Mini Garden Ideas for Kids – Messy Play with Mud and Imagination

Did you know that your child learns lots of brilliant new skills when you give them the freedom to try new activities and get messy in the process? The seven blog posts in the international crafts for kids series share fun, messy activities from around the world that will help your child grow and develop.

Our recipe for making a mini kids’ garden has all the ingredients you need for teaching kids something new. It’s a great activity for 3 to 11 year olds as they are able to plan, execute, and evaluate whilst having fun – and this activity includes a bit of good, old fashioned dirt, too!

mini gardens for kids

What is a mini garden?

Making mini gardens is a fantastic kid’s craft. Doing this with your child will teach them how to turn the simplest of things, like an old tray and a bit of mud, into a magical garden straight from their imagination. All your child needs is a bit of mud and the encouragement to think creatively.

There is a lot to learn through gardening for kids

Planning a mini garden gives children the chance to talk through their ideas for their garden creation. It may be that you don’t have a garden of your own or aren’t keen to let them loose in your flower beds just yet. Giving them their own mini garden means they can be in charge of their own tiny space which will build their confidence and teach them the basics of plant care. And when they get their hands in the dirt and actually make the garden they’ll be developing their manual dexterity too.

Ingredients for a creative kids’ garden

The most important ingredient here is you. Give your child confidence by letting them know that it’s absolutely fine to get messy while they’re planning and making their mini garden. (And if you’re worried about muddy stains, we’ve got some good advice on how to deal with them at the end of this blog post.)

Next you need:

  • Lots of dirt! (Any sort of soil or compost will do)
  • A small container or box to make the mini garden in (a shallow tray or foil-lined shoe box will work)
  • Things to put in the garden – such as twigs, small plants, flowers
  • Decorations for the garden – like toys, decorations, pebbles
  • Water to make things grow
  • A trowel or a big spoon
  • Some old newspaper to catch any spilt soil

Encourage your child to be creative when they’re thinking of things to put in their mini garden. Twigs can be turned into mini trees, small plants can be mini bushes or hedges, pebbles can be mini paving stones. Perhaps a small cup of water can be a mini pond? And toy people and animals can be used to populate their mini garden.

How to do gardening for kids

First, the really messy part. This is where you let your little one get muddy hands, face and clothes.

  • Lay down some old newspaper on a table or floor so that it’s easy to clear up after the garden is complete.
  • Put the box or container on the newspaper and then trowel or spoon the soil into it.
  • You probably need to help smaller children with this but older children should be encouraged to get hands-on.

Remember, they won’t just be making a mess, they’ll also be learning good hand-eye coordination skills.

Next comes the planning.

  • Ask your little one to think about what they want to put in their mini garden and how they want it to look.
  • They could do a drawing first to design the garden like a landscaper would.
  • Help them to gather the right things for the garden – either from around the house or from your own garden or a nearby park.

Then comes the planting.

  • Let your child do this themselves unless they really are too young. They should plant their garden according to their design.
  • Don’t forget that plants will need water so you’ll need to water the mini garden just like any other.
  • Once the plants are in, it’s time to add the “design features” such as pebbles, garden furniture, or even a mini pond.

Finally help your child add the finishing touches – this could be grass or flowers – and some toy people or animals to live in the mini garden.

You’ll know the garden is ready when you’ve got a smiling child who is covered more or less from head to toe in mud or soil and a beautifully crafted miniature garden. These creative little gardens make a thoughtful gift for a friend or relative! Don’t worry too much if you find they have got mud on their cotton clothes from all the digging - it’s easy to get out. Just let the mud dry, then scrub with a brush.

Once you’ve scrubbed, wash on a normal cycle with the Surf excel detergent of your choice. For more stain removal tips, check the Stain Gang!

What’s your recipe for messy success with gardening for kids?

What are your tips for kids’ gardens? Share your mini garden ideas with us here in a comment.