Few things are as beneficial as spending time outside. It promotes physical health, mental well-being, and environmental stewardship. And we can help encourage the desire to be in the garden by implementing adventure and rich educational experiences for our children. And us!

Child with a watering can in a garden

Conceptualise and design your garden first

Start by defining the objectives of your garden. Are you aiming to create an adventure play area, a space to learn about plants and ecosystems, or a combination of both? Try to select a cohesive theme as it can help tie the garden together and make it even more engaging. You could go with anything here, really; fairy tale adventures, a wildlife habitat, maybe a sensory garden? 

It’s always a good idea to start with a rough sketch of the layout. Involve your kids in this, too! Include different zones for various activities and features. This will help you organise your space effectively. Identify suitable plants, structures and elements that align with your purpose and climate. The more native plants you choose, the more wildlife will be attracted!

Think about the themes that you want

Dividing the garden into themed zones encourages exploration and provides diverse learning experiences. For example, a butterfly garden with flowers that attract butterflies and provide a habitat for caterpillars can teach your kids about life cycles and pollination. A vegetable patch educates about food sources, nutrition, and sustainable practices while offering hands-on activities like planting, watering, and harvesting. And a sensory garden simply pleases every sense. Fragrant herbs, textured leaves, and colourful flowers can be particularly beneficial for younger children or those with sensory processing needs!

Incorporating educational signage is a simple yet effective way to enhance learning in the garden. Use signs to label plants, explaining their names, growth cycles, and interesting facts about them. You can even incorporate QR codes that link to online resources or videos for some more interactive learning experiences (and it’s a really fun project for the more tech-savvy among us). It’s almost a bit like a scavenger hunt! Making DIY signs can be a family project, too, where children help design and paint the signs, adding a personal touch to the garden.

Gather necessary resources, tools, and materials

Before starting your garden project, gather the essential tools and materials. Basic gardening tools such as a shovel, rake, trowel, pruners, watering can, and gloves should of course be available. But the more DIY you are going to put into this project, the more construction tools you’ll need, too. A hammer, saw, drill, screws, nails, measuring tape, level, and a wheelbarrow, are necessary for building structures. Advanced tools like rotary laser level will help you in the landscaping aspect of things. You will also need soil, compost, mulch, stones, wood for raised beds or structures, seeds, and plants. Depending on your design, you might also need educational signs, sensory materials, or adventure play equipment like ropes and swing sets.

Make sure you properly prepare the garden site before starting any new construction! Remove debris, weeds, and unwanted vegetation beforehand.

Encourage your kids to engage hands-on

Engaging in hands-on projects can teach practical skills and promote sustainability. Building birdhouses can attract wildlife and teach about local bird species. Creating compost bins teaches about composting and recycling organic waste into valuable garden soil. Designing rainwater collection systems can educate about water conservation. Each project can be documented, too, providing a record of progress and a resource for future learning.

There are so many wonderful and valuable things we can learn right at our doorsteps and in our private sanctuaries we call gardens. They are not only beautiful to look at, but they’re also a treasure trove of knowledge and unlimited opportunities if you set it up to be!