Get Your Hands Dirty! Here are 10 Benefits of Gardening with Kids

Gardening is a great way to get kids outside!

By Kara Murphy, publisher of Macaroni Kid Erie, Pa. April 4, 2024

Staying home more means more time for at-home projects we've always wanted to do but never felt like we had time for. For many people that means it's time to get dirty! Home gardening is experiencing a big boom right now.

We love gardening, not only because it allows you to grow your own food, but it's a great way to get kids outside and give them a better sense of where their food comes from.

Make gardening even more fun for kids by planting a "themed" garden, like a rainbow garden that includes vegetables that will come up in all the colors of the rainbow, a pizza garden that includes veggies your family likes to include on pizza, or a salsa garden that includes everything you need to make your own!

Here are 10 reasons to garden with kids:

1. Gardening engages all five senses

How does that dirt feel against your hands? Add water. Now what does it feel like? How does that tomato plant smell? How does that strawberry taste right off the vine? Can you hear that crunch from that carrot? Incorporating sensory exploration is easy in the garden!

2. Gardening encourages healthy eating

Even the pickiest eaters won't be able to resist trying veggies they've grown themselves! Try it straight out of the garden or cook it together in the kitchen -- you might find a new favorite food!

3. Gardening enhances fine motor development

Gardening encourages the development of fine motor skills every step of the way, from picking up tiny seeds to gently caring for seedlings and plants.

4. Gardening is science

What makes leaves green? Why do plants need sunlight to thrive? Why do plants grow better in loamy soil than clay? Explore science together while gardening -- more proof learning can be fun!

5. Gardening is a great family activity

Although gardening can definitely be a lot of work, doing it together as a family makes it fun. It's a great time to have conversations without electronics getting in the way.

6. Gardening teaches responsibility

Plants require a lot of attention. Learning how to care for the plants properly -- from watering to weeding -- is a great lesson in responsibility for kids.

7. Gardening helps kids learn to plan and organize

Some plants grow better at certain times of the year. Others do well next to another specific plant. Some grow nicely in rows, while others, like wildflower seeds, can be sprinkled around. Gardening is an opportunity to chat with your kids about research and planning.

8. Gardening creates environmental stewards

Kids who understand how much time, effort, and care goes into growing food will understand how important farmers are, and why it's important to take care of our Earth. 

9. Gardening develops math skills

How far apart should seeds be planted? How many does that mean you can plant in each row? How much water does each potted planter need? How many hours of sunlight will plants get each day? Math is a big part of gardening!

10. Gardening teaches patience

The time it takes to grow a seed to harvesting your veggies takes weeks, if not months! Gardening is all about patience ... and it's always worth the wait!

Kara Murphy is the publisher of Macaroni Kid Erie, Pa.