If you’ve considered planting a backyard garden but were daunted by the maintenance requirements, never fear. Many plants that grow in Missouri don’t require a lot of work, and children of all ages can help out too. Gardening comes with many tremendous benefits for the whole family, so don’t put off this fulfilling hobby any longer. Use this handy guide by Crème de la Crème of Ellisville to get started with your easy-care garden today.

Why Should Your Family Plant a Garden?

A young girl helps her grandfather water the plants in their low-maintenance garden in Ellisville, Missouri

Grandfather and granddaughter gardening” licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Flickr by shixart1985

Gardening can be an easy and fun activity you share with kids as young as 2. Whether you decide to put in a raised bed or add a few potted herbs to your windowsill, this is one hobby that comes with loads of perks. Gather the little ones in the garden, and enjoy:

  • Bonding with children of all ages — even busy teenagers.
  • Harvesting delicious ingredients for dinner.
  • Feeling better, thanks to wholesome foods bursting with nutrients on the table.
  • Spending time outdoors, soaking up fresh air and sunshine.
  • Relaxing and destressing after just 30 minutes in the garden.
  • Worrying less about food recalls, potential hazards from commercial farming, and spoilage during transportation.
  • Nurturing other creatures that will visit your garden, like butterflies.
  • Leaving a smaller carbon footprint and improving your neighborhood’s ecology.
  • Reaping its rewards, like a sense of accomplishment for a job well done. 

Tips for Busy and Novice Gardeners

If the kids have been begging to put some plants in the ground, it’s time to get started. With a bit of planning, you’ll be well on your way to a bountiful harvest. Use these tips to kick start your low-maintenance garden the right way, including:

Start Small

One of the most common mistakes new gardeners make is biting off more than they can chew. So start with one raised bed or a few potted plants. It’s also a good idea to limit the number of varieties you put in the ground. Stick to no more than three.

Choose Your Plants Carefully

If you don’t want to spend your summer days pruning your garden, be selective about what you choose to plan. Stick with seedlings that thrive in Ellisville’s 6a hardiness zone. If you decide to grow edibles, select plants that even your pickiest toddlers will eat, and consider steering clear of potentially risky options like habanero peppers.

Mulch, Mulch, and Mulch Again

Most expert gardeners stress the importance of mulching your backyard garden. It offers budding horticulturists a few enormous benefits, like reducing weeding and watering requirements. These two high-maintenance chores are some of the top reasons backyard gardens don’t make it to harvest, so don’t skip this vital step.

Flex Your Modern Green Thumb

Innovations abound in every industry, and thankfully the experts didn’t forget about gardening. Get creative and take advantage of modern technology that will boost your motivation and help with essential plant-care duties, like:

  • Hydroponic systems that don’t require dirt and can grow herbs in a gloomy basement.
  • Bluetooth-enabled monitors that watch your plant’s moisture, temperature, light, and fertilizer levels.
  • Garden cameras with time-lapse digital photography that provides Instagram-worthy images.
  • Smart device apps that can help you lay out your plot before you even head outside.

Start With Easy Care Herbs

If you have a budding chef in the family, consider growing herbs. These easy-care plants are perfect for your first low-maintenance garden. Top chefs love tossing a handful of freshly picked herbs into their favorite creations, so why not enjoy this luxury at home?

Growing herbs is a terrific option because most well-established varieties produce bountiful harvests. Some plants are so prolific. They have enough foliage to dry and store for later use. Another marvelous thing about growing herbs is they’re so versatile. Most are happy both inside and out, sowed directly in the ground or potted in a container. They are as content on your kitchen’s windowsill as they are basking in the sun on your deck. According to one expert horticulturist, the easiest herbs to grow include:

  • Sage.
  • Parsley.
  • Oregano.
  • Mint.
  • Thyme.
  • Dill.
  • Chives.
  • Cilantro.
  • Lemongrass.
  • Bay Laurel.
  • Basil.
  • Tarragon.

Try a Few Low-Maintenance Vegetables

Science shows a direct connection with gardening and the infamous clean plate club. It turns out that gardening before and after school comes with a few unexpected advantages. The study found that students who gardened and took cooking and nutrition classes ate more vegetables than they did before participating in the program.

If that’s not reason enough to plan some space in your plot for veggies, another reason is the nearly endless list of low-maintenance varieties. Lean toward your family’s favorite grocery store picks in your first growing season, like potatoes, and avoid making beginner mistakes. One way to set you and the kids up for success is to take advantage of gadgets like hanging pots, then start with one or two vegetables from this list:

  • Radishes.
  • Lettuce.
  • Green Beans.
  • Potatoes.
  • Cucumbers.
  • Spinach.
  • Peas.
  • Bell peppers.
  • Zucchini.

Go Out on a Limb With Fuss-Free Fruits

Fruit-bearing plants produce beautiful, fragrant flowers and tasty fruit year after year. Planting a fuss-free fruit may be the best addition to your family’s backyard. Apple trees are Missouri’s most popular tree because they grow well in the 6a hardiness zone. Even novice arborists can sow varieties like Honeycrisp, Gala, and Macintosh right in your garden soil. Just remember — some varieties take a few years to produce fruit.

Kids especially love biting into a juicy piece of fruit. There are many ways to take advantage of your sweet harvest, from strawberries fresh off the vine to a basket of peaches. So go out on a limb and cultivate:

  • Pears.
  • Plums.
  • Cherries.
  • Apricots.
  • Strawberries.
  • Blackberries.
  • Raspberries.
  • Blueberries.
  • Watermelon.
  • Cantaloupe.
  • Honeydew melon.

There you have it! Crème de la Crème of Ellisville just delivered this list of kid-friendly tips for planting a low-maintenance garden in Missouri. Does your family have a favorite gardening tip that we didn’t include? Perhaps a method that your grandparents passed down for generations? Drop us a line so we can share it with other locals.