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Encourage your children to get involved in the garden

11th January 2018 Print

Despite popular belief that it is a relaxing activity for the older generation, gardening is in fact exciting for all of the family. Together with Suttons, an online retailer and gardening expert, we take a look at the benefits of gardening for children and ways to encourage their participation in the following guide.

What are the benefits?

The benefits are endless for children spending time in the garden — including educational and health advantages. 

It is quite worrying when we consider the statistic which shows that three-quarters of UK children spend less time outdoors than prison inmates. Children are becoming more interested in tablets and smartphones and tend to spend more time in the house. Gardening is a great way to get them involved with something different outside. 

Gardening is a good way to improve sensory development in younger children. This could involve letting them play with the mud, splash in some puddles and get their hands dirty! It helps 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.

Research has proven that there are many benefits for children when they spend time in the garden. Some findings include: 

- 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. 

- Children who grow their own food are more likely to eat fresh fruits and vegetables or at least express a preference for these foods. 

- 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.

What activities can you try?

There are loads of things that you can do with your children in the backyard! 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.

Older children might enjoy getting hands-on, such as by creating a bird feeder from scratch. This is easy enough to do:

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!

With smaller children, create an exciting trail around the garden. You can search for clues to which animals have visited. This could be in the form of feathers, tiny tracks or snail trails.

Why not grow your own?

In addition to playing games and making activities, why not grow your own plants and vegetables? This is a good way for children to get regularly involved in the garden and monitor their own progress.


Trees are actually easier to grow than you might think — it can be exciting for children to see their tree growing too. 

Some easy trees to grow are: 

- Conkers. These can be collected from a horse chestnut tree

- Acorns from an oak tree

- Helicopters from a sycamore tree

All of these can be planted simply in a plant pot with soil! It is likely that it will be around spring when the seed sprouts, though you may have to transfer it to a bigger pot eventually.


There are many easy to grow seeds out there that your children will find exciting to grow. 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 lots of other seeds that are fun to grow too. 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.

As we can see, there’s so much fun to be had in the garden. Get outdoors and get involved with your child and you’ll soon see the benefits!