Kids love to help out! Well, ok, not always. But sometimes they do! And giving them some tasks to do in the garden or yard can help them learn responsibility and begin to appreciate nature. But what chores should they do, based on their age?
General Guidelines for Children Working in the Garden
We’ve tried to create a list of age-appropriate chores that children can do. It’s by no means a comprehensive list. It’s not a hard-and-fast guide, either – some children may take longer to be ready for particular tasks, while others may be ahead of their peers.
We’ve tried to take several factors into account in creating this guide. Age is generally related to brain development and maturity, a key factor. But so is the child’s physical size. It’s never good to ask them to handle tools or items that are too big for them or not within reaching distance.
As a parent, grandparent, or guardian, you have to judge for yourself what your child is ready for. But we hope our suggestions will be helpful as you make those decisions! We’d also love to hear your ideas for chores that children can do; the comment section below is open!
Age Appropriate Ideas for Garden and Yard Work
“Chores” may be a bit much for children under 2. But they (sometimes) love to do what mom or dad are doing, and there are a couple of tasks that they can “help” with in the yard.
First, you can remind them to pick up their toys and return them to their proper storage place.
There are some other simple tasks they can help with, too.
- Pulling dandelions. The flowers are easy to recognize, so you don’t have to worry (much) about them pulling up some prized plant instead;
- Water the plants. A small watering can is manageable for most young children. They can work on a section of the garden that’s “all their own.” Of course, you might want to check that the plants get enough water;
- “Paint” the fence. Not real paint, of course! Instead, give your child a small bucket of water and a paintbrush, and let them have at it! They’ll feel like they’re participating. And if you’re lucky, you’ll have a cleaner fence!
Children from three to five years old can take a more active role in yard care. They have more understanding – and more physical coordination. And it’s a fantastic time for them to begin to learn some level of responsibility.
Here are some suggestions:
- Help plant seeds. At this age, youngsters will be fascinated as they watch seeds sprout and grow into fruits or flowers. They will love working around the flower bed or starting seedlings in the house;
- Water the plants with a hose. These children can manage the hose and understand how to start and stop the water. They will also have a decent idea of judging how much water to use, although you probably still need to supervise them;
- Sponge down outdoor furniture. With a sponge and a bucket, they can wipe down tables and chairs. Cleaning the swings is another helpful task;
- Pick ripe tomatoes.
Once children are this age, they have responsibility reinforced in school. They’re ready to take on even more complex tasks at home, too.
Around the yard, they can:
- Pull weeds;
- Sweep the porch and patio;
- Help check the lawn for sticks, toys, or pebbles before you run the lawnmower;
- Rake leaves;
- Harvest fruits and vegetables.
In middle school, children aren’t quite ready for every task involved in yard work. But they can take on more responsibility.
For instance, they could:
- Test the pool water;
- Using a pool skimmer to remove debris;
- Assist in balancing chlorine and other pool chemicals;
- Clean the birdbath and fill bird feeders (younger children could handle these, but we put them here because they might not be tall enough yet!);
- Spread mulch and fertilizer;
- Adding material to the compost bin;
- Seeding the lawn;
- Using the power washer to wash siding or the patio.
By this age, your soon-to-be adults can handle almost everything! They should be mature enough to handle bladed tools and power tools, as well. They also have the strength for tougher tasks:
- Take the trash bins to the curb (and bring them back);
- Trimming hedges with bladed or electric tools;
- Mowing the lawn;
- Tilling soil;
- Tossing the compost heap (younger children might lack the strength).
Chores around the garden and yard are a great way to keep your children engaged and active. They also learn responsibility and (at least some of them, at some ages) will be thrilled to be helping out! Choose tasks appropriate to their age, size, and maturity level so that they can work alongside you safely and gain a sense of satisfaction.