Looking to plant the ULTIMATE kids’ garden with your children? Get step-by-step instructions for this easy 1-2-3 garden idea below, as well as ten more playful kids’ garden ideas!
Want to make your backyard awesome? I double dog dare you to read this post and not add this child-friendly garden idea to your summer to-do list.
I admit, when we embarked on this unique kids’ garden, I didn’t realize that it would be a source of joy the ENTIRE SUMMER. We’ve grown potted planters and raised vegetable gardens with our kids in the past, but after a week or so their attention always wained. Building a sunflower house has been a completely different experience. This kids’ garden will foster lifelong memory because…
By building a sunflower house, you’re creating a children’s garden that is also a magical living fort.
In other words, your kids’ garden becomes a DIY playhouse that they engage with throughout the summer. Suddenly, your children’s garden becomes a secret hideaway, a clubhouse for sibling meetings, an outdoor fort to share with neighbors, and a private reading nook.
Imagination is the most marvelous, miraculous, inconceivably powerful force the world. — Napoleon Hill, Share this quote image on Pinterest | Facebook
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With this kids’ garden, you’ll foster not only creativity but also a love of science. The sunflowers will hold their attention throughout summer as they grow past their knees, produce leaves the size of their hands, and eventually gigantic blooms that tower over the heads of the adults in their lives. They’ll notice butterfly and bumble bees as the sunflower bloom in the summer and birds picking out the seeds in the fall.
But this living kids’ fort goes even beyond even creativity and science; it is also a gratitude garden. Your children will pause and notice the beauty in the diversity of the sunflowers. Plus, mid-summer the smaller sunflowers are perfect for creating bouquets, giving you the opportunity to write a kind note (or draw a picture!) and gift a friend some sunshine.
Are you ready to get started?
How to Grow The Ultimate Kids’ Garden — Build a Sunflower Fort!
The directions for this DIY outdoor playhouse are as easy as 1-2-3.
1 — Pick a spot for your outdoor fort and dig the outline for your kids’ garden.
To get started on this DIY fort, you’ll want to look for a kid-friendly place in your yard which gets a lot of sunshine. We are planting sunflowers after all!
Next, outline the shape of your children’s garden fort. Circles are more fun than squares, so we used a swimming pool as our backyard fort guide. I admit I did get a lot of random comments from my neighbors when we dug what appeared to be a random circle in our front yard. (In the end, everyone came around with genuinely kind comments about the beauty of the sunflowers.)
Be sure to leave a small gap for an easy-to-access entrance.
2 — Build privacy into this kids’ playhouse by using a wide variety of sunflower seeds.
Mammoth sunflowers are a MUST when creating this DIY playhouse —Yes, an absolute must! While the giant sunflowers are fantastic, it is important to plant smaller sunflowers as well. The variety in size helps to create a sense of privacy within the outdoor playhouse.
The best flowers for kids (and this children’s garden fort) include:
- American Giant Sunflowers — Up to 16 feet high with 10-inch blooms
- Mammoth Sunflowers — 9 to 12 feet tall with 12-inch blooms
- Red Sun Sunflowers — 5 feet tall with 3-inch blooms
- Dwarf Sunflowers — 18 inches tall with 10-inch blooms
You’ll want to get a variety of sunflower seeds ranging in size and colors. If you don’t want to purchase four different packs of seeds for your kids’ play fort, consider splurging on the giant or mammoth and getting a mixed variety sunflower pack. Variety packs works great too!
Remember, the purpose of this unique DIY fort is gardening with kids, so be sure to get your children involved in the seed planting. Most of the smaller sunflower seeds we let the kids toss in and sow independently with their children’s gardening tools. Here are a few of our favorite kids’ garden toys from our partners over at Melissa & Doug:
That all being said, we did strategically place the giant and mammoth sunflowers to ensure they had room to thrive, but we opted for every 12 inches (rotating between the two) instead of the recommended 24 inches. This planting strategy helps ensure the kids’ garden house offers a sense of privacy.
You can plant your kids’ garden any time after your region is frost-free. Most of the smaller sunflower seeds take about two weeks to germinate, while the larger giant and mammoth seeds can take up to twenty-one days. So we’ve generally planted late May for early June plants. Encourage your kids to take on the responsibility of watering the outdoor playhouse if there isn’t enough rain and the soil is dry.
3 — Watch this magical living kids’ fort GROW, GROW, GROW.
Once you build this awesome kids’ fort, you get to watch it grow all summer (and enjoy the variety of birds who feast on the seeds in the fall!).
Creating a kids’ garden is a wonderful reason to slow down in the morning before heading off to summer school to check on growth.
We encourage you to pause each morning to check the height of the plants, take a photo, or just dance around in the awesomeness of it all for a minute.
The girls immediately took to their private space by adding a gate even before the flowers came in. They would read in the fort, play dolls or sometimes just chit chat. Despite the plants being only a foot tall, they seemed to feel as if they were separate from the rest of the world.
The girls eventually dragged their slide over to the entrance to make the house a “kids only” zone.
You and the kids will have a wonderful time. Smiles guaranteed.
Watch the video of our sunflower adventure here. I know it is long, but sometimes as a mom, I just cannot edit out the excess; each photo, each twirl, each phase is precious to me. I know you understand!
SIDE NOTE: Did you like the cello music in the video? I instantly fell in love with Zoe Keating while listening to an interview on the podcast RadioLab. This song is the music of one cello that is looped and layered. Keep your curiosity alive by subscribing to the podcast RadioLab. You won’t regret it. Once you subscribe, let me know which specific episodes floor you!
Additional Kids’ Gardening Ideas
If in the end, a sunflower fort is not in the cards, here are a couple of other fun kids’ gardening ideas, activities, and resources:
- How to Make a Bean Pole Teepee
- How to Plant a Butterfly Garden
- How to Plant a Honey Bee Garden With Kids
- How to Build a Fairy Garden Table
- How To Make Dollar Store Dinosaur “Fairy” Gardens
- Skip Summer Burnout With a Chaos Garden
- How to Grow A Fairy Ring
- The Garden Classroom by Cathy James (Available on Amazon)
- The ultimate guide to gardening with kids
- 15+ Nature and Garden Crafts for Kids
If you do a sunflower house or one of the children’s garden ideas above, be sure to tag us on Instagram (@letslassothemoon) so we can see you kids’ garden!
NOTE: I do not recommend growing a sunflower fort for your children if anyone in your family has an allergy to bees. We played in our fort all summer without any stings or issues. The bees seemed to favor the taller sunflowers, so it wasn’t an issue for our family. Please use common sense when planning summer activities for your kids!
Photo Credit: Thank you to Marc Falardeau for making the beautiful sunflower at the start of the post a creative commons photo! Beautiful!
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