Gardening with Children – Ideas and Tips for Planting with Toddlers and Kids

Awe and Wonder in the Outdoors

Most toddlers and children love spending time outdoors with nature. They have a natural affinity and curiosity, an awe and wonderment with the outside and its magical lands and creatures. This blog post will give you ideas for gardening with children.

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Time stops while they follow the path of an industrious ant, the flight of a busy bee or the swirling of leaves in the breeze. Gardening gives children the rich benefits of outdoors (even if you can only do indoor gardening) with a sense of purpose and responsibility to look after something other than ourselves.

To tend to another living organism and watch it thrive under our careful attention and nurturing is such a powerful, practical message for our children.

Clothing for Gardening with Children

First things first, it’s important to be prepared! This helps you relax and enjoy the experience too. Gardening can be done in any weather, but it’s important that we protect ourselves from the elements. Make a little space, a cupboard, draw, hamper etc. by your outdoor area so that you are always ready to go and haven’t got to get things from different places.

Puddlesuits are my top recommendation – great whatever the weather. They also go on easy over other clothes. When Floss was younger she would wear hers come rain or shine. Whenever she’s out in the garden there is always water involved – usually from the mud kitchen (check out our mud kitchen post here). The puddlesuits meant I didn’t have to worry about her clothes getting wet.

You could always have ‘messy play’ or clothes you just use for gardening too. We also always have wellies and they’re the only shoes she wears outside. The rest of the stash has hats (woolly and sun), sun tan lotion and cardies and jumpers ready to go. Having all in one place enables Floss to be much more independent when getting herself ready to go outside. As Floss has got older – now seven – we’ve moved more towards this self choice selection. The puddlesuits were used mainly up to age five.

Drinks and Snacks

Another useful idea is to make sure you’ve got a shady little drinks spot outside to encourage kids to keep drinking while they are outdoors. We’ve got little cups and reusable straws that we use for outdoors that help tempt her away from her play to take a drink. A tin with a few snacks in can be useful too.

TOP TIP – we’re very good at making sure that we have everything for our little ones, but not so good at being prepared ourselves. Often we’re soaked or burnt and not enjoying the experience as much as we could. Pop the things you need in the stash with theirs and it’ll be much more fun.

Gardening with Children Equipment

Gardening can be a hazardous pastime with lots of tools that need to be used safely and in a particular way. Many of the tools aren’t suitable for toddlers and children, often due to their size or weight.

Assessing and taking risks is an important part of growing up and gardening gives opportunities to test out these risks when using appropriate tools. The great thing is so many common gardening tools are now available in sizes perfect for children.

Here’s a list of equipment that might be useful for gardening with children.


Making spaces in a garden that are accessible to children is ideal to make them feel more included in the life of the garden. When we designed our garden we wanted to make sure that Floss could access lots of the planting areas.

We built the planter above and had a seating area enclosed into it. This means that as you can see below Floss can stand on the seating area to be able to access the planter easily and tend to the herbs we have growing.

Don’t worry if you haven’t got anything like this. You can always use little step stools or other raised platform to help get your planting areas at the right height.


You certainly need to consider the risks involved in gardening with children. How well and safely a child can use a tool is important. However, other things to consider are the plants that you have in your garden.

If you have a little one who still wants to mouth everything then this aspect is especially important. We planted edible herbs in our garden when Floss was young, it’s mainly what we still have now.

This meant that she was able to sniff, touch and taste to her hearts delight! We did however ensure that we spoke to her about always asking before touching/ tasting plants and that not all plants/ fungi are ok to touch/ eat and that some can be poisonous (and what that meant).

An important aspect of this is helping children to identify what they see in nature. Luckily, most children are incredibly eager to learn the names of the things around them. Being able to spot what a nettle is and know to avoid touching it is an important life skill. Finding a dock leaf (bitter dock) to be able to sooth a nettle stung leg equally helpful. Don’t be afraid to use scientific names for plants.

Foxgloves are very common around by us and are poisonous (ingesting the leaves) therefore we’ve made sure Floss knows how to identify foxgloves but she also knows the scientific name of digitalis. She thrives on being able to identify plants that her Daddy has no clue about! Don’t worry about all of those longs words – just think about how many dinosaur names kids can pronounce better than us!

Below you’ll find a couple of free ID card downloads. You can use like Montessori three part cards if you print out two sets. For more free nature resources sign up to my newsletter (above) or join one of the Facebook groups (bottom of post) for the password to access the freebies.


Gardeners are in it for the long game! Plants take time to grow, but this can be very tricky, for toddlers/ kids especially, to understand. The concept of time is not yet developed fully and it can be a little frustrating when nothing happens immediately.

It’s worth considering a balance of plants when gardening with children, so that their germination time varies. You could always plant some indoor plants. Plants such as cress sprout very quickly. They can help your child understand the process and watch the magic in a more swift time frame.

Beans are another one that are great for observing with children. You could start a ‘bean diary’ to track the changes. Depending upon the age of your child they could mark make what they see, draw, write or you could write what they say.

Plants that are already grown are perfect for observing the natural world. I’m in love with these planters below. They come with a taper in them that means you fill up the pot in the bottom and water is gently absorbed into the soil as needed. We’ve had some incredibly health supermarket herbs last ages using these. They’re great for checking the water level with children and seeing how the leaves and stems tilt towards the sun.


You really don’t need much to do gardening with children. We started Floss off with a spoon as we didn’t have anything else at the time! Over the years we’ve added a few other tools/ equipment depending upon her readiness to use different items. Here’s a list of some things you could consider in children’s sizes.

  • Spade
  • Fork
  • Broom
  • Scissors/ Secateurs
  • Watering Can
  • Wheel barrow

Having a regular time each day to pop into the garden and tend to the plants can become a lovely addition to the rhythm of your day. It was certainly a time, as a toddler, that Floss was very keen on. She’s a little more of a fair weather gardener now!

Gardening into Food

There’s nothing better than growing the food we eat. Getting children from a very early age to understand the life cycle of plants and how they nourish us is so important. Two books that I’d recommend below The Farm That Feeds Us and The World That Feeds Us. They’re books for around 6/7 years plus but I did explore them with Floss from a younger age and read sections to her.

Garden Series Posts You’ll Love

Are you looking for a little garden inspiration? Would you like your children to be able to explore the outdoors and enjoy learning through play? This is the series for you. Click on the titles below to head to that blog post:


As always, I would recommend adult supervision with activities and take care to ensure the items you are using are suitable for your child in both age and development. Specifically, with outdoors, I think it’s really important to make sure that you reassess risks before each time you allow access toys and resources. At a school I used to work in was next to a road and we always had to make sure that nothing had blown or been thrown in. It’s also good to consider how you will explain safety aspects such as some things being dangerous to eat in gardens and woods. The views expressed are my own.