By Your Family Today

Gardening may be good for the soul, but it’s also good for saving on grocery bills, beautifying your yard and lowering your stress level. And when the whole family gets into the act, it’s a fun and healthy way to bond with your kids. Helping plan and plant a garden gives kids a sense of accomplishment. It also motivates them to eat their veggies. But the best part of family gardening is that you all get to play in the dirt together!

Here’s how to get started growing a family garden:

1. Figure out what will grow best

Deciding what to grow depends on the area in which you plan to plant: How much sunlight does it get? What type of soil (rich or sandy, for instance) does it have? Talk to the staff and read the cards that come with plants at your local gardening center before you get started.

2. Personalize your plants

Let each family member choose a plant to call his own -- and to look after. Explain to young children that plants don’t always survive, and tell them they can choose a new one if theirs doesn’t do well. Also remind them that even though each family member has a special plant, the whole garden is a shared space.

3. Assign age-appropriate jobs and tools

Young kids can hold the hose or watering can, and older ones can tie vines to stakes -- and everyone gets to hunt for ripe tomatoes and strawberries! Metal gardening shovels and hand rakes can be heavy and sharp, so consider getting a child-ready tool set that’s safe for little ones.

4. Get into gear

Protect your family against sun, scratches and thorns. Slather on sunscreen, wear hats and long-sleeve shirts, and get everyone a pair of gardening gloves. And when it’s time for watering, go for all-out fun by letting the kids wear bathing suits or rain gear!

5. Decorate the space

Your kids can decorate the garden with found stones (painted, if you like), pieces of broken flowerpots or their own artwork to make the garden feel like home. And you can add your own artistic touches by decorating wooden gardening stakes.

6. Keep it fun

Gardening with kids should be fun, not work. If they lose interest or get too tired, let them play in the yard while you keep going. When you’re done, turn on the sprinkler and let them loose!

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Growing a Family Garden with Your Family