GARDENING is a wonderful way to connect children with nature, broaden their imaginations and encourage a love for the great outdoors.
Nature Play WA provides tips on creating the ideal safe, inspiring and fun outdoor space for little ones.
Set aside space
Designate areas for play and give control of those areas to your child’s imagination. Allow them space to dig, but hide it from view with a tall grass. Create a sandpit right in your landscape. Leave yard space for running or create a circular path.
Create spaces for play
Create corners and nooks in your garden, lay out winding pathways, plant tall grasses and weeping trees, add a bubbling fountain, leave a fallen log for climbing and/or use a working gate to create the illusion of entering a different part of the yard.
Teaching kids to observe and respect living things will equip them with relational skills. Plant fruit, nut and seed-bearing plants, and put out a basin of water for birds. Compost your yard waste to keep a high population of slaters and worms.
Exercise your child’s green thumb
Create theme gardens such as an alphabet garden (with plants representing every letter) or a colour garden (red tomatoes, red cabbage). A herb garden with mints and basils can develop your children’s awareness of different smells and tastes.
Plants we love to grow
Tough plants that can take a beating: feather reed grass, lamb’s ear, willow. Plants to create hideaways: tall grasses such as sedge; weeping trees such as fig or willow; mulberries, apples and oaks are good climbing trees; sunflowers can grow into a tall fort. Plants to attract creatures: evening primrose for moths; sedum and columbine for butterflies; poppy, sunflower and buffalo grass for birds.
Common plants to avoid
Daffodil, elephant ear, foxglove, hyacinth, hydrangea, iris, lily-of-the-valley, philodendron, rhododendron, rhubarb, wisteria.