Gardening Fun: Tips for Getting Your Kids Outdoors

Are you eager to entice your kids to spend more time outdoors? Bord Bia Bloom feature garden designer NICOLA HAINES shares some ideas to teach children about nature and encourage an interest in gardening.

There are three things that landscape designer, Nicola Haines, tries to include in every garden she designs – water saving techniques, composting, and a grow-your-own food area. Not only are they important for the environment, they are also helpful tools to teach children about nature and to get them interested in gardening from an early age.

‘A lot of people have lost the connection with how food is produced, and many kids today don’t know how food arrives on their plates. Growing your own fruit and vegetables at home is a great way to teach kids the value of food and to encourage them to get out into the garden and have fun. This is something you can do in any size space, even a balcony or patio. All you need is a pot and some seeds.’

Nicola Haines

A mother of three, Nicola has noted that young people today are more conscious about healthy eating and growing your own food is a great way to support them on this journey. Fruits are a great place to start with children of all ages. I’ve yet to meet a kid who doesn’t love raspberries and it’s wonderful to send them out to pick them for their breakfast in the morning. As my boys are getting older, we’ve been experimenting with other crops. We’ve had limited success with growing plant protein but we’re going to try again and this year we’re also trying chickpeas and quinoa, which we should be able to grow here in Ireland. If something doesn’t grow as you anticipated, don’t worry, just try something different. For us, it’s all about getting out and seeing what works.’

Water butts, composts and other sustainable gardening features are important measures for any biodiverse garden but they also help to educate children about conserving water, reducing food waste, and protecting the environment, says Nicola. ‘Wormeries are another great idea as all kids love worms. I have two and when my boys were small, they loved going out to feed the worms with their friends on play dates! It’s a wonderful way to teach children how nature works.’

Nicola’s Shared Spaces Family Garden at Bord Bia Bloom this will be full of features to interest children. While it has been created for a family with teenagers and young adults, it can be adapted to suit any household, she says, with vegetable beds and hangout zones appealing to all ages. The garden was originally designed as part of Bord Bia’s successful Easy Steps to Dream Gardens initiative. Click here to see the plans.