Any project that brings the family together creates special memories, reinforces shared values, and encourages cooperative teamwork. Building a garden together — large or small, edible or floral — develops important family fundamentals like these especially well. Bonding over buckets of dirt, tracking seedlings as they come to fruition, or harvesting fresh foods and flowers that a family grows together evokes an essential sense of well-being. Having a family garden that the whole family helps take care of and that every member of the family is a part of will many rewards.
Picking the Perfect Garden Style
Container gardens, raised vegetable beds, tomato trellises, bee-friendly blossoms — choosing the right kind of garden to grow might use one or many different techniques. Identify any limitations to what the household can manage, how much space the garden or its containers require, and what purpose the garden should serve.
- Outdoor gardening: Plans for large, edible gardens might cover several square-foot regions or use raised beds to gain more space through height. Gardens like these offer the most versatility but require daily attention. The reward for hard work in the garden pays off in abundant fresh foods straight from the backyard and pairing seasonally similar fruits and vegetables can yield mini-crops all year long.
- Indoor gardening: For families with busy schedules that make tending to large, outdoor gardens difficult, container gardening inside their home balances maintenance and enjoyment. Herbs and several other edible fruits, vegetables, and flowers can be brought indoors for container gardening, too. Parents of children with varying sensitives can also control exposure risks by keeping the family garden inside.
- Specialty gardening: Specialty gardens offer unique opportunities for families looking to grow something other than traditional edible and floral arrangements. Collecting succulents and air plants beautify the home without demanding careful attention. Growing a moon garden is as easy as planting flowers that only bloom at night or have silvery, ghostly foliage.
What to Buy
The right tools make every job easier, a truth universally important when growing any kind of garden. Even small specialty family gardens require certain soils, pots, or utensils to grow successfully.
The most common tools a family needs to start and maintain their garden include:
- Protective gear: gloves, aprons, goggles, and masks.
- Handheld tools: hand trowels and spades.
- Trimming and cutting: pruning shears, nippers, clippers, and hand saws.
- Digging and tilling: rakes, shovels, and hoes.
- Irrigation: watering cans, hoses, or automated sprinkler systems.
- Maintenance: wheelbarrow, lawn-mower, and edger.
Many companies now provide tools and accessories like these in children’s sizes and with a variety of patterns and colors.
A Job for Everyone
Once started, a garden should be a regular feature on the list of household chores. Not only because of its easy potential to energize the family but because gardens — and yardwork — have seasonal needs that require check-ups.
Every member should have a task, but projects with too many complications and delays easily overwhelm the natural limits of a child’s patience. With their frustration comes a loss of interest, so targeting their tasks to have quick turnarounds sustains the curiosity of a child at any age.
- For ages 3-5: Painting rocks, plant markers, or flower pots are all simple, enjoyable tasks safe for the littlest helpers in a family. Handheld digging tools can be safe to use with help from a sibling or parent.
- For ages 6-10: With only a little supervision, young children can easily harvest fruits, vegetables, and flowers once shown how to pick them. They can also enjoy the messy process of tilling and digging before dropping in seeds or transferring a plant.
- For tweens: Designing and organizing garden projects, filling out growth and crop trackers, or overseeing younger siblings will keep picky tweens busy without boring their shifting attention spans. Tending to any resident birdhouses and baths or looking for invasive insects can also hold their interest.
- For teens and young adults: Exercise a teenager’s budding sense of self-reliance and confidence with independent projects, working hands-on with tools and making decisions alongside their parent. While they might not be as enthused, teens and young adults are often more precise with harvesting and weeding a family’s garden.
Important Safety Considerations
When tackling large gardens and outdoor projects, be sure to use protective sprays and lotions and to wear seasonally appropriate clothing. When weeding, families should look for foreign objects in the ground. Loose nails, shards of glass, and other dangerous pieces of debris can cut through gloves or thin-soled shoes.
While growing indoor gardens, be careful to keep containers out of reach of children, who might still put random items in their mouths. Pets can also pose a risk for inside gardening. Covering soil with decorative rocks and using hanging planters can prevent disruption or accidental digestion.
If faced with nesting pests, dead or dying trees, electrical wiring or buried cables, never hestitate in calling the professionals. Most neighborhoods even advise bringing someone out from the city before digging to avoid fines or broken lines. Whenever posssible, choose caution over independence before attempting something easily left to the experts.
The Fruits of Labor and Love
Families who sow together will grow together. When dinner is served from their own gardens, children make a direct connection between effort and reward–and parents enjoy more breathign room in their wallet. Beyond the financial and physical gains of active gardening, regular and routine activities form the foundation that grows a family into a close-knit unit — nuturing a garden turns naturally to nuturing each other.
Jeff E. Brown, freelance writer —Jeff E. Brown is a freelance writer, self-taught lifehacking teacher, DIY home improvement specialist, owner of two happy dogs and a barbeque master. He loves learning through experience and writing about all the cool things he has learned since he moved out of a compact apartment into a comfortable house. You can reach him @jeff8rown