Thursday, September 26, 2013

Build a Raised Garden: A Fun Family Project

A guest post by Maire Hunter

You want your kids to have fun and relax on the weekend, but you also want to spend quality time with them. Kids enjoy building, drawing and getting their hands dirty, so why not schedule a home improvement project that puts those talents to use? You’ll enjoy creating something together as a family, and you’ll be able to enjoy the end result of your hard work for years to come.

Following are some pointers about how to build a raised garden, with your kids’ help.

Roles for everyone

If you have little ones that are too young to be handling a hammer, you can ask them to help you with the design elements instead. Using a large piece of poster board, sketch an outline of a rectangular raised garden bed. Ask kids to help you design the layout. They can draw plants and flowers, and use colors they’d like to see in the garden.
While power drills, sanders and specialized tool sets are best left to adults to handle, children can help you mark-off the area for the flower bed. Here’s how:
1.     After you determine where you want the garden to be, measure from your fence or garage two points that will serve as two corners of the garden.
2.     Have kids push a small garden stake into the ground at each point (if using wood, make sure they wear garden gloves). Then they can add two more stakes to make the other two corners.
3.     Give kids a ball of string and ask them to string it around each stake, to make sure the stakes form a perfect rectangle.
Older kids can help with this by using a T-square or tape measure to make a perfect rectangle (as they help you, they’re learning about geometry, too).

Simple is best

If this is the first big project you've tackled as a family, keep the design simple — you can try something more elaborate at some point in the future.
One nice feature of raised gardens is that you don’t have to struggle with removing grass. Here’s how to prepare the foundation:
1.     Lay plastic sheeting on the ground that overlaps the boundaries of where your garden will be; secure it so it doesn't blow away before you add the next layer.
2.     Cover the plastic with 1-2 inches of newspaper, having a helper lightly spray the newspaper with water as you lay it, to keep it in place.
You can build the frame for your garden out of fence boards, rather than use expensive lumber. Place the frame on top of the plastic sheeting, then trim off the excess plastic.

Fill ‘er up!

Use a soil calculator to determine how much topsoil, compost and growing mix you’ll need in order to fill the flower bed. Kids can use buckets to help you add the right mixture of soils to the area.
Show kids how to put plants in the ground — it may be too delicate of a procedure for little hands, but they can watch you and learn.
Teach them how to care for plants, and you can tend to your garden as a family!

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