Quality family time looks different for everyone. I used to have regular board game nights with my parents, which created tons of memories I’ll always cherish.

Recently, I decided to merge my love for the outdoors with my family by learning how to start a garden. It quickly became one of the best things I ever did. If you’re a dad like me seeking an opportunity to bond with your children and family, I highly recommend this activity, even if you don’t have a green thumb.

Check out my best tips on starting a family garden if you think your loved ones would enjoy one, too. It’s a great way to involve your kids and parents in one big project that teaches life skills, brings everyone together and creates something beautiful for all to admire.

1. Get Everyone’s Input on Plants

If you’re wondering how to start a garden in your backyard, picking plants is a good starting point. Invite your parents or in-laws over to chat about all things plants with your kids. Everyone can discuss whether they want to grow flowers or vegetables and break those categories into specific plants. I knew I wanted to grow carrots, so that was our starting point. All you need is one type of plant to begin your gardening adventure.

2. Pick a Location

Once you know what you’ll grow, research your selected plants. They’ll need a specific amount of sunlight each day, which influences where your garden can form roots. Note how much sun each of your selected plants will need based on typical sun conditions, like:

  • Full sun: Six or more hours of total sunlight exposure each day
  • Partial sun: Around four to six hours of full sun exposure daily
  • Partial shade: Two to four hours of sunshine each day
  • Full shade: Less than two hours of sun every day

Getting too much sun or not enough will keep your garden from thriving. After noting how much sunshine your future plants require, you can select a location. Who has the most space for your plants? Your garden could bloom in your backyard or on your parents’ back porch.

3. Consider Your Family Schedule

Time is another essential factor for family gardens. How much will everyone contribute to your plants? I knew I had more time to garden with my son in the afternoons than my parents. They also have a bit of a drive to our house, which I couldn’t make work with my son’s school schedule.

Ask your parents or in-laws how much they can help care for your garden long-term. How much do you want your kids to get involved? Setting up your schedule now makes it easier to keep your plants alive as the months pass.

4. Pick a Form of Gardening

There are a few types of gardening to consider before heading to your local plant nursery. First, you should research your selected plants. Perennial varieties like daylilies or daffodils typically take longer to grow, as they form intricate root systems and thrive all year round. Annual plants like marigolds and pansies grow quickly but only last for specific seasons. Noting when your garden will need the most care helps people decide where it will go and who shoulders more of the responsibilities.

Additionally, consider if your plants will go in the ground or above-ground pots. We found that my parents could garden a bit longer if they worked on plants in standing garden containers. It was easier on their knees and helped them garden longer with my son. Talk with any family members who will get involved with your plants to get their thoughts on similar details.

5. Create Your Budget

Though your family garden might not require a big long-term budget, you’ll still need to spend some money upfront. Work with your in-laws or parents to list everything your garden will require, like:

  • Seeds
  • Potting soil
  • Containers
  • Hand tools
  • Sprinklers
  • Hoses
  • Fertilizer

You can check prices online and at local nurseries to estimate the total starting cost. Splitting that estimate makes it easier to jump-start your family bonding activity. Adding a garden to your yard may even increase your property value, so you could get your money back if you need to move one day.

6. Pick Your Start Date

Estimate when you’ll have all of your supplies at your garden’s location and when everyone can gather there for the first time. You’ll start your gardening adventure in a timely manner by picking a firm date when everyone is free.

7. Assign Everyone’s Responsibilities 

Gardening is an excellent way to teach your child about responsibilities in a safe environment. Get everyone together to discuss how they’ll support your plants. Talk about how often you’ll need to water based on each plant’s specific care needs. Discuss weeding and general maintenance as well so your garden gets every chance to thrive under your collective care.

8. Share or Keep a Calendar

Your start date and ongoing gardening responsibilities are much easier to manage if everyone shares the same calendar. I downloaded a calendar app to my parents’ phones and scheduled reminders for their weekend gardening responsibilities. Did you know that 70% of American adults use digital calendars to manage their daily lives? I can’t imagine what I’d do without mine!

Even if your family members prefer to go old-school and keep a physical calendar, everyone should develop a system that reminds them when it’s their turn to devote more time to your family garden. We can keep up our plants simply by checking who is watering them next on our calendar, which streamlines our communication and makes everything easier.

Start Your Family Garden Today

Creating a family garden is one of the best ideas I’ve ever had. It’s teaching my son how to manage his time and juggle responsibilities before he deals with things that have more significant consequences than wilted leaves. It has also brought my family closer together, which is something everyone deserves.

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About Jack Shaw

Jack Shaw is the senior lifestyle writer at Modded with special interest in navigating the ins and outs of interpersonal relationships and emotional health. You'll likely find him playing with his dog or exploring nature with his family in his free time. Feel free to reach out to him via LinkedIn.

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