In a world of social media, video games and digital entertainment finding great garden ideas for kids can be challenging. It has become apparent in recent years that children whom spend more time outside in the garden are happier and healthier.
Robust, physical exercise combined with experiencing green spaces can boost their well being. starting them off young can set them in good stead for a healthy adulthood.
The question is with such stiff competition for their attention what are the best garden ideas for kids to get them outside?
There are so many games as well as hobby crafts and gardening pursuits which can enrich young minds! Such activities combine learning with physical activities leading to a healthy balance between body and mind.
For this reason we have put together our top garden ideas for kids to get them excited this summer.
1. Insect Hotels
Insect hotels are effectively nesting boxes for certain types of beneficial bugs including solitary wasps and bees. These hotels replace once common habitat which these species relied upon to complete their lifecycles.
With our modern garden habits of extensive hard landscaping and tidy minimalist gardens ideal insect habitat is scarce. These insect hotels provide plenty of nooks and crannies for mini beasts to thrive overwinter and lay their eggs. These are great garden ideas for kids as they can learn to identify small insects expanding observation skills and stimulate an interest in both ecology and biology.
Not only are insect hotels available to buy they are also fun and inexpensive to make! By using recycled materials such as pallets, boxes and rubble insect hotels can become an ecological feature in the garden. Building these from scratch can help to develop skills such as hand eye coordination and concentration. We have placed some great images of these for inspiration below.
2. Container Gardening
One of the biggest challenges when introducing children to gardening is scale. Most garden beds and borders are just too large and difficult to manage for young children. This makes growing in containers a fantastic way to get them started in a manageable fashion. The great thing about container gardening is it allows you to consolidate all your growing in a more compact space.
Containers also allow you to choose a good quality growing medium such as compost. This makes it easier to weed and with a rich soil easy for plants to thrive. This makes container growing a great garden idea for kids especially if they plan on growing vegetables.
Growing containers can be just a collection of small pots or even larger raised beds. These also help to raise the growing level up off the ground. This can make the whole process of gardening more accessible and enjoyable for kids.
3. Germinating seeds
If there is one thing that gets children more excited about gardening than any other it is germinating seeds. Germination shows the miracle of life springing out of a small seed and can captivate curious minds.
Some seeds are easier to germinate than others so it is always advisable to start with easy ones. Seeds such as broad beans and sunflowers are some of the easiest to get children started.
Most people who have been interested in gardening since they were young were first inspired by germinating seeds.
When planning what to grow try to think about what plants you would like to see in your garden. Generally children like to grow things they can see with a reward at the end. This could be beautiful flowers or tasty, healthy snacks.
Wormeries are effectively living, breathing worm farms where worms can turn vegetable food waste into fertiliser. Worms are nature’s way of breaking down dead plants and turning them into rich compost.
A fully functioning wormery can home thousands of worms and convert a surprising amount of waste into fertile soil. Worms create very nutrient rich compost known as 'black gold' which is highly prized among gardeners.
Wormeries come in a variety of shapes and sizes from basic compost heaps to large plastic towers. The most effect wormeries allow you to add waste to the top and harvest fertiliser from the bottom.
Wormeries are a fun way to learn about recycling for children. Wormeries can introduce kids to the concept of ecological sustainability and environmental science.
Composting is a great way to recycle waste materials such as weeds and hedge clippings in the garden. Composting utilises the natural breaking down processes of fungi and bacteria within the soil. This organic process is extremely effective at showing Children that the world is full of complex life.
Composting helps create healthy soil and has directly facilitated the growth of all healthy life on earth. There are so many ways you can incorporate composting into the garden for kids.
some of the best composters are ones that allow you to turn the compost with minimal effort. Composters such as tumblers and rolling composters are a fun way for children to get involved in gardening.
6. Build a Terrarium
A Terrarium is a transparent vessel which houses a miniature growing environment. They have a small opening for planting, watering and allowing air to circulate. Due to the enclosure they evolve their very own form of hydraulic cycle. This causes a moist and humid atmosphere.
Terrariums are perfect for building in your garden creating a controlled growing space. Fish tank type transparent enclosures can be built into the hard landscaping. These can be very effective at creating a framed view or scene within the garden.
These can hold a tropical garden or even a desert scheme perfect for succulents and cacti. Terrariums are perfect garden ideas for kids and fun for them to take care of and observe.
7. Make seed bombs
Seed bombs are small balls of clay and compost which contain seeds of beneficial plants These are made to spread seeds to inaccessible areas such as railways or wastelands. However these can also be so much fun for children.
Seed bombs are so easy to make and relatively inexpensive. Buy seeds you want to grow such as vegetables or wildflowers that attract butterflies. Mix them with compost and moist clay and simply roll them into balls.
Allow them to dry out and then prepare a part of the garden to throw them. This is best done before heavy rain. You may know of local waste ground that could benefit local wildlife by spreading wildflowers.
8. Giant Connect 4
When summertime comes around and the weather is fine there is nothing like a good game for the garden. It is common for such activities to require vigorous exercise but not so with this game. Connect 4 is a classic game widely recognised with memories from childhood.
Its simplicity makes it so light hearted and entertaining. With Giant connect 4 you can now enjoy time with your kids in the garden. This means you can have fun with the family and still relax. Giant connect 4 is a great garden idea for kids as well as parties and family get togethers.
9. Making Bird boxes
Making bird boxes is a marvellous way to provide safe nesting places for wild birds. With less naturally occurring nest sites available bird boxes have become essential for bird populations. Birds are extremely beneficial for the environment helping to reduce garden pests such as caterpillars and slugs.
Not only are bird’s good pest controllers they are also a joy to have around. Their beautiful songs and vibrant variation bring an interest and magic to the garden. Bird boxes are actually very easy to make and can even be put together with waste materials.
Old pallets are perfect for making bat boxes which are interesting garden ideas for kids. After teaching them some DIY skills you can watch in anticipation every spring time.
10. Build a wildlife pond
There is nothing better you can do to attract wildlife to your garden than build a wildlife pond. These are a fun and educational way of teaching children about nature and ecology. Building a wildlife pond with children can also be lots of fun.
Digging the ground and wheeling away the excess soil can be great exercise for all the family. By including kids in the making of something has been shown to increase their ownership of it.
This can be a great way to get them interested in wildlife and spend more time outdoors in the fresh air. Experiencing green, natural environments has been shown to enhance well being and a reduce stress.
11. Den making
For kids nothing is more exciting than creating a den or hideaway in the garden. Den making can not only be fun it can be great for learning new skills.
Children have been making dens in the woods for generations so why not initiate it at home. You can create a corner of the garden where there are piles of materials such as sticks and old pallets.
These can be loosely arranged so dens can be built and taken down easily. Alternatively you can build a more permanent structure with them that can be added to, clad or decorated. A good example of this is by creating a Tepee structure. Den making is a great garden idea for kids that will encourage new skills and keep them entertained for hours.
12. Make a green wall
Green walls are an excellent to make use of vertical space in the garden. Typically outside walls, fences and buildings are rather bland and boring.
By providing a vertical growing medium green walls create the perfect opportunity for extra interest in the garden. Green walls come in a wide variety of different systems.
Some of the simplest are mountable pocket or modular systems which can be filled with soil. This allows the perfect place to grow herbs, succulents or even vegetables. The type of things you plant in your green wall will depend on how much you can irrigate your wall. Planting these walls and mounting them are perfect and fun activities for kids and the whole family.
13. Build a hedgehog home
Hedgehogs are incredibly beautiful and beneficial animals for the garden. They roam the neighbourhood at night seeking out pests such as slugs and snails.
If disturbed or threatened hedgehogs can amazingly roll themselves up into a tight ball. Unfortunately in recent times hedgehogs have become significantly lower in number.
This is due to lack of habitat and a reduction in suitable nesting sites. Why not help hedgehogs in your area as well as create a fun garden project by making a hedgehog home. This can be done with wood, stone or even recycled waste.
14. Install a weather station
The forces of the weather cannot be underestimated. It can affect our mood, actions and can be both destructive and constructive.
The science of monitoring the weather is ever changing. Weather forecast modelling can now measure the weather a week in advance with amazing accuracy. However sophisticated scientific modelling is not needed if you wish to study local weather patterns.
A great garden idea for kids is to install your very own weather station. These can be digital or traditional which can be fun for the whole family. These are a great way to get your children interested in science and the natural world around them.
15. Gardening duties for cash
Although gardening can be fun for keen gardeners there are some jobs which are more of a chore. Trimming hedges, mowing and weeding are just some of these little inconveniences.
This does however provide an opportunity for kids to earn some extra pocket money. With plenty of gardening jobs always needed to be carried out why not put your children to work! Not only will you get those monotonous jobs done your kids may find a new passion for the outdoors.
Perhaps try to integrate some fun garden duties into the mix like sowing vegetable seeds. Perhaps you could hold a gardening competition for them throughout the season.
One of the things about gardens is they are always exposed to the elements. Every year rain, cold temperatures and the suns UV Ray’s batters garden furniture, surfaces and facades.
Repainting decks, fences and sheds can be one of those maintenance tasks which simply never seem to get competed. However painting the garden can be a therapeutic and even fun way for your children to enjoy the outside.
This can not only help to preserve garden features it can also include some artistic expression. Fences and walls do not always have to come in the same old boring colours! These can painted in all sorts of decorative and exciting ways.
You can even decide to paint intricate artwork into the garden landscaping. This can be a really fun way for kids to spend sunny days in the garden. They may even discover a new talent in the process.
17. Bird watching
Some of the most exciting ways to enjoy the garden is to experience the wild creatures that visit it. Birds have the ability to travel large distances and can visit many gardens within one week.
By making your garden more attractive to birds you can get your children interested in the joy of bird watching. This can be an exciting and interactive way for your children to make good use of the garden.
Perhaps buy your kids a good book on the art of bird watching or an illustrated guide of garden birds in your area. One really fun activity is installing new garden feeders and bird boxes.
The waiting and anticipation of attracting your first avian guest can be invigorating. You can even install bird boxes with a built in camera system so you can watch a mother raise her young.
18. Keeping chickens
Keeping chickens used to be a very popular affair a few decades ago but is now coming back into fashion. Chickens are a relatively low maintenance animals to keep and actually earn their keep by rewarding you with fresh eggs.
Not only are they fun to have in the garden they also feed on pests and weeds! Chickens will also scratch up ground, trim grass and provide the most amazing manure fertiliser for the garden. They are a great way to introduce your kids to the idea of self sufficiency and ecological balance.
Chickens can have great personalities and can become a much loved part of the family. Generally their main needs are fresh water; feed and a secure enclosure to deter predators.
19. Herb gardening
One of the simplest methods of introducing children to the concept of eating healthily, organic produce is to create a herb garden.
This can be a simple affair dedicating a small plot of ground to growing your favourite herbs. Sometimes the best way to do this is build raised growing beds a small distance from the kitchen. This allows you to build up a generous depth of free draining, fertile soil.
Herbs have foliage that is more pungent than ordinary edibles making them perfect for flavourings or even teas. Herb growing is great fun for kids from germinating annual herbs like basil to propagating shrub herbs like thyme and rosemary.
20. Plant a butterfly garden
Butterflies are not only beautiful they are also an important part of the local ecosystem. Some butterfly species only feed upon a single species of plant which will intern need the butterfly for pollination.
This demonstrates just how crucial it is to make suitable habitat for all garden wildlife where ever possible. In recent times butterfly numbers have plummeted due to a lack habitat and over development by people.
It is great to get children involved in conservation when very young. A great way to do this is by planting a butterfly garden. Just select a part of the garden you don’t always use and plant local plants that butterflies love. You can even install a butterfly feeding station.
21. Giant Jenga
Giant Jenga is a game consisting of multiple oblong wooden pieces which are placed together to create a tower.
The aim of the game is to slowly remove pieces without causing the tower to come crashing down. This game is traditionally enjoyed in living rooms and public houses. However with this giant version multiple people can play all at once outside.
This is a great garden idea for kids parties as well as grownups too. There will never be a dull moment in your garden this summer for you or the family with this exciting game.
22. Garden Chalk boards
There is nothing like using the garden to teach the children a good lesson. Indeed chalk boards can be put up outside but that does not actually mean you have to conduct home schooling.
Outside chalk boards can be used as notice boards or for monitoring garden science projects. These garden chalk boards can also be used to play games and write reminder notes.
These come in a range of shapes and sizes or alternatively you can buy external chalk board paint. This can be applied to garden surfaces or sections of flat timber.
23. Videoing wildlife
Even urban gardens can be home to a surprising amount of wild creatures especially at night. Most of the time you will have night time visitors you never even imagined possible.
This brings a sense of mystery and discovery to the back yard, especially for children. However the only real way to discover what lurks in your garden at night is attempt to video it. This can be attempted in two ways.
The first is to patiently watch during the twilight hours and even in the middle of the night. This wait and watch approach is typical of wildlife photographers. However the most effective way is to use a digital, motion detecting trail camera.
These can be set up to capture images or video of anything which moves within the frame. This can be a great garden idea for kids and is lots of fun when checking the cameras.
24. Build a sand pit
Another great garden idea for kids is to make a sand pit. This can be a small, raised features filled with sand or a larger landscaped feature.
Large sandpits can sometimes be integrated into a rockery or desert feature. Even better a large sand pit can surround a play feature such as climbing frame or even wooden boat.
Some parents are put off from the idea of a sand pit due to animals like cats going to the toilet. This can be prevented by covering the pit with a tarp when not in use.
25. Lay a mosaic
Mosaics have been laid for thousands of years and are typical of both Roman and Greek settlements.
The thing that makes mosaics special is the fact they are very labour intensive and imposable to mass produce. This makes them a great way of creating something bespoke in the garden.
These can simply be made by various coloured stones laid in mortar or tiles cut into many small squares. These can be applied using an external tile adhesive. Mosaics can be a slow but rewarding project in the garden but great fun for kids.
26. Grow a Bonsai tree
The art of growing Bonsai has been practiced for thousands of years. Bonsai is basically the growing of trees in small pots which restrict roots and growth.
This creates a tree in miniature but continuous care is needed in order to keep its growing conditions optimum. Bonsai trees should be watered, clipped and misted little and often to keep them happy and looking their best.
An effective way of getting started with bonsai is to obtain a book on the subject or starter kit. The process of growing bonsai for children means they develop sense of responsibility, care, patience and concentration.
27. Make a vegetable patch
If there was a single garden idea for kids which had the most benefit to their health it would be growing vegetables. Children are more likely to want to eat vegetables if they have grown them themselves.
Not only are the vegetables themselves a healthy addition to your Childs diet gardening is great exercise! The continuous digging, bending, squatting and weeding is a great form of physical conditioning.
This can actually lead to enhanced mood and greater mental well being. Vegetable gardens are fun to make and also relatively easy. A popular way of doing this is to build raised garden beds. This can be done with timber or masonry. Why not check out our article on making a vegetable garden here.
28. Create a mud garden
Creating a mud garden isn’t the first thing that springs to mind when planning garden activities with the kids. But it has to be said playing with mud is a whole lot more fun than sand.
This is particularity the case with clay soils. When wet mud can be formed into numerous shapes and form and then when dry can go surprisingly hard. It is no surprise mud has been used to make homes and even ovens for thousands of years.
The truth is kids love playing with mud so why not dedicate a part of the garden to it. Dig over a flower bed in the garden; loosen the soil, add water and your all set!
29. Set up camp
There is nothing quite like getting back to nature and spending some time in the wild. There is something magical about sleeping out in nature.
It is no surprise therefore that thousands of people go camping every year. The extreme wilderness may be a little ambitious for your young explorers but they can always get started at home in the garden.
Setting up camp is great fun for kids who can include building shelters and making a camp fire. There are so many options when setting up camp in the garden as well as tents and hammocks. This is a great garden idea for kids whatever their age.
30. Build a model village
It may seem like an extraordinary idea but have you considered building a miniature village with the kids? Model villages can become small masterpieces of wonder within the landscape. A great example of a model village is the famous Beaconsfield model village in Buckinghamshire.
These can be beautifully landscaped within a garden setting complete with fish ponds and even model railways. There are plenty of model retailers which sell bespoke houses cars and figures for your village.
Model villages are a lot of fun for children and become an extension to their toy box. Who knows it may inspire them to become a great landscape planner, builder or architect.
Paul Nicolaides has over 30 years of recreational gardening and 20 years of professional landscaping experience. He has worked for landscape contractors including design and build practices across London and the South East. In 2006 he qualified with a BA Hons degree and post graduate diploma in Landscape Architecture. In 2009 he founded Ecospaces an ecological landscaping practice which aims to improve social cohesion and reduce climate change through landscaping. In 2016 he founded Buckinghamshire Landscape Gardeners which designs and builds gardens across Buckinghamshire and the South East. This blog aims to provide easy problem solving information to its audience and encourage others to take up the joy of landscaping and gardening.