Gardening with Kids | Tips, Garden Activities, & What to Grow

child and herb garden

Gardening with kids is one of the most exciting and beneficial things you can do with your kids. Introducing little ones to the joy of growing is a fulfilling thing for you, and it’s easy to do with your child — whether you have a green thumb or not.

Kids love to play in the dirt. Their natural curiosity and innocence mean a new moment of discovery every minute of your gardening journey. By growing, your child comes to understand the satisfaction of nurture and the thrill of change — all while understanding (perhaps for the first time) what a life cycle is.

We believe the joy of growing should be accessible to everyone, no matter the age. This is our ultimate guide to gardening with kids, including benefits to gardening, child-friendly activities, crop advice & tips for helping your child along the way.

Benefits to Gardening with Kids

1. Better Brain

Kids Gardening

Gardening with kids provides healthy harvests to eat. A lot of these harvests, including veggies and herbs, impart invaluable nutrients for growing brains.

More importantly, a growing journey offers opportunities for education! One study showed that kids who garden often score higher in science achievement.

As you grow with your young child, science concepts will come up — ones that will be valuable to them later. On your growing journey, talk about photosynthesis, soil composition, climate change, etc. You can also use gardening as an opportunity to teach a little math by measuring stalks or counting petals.

The more time you spend with your kid, the more their education is in your hands. So be wise about what you do and say while you’re with them. Gardening is a fun, easy, and responsible way to help boost their brainpower.

2. Healthier Body

Gardening with kids can also help them with their physical health. First, they’ll be inspired to eat the vitamin-rich healthy harvests they’re growing — and hopefully develop a taste for these veggies! Half the battle of raising healthy children is getting growing kids the nutrients their bodies needs, so gardening is an easy way to get them excited about good foods.

Turns out, dirt itself is also important. Lack of childhood exposure to the soil is hypothesized to increases a child’s susceptibility to asthma, allergies, and autoimmune disorders. So if you live in an urban area or your kid is addicted to their iPad, gardening can offer at least one time a day where your child is exposed to dirt.

Lastly, you can never get too much physical activity and sunshine — an inevitability in growing. Gardening tasks can also promote motor skills and strength, which help develop young bodies into capable teenagers.

3. Happier Soul

Child Gardening Holding Radishes

Our favorite byproduct of gardening with kids is the happiness you foster as you grow. Meaningful family connections and communication are incredibly important to young bodies. Growing with your child creates time every day that you spend together and talk — no matter how busy you both are.

Further, gardening teaches respect for our planet and helps kids understand the responsibility they have for the Earth. As you grow, you’ll be raising kids who have awareness and appreciation for the environment — something our world definitely needs more of.

Not to mention, there’s nothing more fulfilling than saying, “I grew that!” Kids will feel the joy of harvest as much, if not more, than any adult. The small successes and hard work paying off boosts their self-esteem and motivates them looking forward.

It always easier to transition into a gardening family when the entire family takes part. Check out our bit on tips to get the family growing!


There are a few things to consider before you begin actually planting and gardening. The following tips will help you approach the process in a way that is most beneficial to your kids.

Give the little growers serious tools.

Give your child full-sized tools — the ones you would use! In doing so, you express confidence in their ability to handle the ‘real’ task of growing. Don’t minimize their abilities or intelligence by offering a plastic shovel. Kids can quickly learn wisdom and caution if asked to.

Obviously, you know your child best, so help them as needed (a 3-year-old is different than a 10-year-old).

Involve them in the entire process — from plant to plate.

gardening with kids

From assembling the garden, to planting, to cooking the harvest, each step of the garden process is valuable for a kid to witness (even if you think it’s mundane). Every moment of growth, no matter how thrilling, is an instance you can educate your child about life cycles, hard work, discipline, and reward. So let them be involved throughout and don’t skip any steps!

Let them make mistakes (but don’t leave them hanging).

As parents, it’s always tempting to jump in and fix the problem for our kids. Instead, be a garden guide rather than a decision-maker. If they overwater one day, point out the symptoms of the overwatered plant and suggest that they watch the soil carefully. Teach them about a moisture testing method rather than ordering them not to water.

Be with them as they garden.

One of the wonderful benefits of growing with your child is the quality time you’ll experience. It’s a chance to forge a deeper relationship and better lines of communication with your kids, no matter how young they are. To do so, you need to grow with them. Don’t just send them outside to garden as if it’s a chore; go with them.

Keep it simple.

Kid gardening

There’s always a way to find more to do. But, even in its simplest form, gardening is a stimulating activity. When gardening with kids, we suggest you keep it simple.

Instead of gardening outdoors in a garden plot, use a container. Instead of going overboard with tools & accessories, get only what you need. It’s equally exciting and informative for your child and keeps the process stress-free for you.

Show off their work.

The reward of a successful harvest is self-esteem boosting as is, but there’s a special type of confidence that comes from feeling a caretaker’s pride. Let grandparents, uncles, and other adult figures ‘ooh’ and ‘ahh’ at their garden as it’s growing. Show off their work by inviting friends over for pizza with fresh basil harvest atop.

By doing so, you’ll instill real confidence in your kid and their capabilities that will last well past this garden.

Activities For Each Stage of The Journey

Kid holding garden

Gardening is an activity in and of itself. Without any extra fluff, your child will be excited by the plant growth of a vegetable. Plus, there’s plenty to do to keep a garden alive!

However, if you want to use this as an opportunity to entertain and educate, there are plenty of additional activities you can do to keep your child involved. Here are a few of our best gardening projects that can be employed at each stage of the journey for further education and entertainment.

Gathering Supplies

Depending on the way you want to grow with your kids, you can have anywhere from 1 to 20 tools. If you’re growing with a Gardenuity container kit, you may not need anything extra. If you’re growing outdoors in a plot, you’ll need all sorts of tools.

Regardless, we suggest you get your little growing partner a notebook and calendar to help them record their plant’s journey. This way, they can mark how old the plant is, draw pictures of how it looks each week, and keep track of care-taking duties.

If you have a lot of extra supplies, create a supplies scavenger hunt. Make a detailed list of the supplies necessary and spread them across the yard/patio/house Give a list to each child involved and have a special gardening prize for the person who gathers all the supplies first.

Finding Your Garden Plot

One of the keys to gardening with kids successfully is finding where you’ll grow your garden. Whether you have a balcony and are using a container garden or a full backyard and growing in a plot, take this step seriously — and don’t forget to involve your kids.

Talk about the different categories of sun needs. Full sun is 6-8 hours of sun per day and is required by most vegetable plants (tomatoes, garlic, radishes, peppers, cucumbers, etc.). Partial shade is 3-6 hours of sun per day and works for very specific plants (lettuce, herbs, radishes, carrots). Less sun than this, and you’ll need to grow shade plants or chase the sun every couple of hours with your mobile container garden.

This Find the Sun garden activity engages your kids as you find a suitable location for your garden.

Give each child an area of your patio or yard to watch throughout the day. Send them outside in the morning and have them record the time and whether or not the sun is shining in their assigned area. Set a timer and, every thirty minutes, record the sun’s status again. Repeat throughout the day until the sunsets.

Help your child add up the hours of sunshine in their area and vote on the best location for your garden.

Testing the Soil

Dirt is an invaluable part of the growing process. Explain to your child that the soil is your plant’s home, and therefore, it’s important to carefully create a happy home if you want your plant to grow.

Talk about soil pH. If they’re very young, use the terms sweet vs. sour to explain alkaline vs. acidic.

Do the at-home pH test with your kids. Put half a cup of soil into two different cups. Add 1 Tbsp of water each and stir. Add 1 tsp of vinegar to one cup and 1 tsp of baking soda to the other. Observe.

If the vinegar soil bubbles, it’s alkaline/sweet. If the baking soda soil bubbles, it’s acidic/sour. If nothing happens to either, your soil is neutral.

PRO TIP: If you ordered a garden kit with us, your soil is most likely perfectly neutral for your plant. In this case, compare Gardenuity soil with the soil outside and show your kids the difference!

Choosing a Plant

Using Gardenuity Match, you can skip the laborious part of choosing a plant to grow — Match will only offer what you can grow where you are right now.

Regardless, use this opportunity to explain climate and growing zones. Talk about differences in soils as well as the immense variety of vegetables you can grow. To describe veggies, reference the foods they love! i.e. tomatoes are on pizza, cilantro is in their favorite salsa, etc.

Observing & Caring for the Garden

This part of the growing process will make up the bulk of you and your child’s journey, so make it exciting for them! It’s best not to assign watering as a chore. Instead, encourage them to take notes, draw pictures, test the soil with their thumb, and measure the growth of their plant day-to-day. Keeping track of their accomplishments will help boost their self-esteem (and also help you document when the garden has reached maturity).

If you talk about caring for your plant like a tiny science experiment, your little one’s attention will last longer. Similarly, you can use fun titles to spice it up. This is especially effective if you have more than one child involved.

For example, the “Plant Doctor” checks to see if your plant has any pest problems, the “Meteorologist” watches the weather forecast, the “Irrigation Manager” is in charge of watering regularly, etc.

Harvesting & Enjoying

Once your garden has reached maturity, help your kids harvest. Especially when gardening with kids, the harvest period is a time to sit back and watch the joy on your child’s face.

Don’t let the journey stop there though! After the harvest, your kid can help clean and cook their fresh goods using an easy recipe. This will spark excitement in the kitchen as well as in the garden. Alternatively, you can dry herbs or scrapbook your journey together once the length of the growing season is completed.

Gardenuity container garden


If you’re looking for suggestions on what to grow, check out the My First Garden to grow a carefully curated container garden kit. Specially made for children, it contains everything you need to grow. Otherwise, these are 5 easy and exciting crops for kids.

1. Lettuce/Leafy Greens

Greens of any kind are an easy to grow and reliable crop. They like part shade (a perfect fall crop) and are quick to mature (only about 40-50 days). Plus, depending on the variety, you can often harvest throughout the grow which is ideal for impatient kids.

2. Radishes

These are the quickest vegetable crop to grow, often maturing within 20-30 days which is particularly satisfying for your young gardeners. As a root vegetable, they’re also an exhilarating reveal when harvested!

3. Cherry Tomatoes

Sweet and bite-sized, cherry tomatoes are often a favorite when gardening with kids. They’re a bit trickier to grow, but contain a good challenge for older children and unique educational opportunities.

4. Carrots

Carrots are for the grower that’s in it for the long haul. With a maturation period of about 60 days, it takes a little more patience but the reward is so worth it. Everyone, especially children, love pulling a fresh carrot out of the dirt.

5. Herbs

Herbs may not be as initially thrilling for young growers, as they’re less likely to recognize them, but they can be grown indoors year-round and are a wonderful opportunity to talk about aromatherapy, seasoning, medicine, and more.

Lettuce get you growing