Gardening as a family is a great way to spend quality time together while learning and creating. As you work on a garden project together, you’ll not only be knocking off some to-do list items of your own while bonding with your family, but you’ll also be teaching your kids valuable lessons.
They’ll learn things like seeing the results of their own hard work as well as the principles of growing your own food, making them appreciate where their food comes from and the important work of our farmers. Your kids will be engaged in the outdoors, feeling the sunlight, smelling the soil and feeling the leaves or the seeds in their hands. They’ll be disconnected from the usual tech and reconnected with nature, learning about the science behind gardening and growing things. They’ll also learn patience and responsibility of maintaining the plants, watering them and harvesting them. And, depending on what kind of project you choose to take on, you’ll have a brand new backyard addition to enjoy. Here are 5 fun backyard gardening projects for the family to do together.
Plant a Butterfly Garden
Pollinators like birds, bees, butterflies and bats are responsible for facilitating over 75% of the world’s flowering plants to reproduce and are critically important to life on earth. Butterflies happen to be beautiful pollinators and are a joy for kids to see. Invite them to your backyard by planting plants they love to feed on. Look up the local butterfly species in your area and work together with your kids to plant the flowers those butterflies love. For example, milkweed is a host plant for monarch butterflies and where they leave their larva to grow. Zebra Longwing butterflies love the nectar from the flowers of lantana, Spanish needle and verbena.
Plant an Herb Garden
Starting an herb garden is relatively easy and gives you quick returns in the kitchen - another opportunity for a teachable moment with your kids. You’ll want to choose areas with well-drained soil and plenty of sunlight to have a successful herb garden. If the soil is clay-heavy or sandy, you’ll need to add compost. Even if the soil is in overall good condition, adding some compost into the soil will help give the soil nutrients that will help the herbs grow. While growing the herbs, don’t use manure compost because of the nitrogen they contain, which will help the herbs grow quickly but will reduce their flavor.
Some herbs you can choose to grow include: Basil, thyme, rosemary, dill, sage, oregano, cilantro or mint.
Starting from seeds is cheaper, but you’ll get faster benefits planting the plants. The herbs will need about 2 inches of water a week and will need to be harvested frequently to keep them healthy. You and your kids will love the rewarding process of getting your own herbs and having them season your food at dinner.
Plant a Pumpkin Patch
If your kids love Halloween and the harvest time of year, a pumpkin patch will be a fun project to take on. The yields of the pumpkin patch will be an exciting time for the whole family as you pick your pumpkins and carve jack-o-lanterns for the season. You’ll also be able to use the pumpkins for things like pumpkin pies, roasted pumpkin seeds, pumpkin cookies and even Fall decorations.
Pumpkins grow easily in many different types of soils which make them a relatively easy project for the whole family. Plan to plant pumpkins in late spring or early summer for a fall harvest. Pumpkins normally take 95 to 120 days to mature.