Gardening can be a lot of fun for kids, giving them the chance to get outside and grub around in the dirt.

And if you give kids an area outdoors to call their own, they’ll be rolling up their sleeves in no time.

The vegetable garden is a great starting point and a wonderful way for them to develop an understanding of where fresh food comes from.

You’ll be surprised how many more vegies they are likely to accept on the dinner plate when they’ve grown them with their own hands.

Let them add a scarecrow and it will become their favourite spot.

Watering and weeding take up only so much time, so to really keep kids interested between sowing and harvesting crops they need to have a stake in the garden.

The best way to do this is to create a kid-friendly landscape and this is possible whether you have a large garden, small courtyard or balcony.

Use raised beds to give children a dedicated growing area, mark out kids-only spots using puppets, or decorate lights to hang outdoors and you won’t be able to keep them away.

Watch a scarecrow

As a reward for the hard work of sowing garden beds and to give the vegie patch a guardian, help the kids make and dress a scarecrow to protect their crops from birds.

  • SINK A STAKE up to 3m high about 600mm into the ground, securing a crosspiece 300mm from the top.
  • ADD CLOTHES and stuff with grass clippings, woodchips or rags, tying the waistband and pant legs in place.
  • MAKE A HEAD from nylon tights or a hessian sack, stuffing it with plastic bags and securing to the stake with twine. Add a face and hat to finish.

TIP: Use bright colours to deter birds.

Garden craft

Take the time to look and you’ll find your garden is a great source of craft supplies, including seed pods, colourful foliage and flowers, twisted branches and straight twigs.

A collection of goodies from the garden works well to create markers for paths and garden beds.

Just add a few colourful pipe cleaners and Paddle-Pop sticks, then grab a hot glue gun and you’re all set to create anything your imagination can conjure up.

This alien stick puppet was assembled using a glue gun, under adult supervision, to join porous materials and the shiny seedpods.

TIP: When removing a part of a plant, trim it with secateurs rather than tearing it off by hand.

Designing a flower press

Pressed and dried flowers make beautiful keepsakes or additions to art and craft projects.

A flower press is a simple device that features a rigid base and top plate with bolts through each corner.

To make your own press, cut two 300 x 300mm squares from 9mm marine or exterior ply.

Drill holes about 20mm in from the corners, insert the bolts and secure threaded drawer knobs over the top.

TIP: You can also use wing nuts.

To adjust the size of the press simply cut the plywood larger or smaller. For scrapbooks or albums you may want it A4 size.

Position the flowers and leaves between layers of paper on the base plate then add the top plate.

Wind the knobs to tighten the bolts and draw the top and base plates together, compressing the contents of the press.

Change the paper every few days until the flowers or leaves have dried.

Watch the weather

Add a rain gauge to the garden and open up a new world for kids to explore. It is a simple and fun learning tool that helps children appreciate the importance of climate in their garden. The best spot is somewhere that’s frequently visited like the vegie garden.

  • POSITION THE RAIN GAUGE high enough so water won’t splash into it and in an area clear from overhanging buildings or trees. A large, securely mounted, seasoned hardwood garden stake is an ideal mounting point.
  • KEEP RECORDS to help kids learn how to track data and look at summarised results. Create a spreadsheet and graph that tallies the monthly and annual rainfall.

Outdoor lights

Turn your garden into a fairy wonderland after dark by adding handmade lanterns.

All you need is glass paint, LED tea-light candles and glass containers or bottles in just about any shape you can find.

To hang lanterns from trees in the garden, decorate jars with wire handles. If you don’t have any, choose jars with a lip and make a hanger using galvanised tie wire from the hardware store.

Paint markers make it easy to create pictures and patterns on glass candle holders of all shapes and sizes.

They cost from $5 each, from Officeworks, resist fading and come in a range of colours including metallics.

Get the kids to practise first on a piece of paper the same size as the surface to be painted.

TIP: If using real candles, don’t paint on the side exposed to the flame.

Republished with permission of Handyman Australia.