How Does Your Garden Grow? Gardening with Toddlers

Spring means it’s time to start thinking about planting a garden or tending to the one you already have! If you enjoy gardening, then engage your kids. Gardening with toddlers perfectly blends sensory, science, and nature!

Your little one will learn about caring for plants, which builds empathy, the lifecycle of living things, and spending time outdoors, which improves our mood. Gardening and yardwork are great forms of exercise the whole family can enjoy!

If you’re looking for fantastic tips on how to start gardening with your kids, head over to or peek at this kid-friendly vegetable gardening plan from Better Homes and Gardens, shown below. What types of plants are in this ideal garden plan? Sunflowers, varieties of tomatoes, peppers, ‘pacman’ broccoli, green onions, carrots, cucumbers, lettuce, and more. You can download the free plan from here!

The garden pictured above from Good Housekeeping is designed around color to encourage toddlers and kids to eat a rainbow of veggies! If you don’t have a lot of space, you can plant a small or indoor vegetable garden. Kids are more likely to try new foods When they are involved in growing food or shopping, meal planning, and prepping.

Small Garden Tips

  • Use verticle planters
  • Plant companion plants
  • Plant compact veggies
  • Plant an edible landscape
  • Grow herbs indoors

Consider growing a Pizza Garden. This garden is designed to be grown in small spaces or containers and grows all the fresh items you need to create a homemade pizza. It is definitely toddler-approved.

Flower Gardens

If you’d rather have a garden full of flowers and plants, head to a local garden shop to learn about which plants are native to your area and will grow best in the sun and soil conditions you have. 

Planting a butterfly garden is also an excellent idea. The same plants that attract butterflies will attract and nurture bees, which will help with pollination. However, these plants should be avoided if your child has a bee allergy.

At the very least, the experience of growing the plants and walking through the garden will stimulate the senses. Providing a sensory experience is crucial for toddler development.

Toddlers are the best natural explorers! They are discovering their world through touch, sight, hearing, smell, and taste. A garden is a perfect environment for exploration. Your little one can take a magnifying glass, trowel, and their own gardening gloves to explore what’s growing!

Tips on Gardening with Toddlers

Planting the garden is half the battle. Here are a few other tips for growing a garden with a toddler in tow:


  • Check out picture books about gardens and gardening from your local library or bookstore to help your child understand what happens when seeds are planted. Check out Up, Down, and Around by Katherine Ayres and illustrator Nadine Bernard Westcott.

  • Create plant labels. Have your child help you create picture plant labels to attach to garden stakes. This will help your child remember what you planted and where those plants are located in the garden. There are some GREAT homemade garden stake ideas over on

  • Get in the kitchen. Have your child help by washing the tomatoes before you cook or sprinkling basil or other herbs into your pasta sauce. You can start this now before your plants even grow with store-bought produce. Cultivate their anticipation with comments like “Oh! See this bright red tomato. We are growing these right in our backyard and will be able to pick our own later this summer.”

Other Garden Ideas for Toddlers

If you’re like me and love the idea of gardening but are horrible at the execution of it, there are still some great gardening ideas to engage your tots!


  • Pick a few hearty house plants that are tough to kill and engage your child in watering and caring for the plant.

  • Head to a local farmer’s market once or twice a month to pick out fresh produce. Try something new each time you go!

  • Do you live in or near a big city? Then, chances are there is a Botanical Garden. My sons used to love roaming around the Chicago Botanic Garden on a nice day when we lived there. Many gardens have sections devoted just to kids.

Check out the National Gardening Association for more tips and tricks for gardening with tots.

Updated March 18, 2024, by L. Elizabeth Forry

written by

L. Elizabeth Forry 

L. Elizabeth Forry is an Early Childhood Educator with fifteen years of classroom teaching experience. She earned a Master of Science in Early Childhood Education from The University of North Dakota and has a Bachelor of Arts in English and one in Music from Lebanon Valley College. She has taught children in Japan, Washington D.C., Chicago, and suburban Maryland. She is trained as a reading therapist, has a TEFL certification, and has done extensive work with children regarding mental health, social-emotional development, gender development. She has written curriculum for children and educators and has led training sessions for parents and educators on various topics on early childhood development. She is the mother of two boys and resides outside of Annapolis, Maryland.

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