Design Elements for a “Growing Up” Garden

Tips for designing a garden for kids.

January 9, 2013

Think about incorporating some or all of these ideas for an exciting, inspirational, and long-lasting space for growing children.

A lawn is great for running and games, but add different levels, such as rock walls, tree stumps, and mounded earth where children can climb and look down. 


Allow space for time with friends—places to relax, gathering spots such as firepits, and play areas for games.

Learning and discovery
The garden is an educational tool. Plants that change throughout the year give lessons about the seasons, insects under rocks reveal the world of wildlife, and helping to design elements in a yard teaches about utility and enjoyment of space.

Sensory stimulation
All five senses should be at work: hearing rustling trees and falling water; touching various plant textures, such as tree bark and leaves; tasting fresh produce; smelling the earth and flowers; seeing the changes as a plant grows.

Connection to food
Vegetable gardens and fruit trees demonstrate how food grows and provide opportunities to taste a fresh harvest and learn how to cook meals.

Incorporate hiding places and secret spots behind shrubbery screens, under decks, and in playhouses.

Ponds, fountains, and birdbaths not only provide a place to splash and enjoy water but serve as magnets for wildlife that children can observe and interact with.

See these design elements in action: Room to Grow

Photo by Bob Stefko