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GardenSMART :: Landscaping Projects You Can Do With Kids

Landscaping Projects You Can Do With Kids

By The National Association of Landscape Professionals
Photograph courtesy of Scapes/

It's not fair for mom and dad or grandma and grandpa to enjoy ALL the fun of backyard landscaping projects…kids can enjoy the fun too! In fact, working with children on simple backyard tasks will provide them with a project ownership that will enhance their enjoyment of the spaces they create! There are literally hundreds of things you can do together, projects for children of all ages. Check out a few of them below and see what inspires you and the special children in your life to have fun creating—and then enjoying—a kid-friendly, kid-inspired, kid-created masterpiece!

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Create a Backyard Sanctuary for Animals

(Great for the youngest helpers)

The family dog isn't the only animal that can enjoy the backyard. Birds, butterflies, deer, and other wildlife would love an invitation to hang out at your home! Invite them with a special sanctuary created just for them.

Want to see birds? Then food and drink is their ticket to a party in your yard! Start with installing a birdbath, as fresh water can sometimes be difficult for birds to find. You and your children can pick out a special one at many garden centers and home improvement stores or, if you are feeling crafty, create your own. Look for a shallow one with a slightly rough bottom to allow birds some traction as they enjoy the bath you offer. Then work with your children to find the perfect spot to welcome feathery guests – ideally, someplace that is near a tree with low hanging branches and is visible from a window to allow indoor admiring at all times of the day.

Then, identify the party food. Of course there are different foods your bird guests might like at different times of year. A simple scattering of sunflower seeds on the ground will welcome a variety of birds while others prefer the safety of higher perches for dining. Once the party food and drink are served, you and your children can enjoy tracking which guests come for a visit. Keep a journal of the various types of birds that stop by.

How about butterflies? Not only are butterflies beautiful but they are also useful as they help pollinate flowers. Work with your children to fill your garden with butterfly colors by planting an array of flowers! Select flowers in reds, oranges, pinks, and purples in particular and choose flowers indigenous to your region. Your landscape professional or local garden shop can help with appropriate recommendations. Also be sure to plant in the sunniest spots of your yard, as butterflies prefer to dine in the sun! How many butterflies will you count visiting in one day?

Perhaps your children have a heart for deer? While many families try to keep deer out of their yards, some choose to welcome these beautiful creatures. If deer roam in your area, you can tempt them into your yard with some of their favorite offerings including petunias, sunflowers, impatiens, fruit trees, and berry-producing shrubs.

Hang a Tire Swing

(Perfect for grade school children)

There are lots of childhood memories waiting to be made on a tire swing! Enlist your child's help to find the "perfect tree." Of course it needs to be big and strong! Generally, hardwood trees are best. Identify a healthy strong limb. Get a clean used or new tire and show your child how to drill a few holes in what will become the bottom of the swing to allow for drainage. Select a nice sturdy rope that will allow the swing to float 12"-18" from the ground and tie it so that it will swing at least three feet from the tree's trunk. If your son or daughter is a Scout, the knot tying skills they have mastered will come in handy as the tire is secured to the rope! After the tire is hung, mom or dad should try it out to make sure it's safe and ready for the younger family members to enjoy – but remember, mom and dad, you have to share the fun!

Build a Fire Pit

(For all ages, including teens)

Young children and teens alike will enjoy evenings spent outside around a fire pit. S'mores, storytelling, and song singing await after just a few hours invested to create a basic fire pit. Children can help in finding and laying paving stones on a level spot in your yard, a spot that's not near shrubs or low hanging trees. Place the stones in a circle pattern that is at least three feet in diameter and at least 15 inches tall. Fill the bottom with pebbles and then add several inches of sand. Voila. Let the fun begin!

Of course this list only scratches the surface and there are so many other adventures in your yard that await. Create an ideal outdoor reading spot, make planter boxes and grow flowers or herbs, or construct personalized stepping stones. Have fun creating your ideal outdoor spaces – where the work is as much fun as the play!


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