It’s time to unleash the big fun guns and get the kids away from those screens.

Get the look – Kid-friendly gardens - 2 September 2021 Credit: Images and content inspired by Lifestyle Show Gardens – Lifestyle College Students (From Life is a Garden)

Dear gardener-parents. It's time to unleash the big fun guns and get the kids away from those screens. We know it's a challenging task BUT, Life is a Garden is here with some in-your-face, bold, bright ideas to create the ultimate kid-friendly, outdoor play place. Here's your chance to create a garden that invites, inspires, and involves your kids.

The funky monkey jungle gym

Instead of a standard wooden jungle gym, get creative with something totally unique. There are several companies that can provide custom requests, so think about what your child would really enjoy. Perhaps they like to climb high, or swing on bars, maybe they like hiding spots, a cooking/experiment station, or perhaps they need a structure to just explore their gross-motor skills.

Cowboys and tepee’s

This idea is great for the bigger family and for when friends come over. It’s super easy to build a couple of tepees in the backyard from pole and plastic tarp/canvas. Grab ready-made tepees and supplies to build your own from one of our GCA Garden Centres. Kids can decorate their own special tee-pee and add fun accessories. This structure can be used as an outdoor reading nook too.

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Friends of the fairies

Engage fine-motor skills and imagination with a little fairy garden filled with lovely magical goodies. Take the kids on an outing to your GCA Garden Centre and let them choose a couple of fairy friends. Try use the fairy garden as more of an organic outdoor dollhouse that’s functional to play with/in, rather than purely ornamental. Secretly hide a few friends and let them hunt for the missing bounty!

Everyday beach day

Reinvent the standard sandpit! Get the kids excited about outside by introducing something like a pretend beach day for all the inland children. Dig a decent sized hole, layer with plastic sheeting, and then fill with soft beach sand. Throw in a couple of beach toys, an umbrella, an ice cream for bribery, and sunscreen to bring back holiday memories. Don’t forget a few buckets of “seawater”!

Sing-a-long pipes

Here’s a cost-effective way to engage the music-loving child. Create a suspended pipe curtain set up using different sized PVC tubes. Include a mystery music box nearby with drum sticks, seedpods, and DIY stone shakers. Kids can start a band in the backyard and have fun developing their love of music and rhythm (or just have the freedom to make a noise for a while).

Eat with a theme

Harvesting food from a themed edible garden becomes an adventure and a sensory exploration. You can create a raised food garden inside a wooden structure that’s shaped and painted like a dragon, for example. Perhaps kids need to take a handful of compost as a peace offering to the dragon guardian as they enter his edible-castle. Include a basket for them to collect yummies and open up the space for any-time snacking, straight from the Earth.

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Games to play all day

Hopscotch: Paint a strip of cement with blackboard paint and DIY a chalk holder goodie OR paint rainbow blocks with numbers. Noughts and crosses: Build a life-size version for tactile/visual stimulation. Puzzles: Life-size versions can include painted pictures, poems, and even math sums. Netball and basketball: Install a hoop pole and DIY a colourful ball station

Friendly plant picks for kids and fur-children

Pop over to your Garden Centre to which of these family faves are in season now. While you’re there, grab a bag of compost and organic fertiliser to help get you growing in no time.

Good luck and enjoy bringing out your big fun guns, gardener-parents. Try fewer restrictions and more invitations for real engagement from your kids. Knowing that the things you create are especially for them and they have permission to play will set your kids at ease. There is something so refreshing about a child’s modest curiosity and creativity, so let’s engage that and make the garden a place where they are supported to play the way they can in the digital world – involved and full of imagination.

Credit: Images and content inspired by Lifestyle Show Gardens – Lifestyle College Students.

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