Whether you’re looking for an easy garden to grow some fresh veggies for your salads and cooking or you want an ongoing project to share with your kids, planting a low-maintenance garden is the way to go. Kids love playing in the dirt, so why not encourage some learning and caring for plants in the process? Here’s how to start and maintain an easy garden on your property.
What to Plant
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Flowering plants and ground cover that are kid- and Zone-8-friendly include:
- Creeping thyme.
- Phlox paniculata (or Blue Paradise).
- Agastache Blue Fortune.
- Frost Nip Dahlias.
- Echinacea plants (or coneflowers).
- Sea thrift.
- Spotted dead-nettle.
Landscape roses are also a great choice for ground cover and an elegant look. Spotted Dead Nettle is especially convenient because it is resistant to deer and other common garden pests. These are all colorful, promising an easy but eye-catching garden.
Common easy-to-grow fruits and vegetables include:
If you choose a vegetable and fruit garden, your chart will need to include picking the ripe produce to encourage more growth and keep the plants healthy. Keep in mind that many seedlings will need to be started inside before planting them in the garden.
Phlox Paniculata (or Blue Paradise) is especially ideal for kid-friendly gardens because it spreads quickly, providing an easy way to get a lot of color with little effort. Blue Paradise flowers attract butterflies and hummingbirds, giving kids opportunities to see and interact with these fun little creatures. This is also an excellent option for ground cover in areas you want to fill in with color or simply cover up some dirt.
Keep a close eye on this plant, though, because it can fall victim to mildew if it’s over-watered or over-crowded.
Lemon Queen Sunflowers
The Lemon Queen Sunflower is another great flower to plant with kids. These will come back year after year once you plant them, and they bloom in late summer and early fall. They can grow up to 8 feet tall, exciting for young kids to look up to. Lemon Queens form a dense mound wherever they are planted, so they can create a beautiful natural border for your yard. Sunflowers are also great for simple gift bouquets for your kids’ teachers.
If you’re new to growing vegetables, lettuce is a great place to start. It produces leaves quickly and is very easy to care for. You can plant several varieties to enjoy in salads or cook in a variety of recipes. Lettuce does best in the early spring and fall, away from the hot summer sun, so you can actually have two lettuce crops each year. Varieties ideal for Zone 8 include Slo-Bolt loose-leaf, romaine, radicchio, and arugula.
Keep in mind that leafy greens like kale and spinach will need to be picked quickly as they can dry out in the warm sun. Pay close attention to the planting and growing instructions for each seed or plant to ensure that they are started and spaced out properly.
Tomatoes are the perfect starter veggies for kids. They can grow in pots or the ground. You can easily find a wide variety of tomato seeds to see different sizes and colors. Kids will also enjoy keeping an eye on the development of the tomatoes from flowers to green young tomatoes and finally to their red and ripe stage. Tomatoes are also easy to use to cook kid-friendly foods like sauces for spaghetti or pizza.
Pumpkins are also great to plant for your Halloween decor and pie fillings in the fall. One pumpkin seed can grow into a huge, long plant that will climb down hills or across yards. You can guide the plant quite easily, but be careful not to plant a bunch of pumpkin plants together, or they will take over your yard. Try a few different varieties to have small pumpkins for your table and giant ones for jack-o’-lanterns. Pumpkins take as long as 100 days to mature, so they can be exciting for kids to watch and anticipate.
Fruits can be a little harder to start because they typically take time to produce. If you start from seed, berries could take a few years before you see any fruit. Start with some mature plants from a local fruit and garden store and simply replant them in your garden. Strawberry and blueberry plants are great because they stay low to the ground, easy for little ones to pick and enjoy.
Try growing a Meyer lemon tree in your garden to a beautiful focal point and future lemonade the kids will love. Meyer lemon trees do well outdoors in Zone 8 and produce fruit in just two years after planting. Trees can be started from seed, but they will likely take a long time to produce fruit and usually are more difficult to keep healthy. If you want big, impressive lemons, you can simply prune the tree regularly before fruit matures. It’s best to buy a tree from a trusted grower and transplant it into your yard.
Get the Kids Involved
Kids can learn a lot from starting and maintaining a garden. In addition to enjoying the pretty colors and yummy results of a garden, children can benefit from gardening by:
- Learning organizational skills and responsibility.
- Learning about botany.
- Getting outdoor exercise from planting, weeding, watering, and picking.
- Making bouquets for friends, family, and teachers.
- Watching bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, and other creatures interact with the plants.
Planting a low-maintenance garden allows you and your family to enjoy the fun of taking care of the plants without stressing. This is the best way to plant a low-maintenance garden according to Crème de la Crème of Plano, TX.. Drop us a line and let us know how your gardening experience is going. Did we miss any important tips? Let us know, and we’ll add them to the article.