How to Design a Children's Garden

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Creating a garden for children introduces them to a productive, interesting hobby and gets them outside in the fresh air, exercising and enjoying themselves. A children's garden is an outdoor, living playground where kids can discover the source of their food, learn how to care for their natural environment and provide habitats for wildlife. Materials, plants and seeds for a children's garden need not break the bank, and children enjoy participating in designing their own space to relax and play.

Landscaping Ideas

A children's garden should be child-sized, with all its landscaping features spaced to fit children's steps and heights. A small lawn, which makes a useful spot for summer picnics, stepping stones, maize mazes and wild areas are some landscaping features you can include in a children's garden. Sink stepping stones to their own depth in the soil to prevent them from becoming tripping hazards, and construct a meandering path through the garden where children can enjoy hopping from one stone to the next.

On a bare patch of ground, sow seeds of corn or maize (Zea mays) in the shape of a maze after your location's last average annual frost date in spring. Corn, an annual plant, grows 4 to 5 feet tall and 1 to 2 feet wide. So space the seeds so there won't be gaps between the resulting mature plants.

Let one corner of the children's garden grow wild so that children can see what native plants and animals colonize it. Fix bird boxes and bat boxes in that corner, where new animal residents are least likely to be disturbed.

Water Feature

Children love playing with water, and a children's garden should include a water feature, providing no danger of drowning exists. A simple bubble fountain cascading over pebbles provides a place for splashing on warm days, or plant oxygenating water plants and floating plants in a half wooden barrel to provide a lesson on local aquatic insects.

Flowering Plants

Growing annual flowering plants introduces children to the pleasures of growing something beautiful. Seeds of the annual sunflower (Helianthus annuus) are large and simple for children's little fingers to handle, and the seeds grow into impressive plants in one growing season. Sunflower seed heads can be left in place during fall and winter to feed birds.

Pot marigold (Calendula officinalis) also grows well with little care and provides a bright, colorful display. Grow sweet pea (Lathyrus odoratus) so that children can enjoy its sweet fragrance.

Vegetable Patch

A vegetable patch in a children's garden allows children to taste the results of their efforts and encourages healthy eating. Place a vegetable patch in a sunny spot near a water source. Most vegetables don't grow well in shade, and reducing the water-carrying load on children's little legs encourages the youngsters to water the vegetables.

Spread a 4- to 5-inch-deep layer of aged manure, garden compost or other rich organic matter over the garden soil, and mix it with the soil to a depth of 8 inches with a garden fork. Some rewarding vegetables for children to grow include garden peas (Pisum sativum), potatoes (Solanum tuberosum), which can become invasive when their tubers aren't harvested, and carrots (Daucus carota var. sativus).

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