant tomato plants

Starting Seeds Indoors

You can get a jump on the growing season (and have a fun winter activity to do) by starting your seeds indoors. This can be done on a sunny windowsill or sun porch where they will get plenty of light and warmth from all sides.

Be careful that your seedlings don’t get too much direct sunlight through the window as they can burn. When they start to get their first leaves, you can move them into a brighter area or outside on a patio if the weather is warm enough.

Growing & Harvesting

The exact steps needed to grow and harvest your plants will depend on the type of plants you picked. For example, some plants will let your child harvest an entire plant, while others will continue producing yummy treats all season long.

Harvesting your fruit or veggies is perhaps the most fun part of starting a garden with your kids. They will get to sample the fruits of their labor and it makes them feel very special.

This is also a great teaching moment for your kids—they can see where food comes from. Talk to them about the difference between the food you’re picking and the ones you buy in the store (odd shapes, nicer taste, etc.).

Learning Together

mother and daughter starting a garden with kids

Starting a garden with kids is a great way to spend time together. Your children are going to love getting their hands dirty as they plant seeds, weed the garden, harvest vegetables, and fruits – all while learning about where food comes from. And who doesn’t love eating delicious homegrown tomatoes right off the vine?! You’re going to create memories that last forever. Isn’t that what being a parent is all about?