Gardening is good for the soul. Going outside and digging in the dirt has the potential to benefit you in so many ways, including helping you to relieve stress and get more vitamin D. Not only is gardening a great activity to do as a family, but it’s also a good hobby for kids to do on their own—especially when you have creative garden ideas.
Studies have shown that when kids garden, it encourages them to eat healthier, teaches them how to cooperate effectively in groups, and helps them do better in science. I’ve seen it with my own two kids, who have been gardening since they could walk. (They had little choice at that age, having a mother who worked for a gardening magazine and wrote gardening books. Though thankfully they’ve embraced it and still like to grow their own plants.)
One of the greatest parts of gardening is the ability to see your impact. From watching a tiny seed grow into something you eat to knowing you’re feeding a little butterfly with your flowers, gardening brings such tangible results.
If you’re looking to try this hobby and bring some meaning to your summer, then give these gardens to try. You don’t have to pick just one, either. Try a couple or go for them all! They’re all gardens I’ve done with my own kids, and they are a great way to know that all that digging in the dirt matters. By the way, we have a whole section of gardening ideas in our Let Grow Independence Kit that we’d love for you to check out.
Grow your own food with a veggie garden.
I love this article from the National Association for the Education of Young People because I think it’s realistic. My favorite advice is their reminder to keep it simple and not to forget to have fun, which are both important when you’re taking on any new hobby.
When friends ask me for advice about growing a veggie garden with kids, I tell them to just skip the seeds and go with plants instead. If you’re a seasoned gardener who grows plants from seeds regularly, great. Go for it. But otherwise, it’s worth the extra money to buy plants. Go to your area garden center and support local. For more veggie growing tips, check out this victory gardening article.
Add flavor to your cooking with an herb garden.
Herbs are a great way to garden if you don’t have a lot of space. You can grow herbs in containers, on windowsills, or mixed in with your other plants. This is a good opportunity for your kids to research what herbs go best in certain dishes. Here’s a cheat sheet of the best herbs to grow for a chef.
If you have a kid who likes to cook, this is the garden for them. When you grow your own seasonings, you really take a lot of pride in what you cook and the flavor. This is another one where I would recommend sticking with plants instead of seeds. This way, you can use the herbs right away and just keep growing more all summer. By the way, you can also grow herbs in a shoebox—yep, I’ve done it—if you want to keep it quick, inexpensive, and easy. See how easy it can be to come up with creative garden ideas?
Save the bees with a bee garden.
The bees need us. We all rely on the honeybee population to help pollinate and supply our food sources. They’ve taken a serious hit in recent years, so an easy way to give back is to plant flowers for the bees.
Even veggie flowers and hanging baskets can support the bees, but if you want to do even more to attract them, here are some plants to consider. This is also a good time to remind your kids that bees are not bad. They can actually do a lot of good.
Protect the monarchs with a butterfly garden.
Like many butterfly species, monarchs need what is called a “host plant” in order to survive. This means that the adult butterfly looks for a specific plant to lay its eggs and, in the case of the monarch, the plant is milkweed.
The monarch butterfly population has also taken a hit in recent years, so we can do our part to help by planting a butterfly garden and including milkweed in it. You could even get your yard certified as an official monarch way station—check out this nonprofit program here. In addition to milkweed, here’s a great interactive map that helps you discover other good nectar plants to grow.
Feed the hummingbirds and birds with a bird garden.
It’s pretty cool to think you can help feed birds with what you plant. You can get tips for attracting hummingbirds and what plants to grow from Birds & Blooms magazine. You can also grow your own birdseed by choosing plants like sunflowers, coneflowers, and others.
While we often put up birdhouses and feeders for birds to bring them to our backyards, it’s easy to forget about the gardening side of things. But it really can make a huge long-term difference. If you’re unsure of what plants to grow, check with your local plant expert or garden center. They’ll likely have great recommendations and native plants to suggest for your area.
Gardening is more than just pretty flowers and growing tomatoes, even though those both get the most attention. You can try lots of creative garden ideas at your home. We hope you and your kids try one of these gardens this year. There are great ways to garden with purpose.