These simple garden projects are a great way to get the kids outside, entertained and away from the TV or computer screen. All of the activities are suitable for children of primary school age, but it’s easy to tailor them to suit older or younger kids. Little ones will need a bit of extra help and guidance, while the more grown up can be given planning and decision-making responsibilities, and the use of tools such as hand drills and shears.
Browse our suggestions for garden projects for children, below.
For those with younger kids, our friends at Made for Mums have compiled a creative list of outdoor activities for toddlers.
Pot up colourful containers
These instant container displays are easy to plant and will quickly fill the space allocated to them. Let your kids choose plants from the seasonal displays at the garden centre, then use a cheerful pot to match. Choose either a coloured plastic pot or paint a terracotta pot with a brightly coloured paint - if your kids are old enough they could help with this. Ensure there are drainage holes in the base, then add multi-purpose compost until it’s two-thirds full. Remove the plants from their pots and place them on the compost – arrange into an attractive display. Fill in around the roots with more compost and firm in well. Water the plants in and place the pot in a sheltered, sunny spot. Continue to water regularly over summer and pinch off faded flowers to encourage more to grow.
Help children create an enchanted garden at the base of a tree or in a hollow in the ground. Kids will love collecting stones for paths and twigs for fences, and you could add ferns and other small plants around the trunk. Help little ones to tie ribbons to branches and make a fairy door for a tree or wall by decorating a piece of cardboard or the lid of an ice-cream tub.
Encourage your kids to build an adult-free space, using branches stacked against a wall, fence or tree. Help them arrange the branches to make walls that are dense so they provide privacy and with an opening that’s just wide enough for them to crawl through. Older children will enjoy designing the den and could try building a freestanding one too.
Make a bug box
This simple bug box project just requires an open-fronted box – the kids can run around the garden for the materials to fill it with. A drilled log may provide a home for solitary bees, while stacks of pine cones, stones, broken pots, twigs and dried grass can be added to attract ladybirds, woodlice and, if you’re lucky, the odd mouse or toad.
Plants and crops are bursting into flower everywhere at this time of year. If you allow a few to go to seed, children can have fun spotting them in the garden and collecting them for sowing next year. Show them how to burst seedpods and shake seeds from ripe seedheads. They can then have fun designing and making paper seed packets to store them in.
Create a glass jar terrarium
Glass jar gardens are the perfect size for little hands. Let your children select an array of succulents from the garden centre. Place gravel in the base of a large jar, top with a layer of compost, and then lower in the plants and arrange into a display. Firm in with fingers or a pencil. Add a little water, plus a layer of gravel to hold in the moisture. Stand the jar on a bright indoor windowsill.
Micro-leaves are all the rage and kids will love growing, and hopefully eating, them too. You don’t need special micro-leaf seeds – just use seeds of any veg with edible leaves, such as basil, broccoli or spinach. Choose any container, from plastic cups, yoghurt pots or biodegradable pots - all the better if you can draw a smiley face on them. Fill your pots almost to the top with compost – just leave a little gap to make watering easier. Scatter the veg or herb seeds thinly across the surface, then cover with a little compost. Water to dampen the compost, then check them regularly to make sure it doesn't dry out. Then simply place the pots on an indoor windowsill to grow. To harvest the microgreens, simply snip them off at the base. Alternatively, wait until they have a pair of true leaves then cut off just these, and you may get a couple of harvests.
Create a succulent plant display
Succulents planted in a pot look good for months on end and require very little maintenance. Let them choose the plants they want to grow from the garden centre. Arrange the plants so they're evenly distributed around the pot and fill around them with cactus compost. Top-dress with horticultural gravel to complete the look. The kids can add their own accessories - in this case toy dinosaurs - to make the display more individual to them. This display can stay outside over summer and then can be transferred to a bedroom windowsill in autumn, providing interest for many more months.
Pond in a pot
Container ponds are easy to make and kids will love getting wet and muddy, especially on a hot summer's day. They’ll also attract birds and insects, so should provide some quiet wildlife-watching time too. Use a large, shallow container with no drainage holes, and add a selection of pond and marginal plants, plus an oxygenator to help keep the water clear. Site it in a little shade, rather than in full sun, and keep the water topped up.
Make a grass bucket seat
This grass seat will last all summer and beyond, and older children will enjoy keeping it in trim with shears or scissors. Choose an old metal bucket or bin and add drainage holes in the bottom. Fill it to the brim with compost, firm down and then sprinkle lawn seed over the top. Water it well and leave to germinate, which in summer should only take about a week. Don’t let it dry out and, when it’s nice and thick, encourage one of your older children to cut it, using shears.