4 Easy Activities To Do With The Kids In The Garden Today

​Lockdown may be easing, but children across the country still need entertaining during the long summer holidays ahead.  From growing your own crops, to building a bespoke bug hotel, the garden is full of fun and free opportunities that can help teach children about the natural environment, as well as how to live more sustainably. 

We’ve pulled together our four favourite activities that will prise your kids away from their screens, provide fun for all the family and help create a safe, sustainable habitat for our native wildlife.  What are you waiting for?  Let’s get started!

It’s A Bug’s Life!

Keep creepy crawlies cosy and content by building them their very own insect hotel.   Butterflies, woodlice and ladybirds will use this dedicated space as a nesting site, or somewhere to safely hibernate throughout the cold winter snaps.  Plus, an insect hotel is a great place for pollinators such as bees and wasps to thrive.  Which in turn is ideal if you grow your own fruit and vegetables.
And making your very own insect and bug hotel could not be simpler.  Create a professional-looking bespoke bug hotel with pitched roof and individual ‘rooms’ by nailing small planks of wood together (watch out for those little fingers!)  Then, create compartments by adding easy to find garden debris, such as dry leaves, twigs, bark, stones and cones.  You can even add corks, wooden tubes and any natural bits and pieces that fit – anything to create the individual nooks and crannies that creepy crawlies love to hide amongst.

The beauty really is that you can create a completely bespoke hotel, whatever size, scale and colour you like.  Then, find a quiet, shady and slightly raised place to site your bug hotel.  Anywhere that’s partially covered by foliage is ideal (and try to avoid dining or children’s play areas).  Nail to the back of a shed, or onto a fence and watch wait for the insects to appear.  This can take a few weeks, depending on the season and if you find there isn’t much activity – simply reposition to a new spot.

Place your kids on insect watch and let the fun begin!

Feed The Birds

 
We think the easiest way to encourage wildlife into your garden is to simply install a bird bath.  As well as adding a focal point to your outside space, whatever its style and size, a bird bath or table that is regularly topped up with fresh drinking water, will keep common, native garden birds coming back to your garden week after week.
Give your kids the role of bird bath monitor and encourage them to keep it topped up with fresh water.  The whole family will be rewarded with the sight of sparrows, robins, blue tits and chaffinches.
Plus, bird baths need very little maintenance and really do look great in any garden.  In the winter months, keep an eye out for freezing water that will prevent garden birds from getting the water they need to survive.  A simple trick is to add a tennis ball to the water, which will gently agitate it and prevent freezing.
Bake a batch of high-energy, nutritious suet balls studded with seeds and nuts to help sustain our feathered friends during the harsh winter months.  Simply pour the mixture into half a coconut shell or place on your stone bird table, to be used time and time again.  This is a fun activity for the whole family and placing these in your garden will encourage birds to flock in droves!

Clever Composting

Composting, or creating fertilizer from garden and vegetable waste, requires patience as it can take up to a year to develop.  But, composting can help bring science lessons to life and as the saying goes, good things really do come to those who wait.
Whether you choose to build your very own composting space (ideally at the back of your garden), or opt for a readymade composting bin (available from good garden centres), composting is a great way for children to learn more about nature.
Fill your composting area as often as you can with fallen leaves and grass cuttings, as well as windfall fruit that would usually go to waste.  You can even add vegetable peelings, eggs shells and tea bags as these are all ideal for natural composting.  Why not encourage your kids to add this into their daily routine?
Add a layer of soil on top to encourage earthworms and microorganisms – these will help break down all that waste.  Turn every couple of weeks with a pitchfork to encourage an even breakdown of compost and voila!  You have a very eco-friendly fertilizer that will help your garden plants to flourish, as well as saving you money in the long-run.
Plus, the less kitchen waste that ends up in landfill, the better.  Composting means you are helping to keep a lid on increasing greenhouse gases too.

Gardening is Looking Up

When it comes to modern gardening, you really don’t need a large outside space.  In fact, one of the fastest-growing trends to grow your own produce, is vertical gardening.  Originally designed with urbanites in mind, vertical gardening is becoming more and more popular in urban and more rural communities alike.  Plus, kids love the novelty that vertical gardening brings!
Perfect where space is limited, vertical garden frames can be used to grow vegetables and herbs, or to simply provide a designated and tidy space for smaller plants.  They are also ideal for covering unattractive walls and to breathe life on to brickwork.
Easy to set-up and maintain upright frames can easily be pre-bought from garden centres or online, and you can even choose a choice of inbuilt irrigation systems.  Or, create your own – you can find a handy how to guide here.
Strawberry and tomato plants are some of the best climbers you can grow on a vertical frame and the kids will love harvesting the plentiful sweet fruits.  Hardy fuchsias and petunias are also perfect for vertical gardening frames and will provide months of vivid colour throughout the warmer season.

Encouraging your children to step away from their screens and get more involved in gardening will bring so many benefits to the whole family, and help our natural wildlife to thrive.  Have fun and let us know how you get on!

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