We live in a world that is increasingly dominated by technology. Our devices have, in so many ways, made our lives quicker, easier and even in some cases, safer.
But too much screen time can have a negative impact on our mental and physical health – think poor sleep habits, anxiety and low self-esteem.
Putting down devices and being around nature is one of the best ways for any of us to offset our global technology addiction – and a brilliant thing to foster in our children.
The benefits of gardening for children are many. Aside from all the fresh air, it not only teaches children where food and flowers come from but also growing plants instils a sense of responsibility – they must care for their garden if they want it to flourish.
Children have a sensory wonderland at their fingertips – the smells, the textures, the tastes, the colours and even the sounds outside are abundant.
Gardening is also a masterclass in patience, even for adults. But the reward for all the waiting is of course the first tiny shoot coming through, evidence that hard work is paying off.
Children are also encouraged to get their hands dirty when gardening. This mightn’t be great for any parents’ laundry schedule but it is so important for a child’s wellbeing.
Not only does it boost the immune system, thanks to the microbes in the soil, but it also helps with self-esteem – particularly when raising girls, who have for too long been encouraged to be clean and pretty, not wild and adventurous.
Gardening kits for children can range from sets of tools for digging, raking and potting, or collections of seeds and instructions on planting. Many feature watering cans and sometimes even wheelbarrows.
In this round-up we’ve included a variety of options, including ideas and sets for families with limited or no outdoor space. We’ve also tried to be mindful of budgets – two of these kits are only £5.
You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.
The best gardening kits for children 2021:
Best overall: Gardening Set, £18, Oskarandcatie.co.uk
Best for easy wins: Taylors Bulbs grow your own strawberry kit, £5, Dunelm.com
Best for a long term project: The plant a tree kit, £19.50, Thedenkitco.com
Best for learning about different plants: The Prickle Parlour handmade kids gardening seed kit, £10.20, Amazon.co.uk
Best for growing your own grub: Moulin Roty gardener’s case, £50, Kidly.co.uk
Best for small budgets: Briers garden tools set, £5, Dunelm.com
Best for imitating grown ups: Little Tikes growing garden wheelbarrow and shovel, £29.99, Littletikes.co.uk
Best for protecting little gardener’s hands: Janod little gardener playset, £27.99, Yesbebe.co.uk
Best for indoor gardening: I’m A Genius Science botanical laboratory, £17.99, Toysandbears.com
Oskar and Catie personalised gardening set
These tools – a watering can, a trowel, a fork and a rake – are all neatly contained within a small but heavily pocketed bright canvas bag. It’s easy to carry and lightweight. The material is tough and durable so it can withstand the elements and the usual wear and tear of a busy garden. Each of the tools is well made and easy for little hands to handle.
That this set can be personalised is a major coup – what kid doesn’t like something that is made especially for them? This is really good value for money, too. Don’t be surprised if this doubles up as a handbag too: our tester takes hers to the supermarket.
Buy now £18.00, Oskarandcatie.co.uk
Taylors Bulbs grow your own strawberry kit
Best for: Easy wins
Strawberries are one of the most joyful plants – beautiful to look at and yielding delicious fruit to boot. Not only this but they grow like weeds. All of this makes them an easy and satisfying plant for children to take care of. This set is simple – a pretty painted metal pot, a packet of seeds and some compost. All you need is water and a little sunshine. The prep part is pretty pleasing in that it involves the compost pellet expanding with water – a moment of high excitement, we guarantee. This is an absolute bargain and will bring so much pleasure.
Buy now £5.00, Dunelm.com
The Den Kit Company plant a tree kit
Best: Long term project
Mother Nature can present a wealth of questions in the minds of curious young people. But “where do trees come from?” can now be answered practically with an activity that will never be forgotten.
This kit is contained within the most gorgeous natural hessian bag and includes all the components needed to plant a tree – with the exception of the tree seed your little one plans to grow (a winged-seed, berry or nut are all viable options). There’s a beautifully made Kent & Stow trowel designed for children’s small hands as well as two compostable planters for your seeds.
But perhaps the loveliest thing – certainly our four-year-old tester thought so – was the laminated reference guide to seeds and trees complete with gorgeous illustrations. This really is one of the best educational tools – especially as children don’t know they’re learning.
Buy now £19.50, Thedenkitco.com
The Prickle Parlour kids gardening seed kit
Best for: Learning about different plants
This box contains seeds for four different hardy plants: sunflowers, tomatoes, rocket and pak choi. It also contains a couple of compost discs, two grow bags and instructions on how to turn seeds into a garden! You will need to have your own pots but thankfully these aren’t hard to access. There are also other guides on things to make and do in the garden or park while you’re waiting for your seedlings to sprout! These proved a hit with our four-year-old tester who has now made no fewer than 11 DIY flower bunnies.
What’s great about this is that it comes in flat packaging, perfect for posting through letterboxes. They are also great for children with limited outdoor space as all of the seeds can be planted in pots and kept on windowsills or balconies.
Buy now £10.20, Amazon.co.uk
Moulin Roty gardener’s case
Best for: Growing your own grub
This kit is unspeakably chic – and parents will inevitably want one for themselves. The reality that this beautiful case is probably going to end up scuffed and muddy will be upsetting – but what use are gardening tools if they never touch mud?
Inside you’ll find a rake, spade, watering can, three terracotta pots as well as carrot seeds, radish seeds and cherry tomato seeds. The promise of actual food growing from these tiny seeds was overwhelming to our testers who were aged between two and four and parents should be prepared to hear “where are the carrots?” on repeat from literally immediately after watering the buried seed for the first time. This is a lovely way to introduce children to growing their own produce – and we were delighted by how tasteful the design of both case and contents is.
Buy now £50.00, Kidly.co.uk
Briers garden tools set
Best for: Small budgets
This simple set of three essential tools – a spade, a fork and a rake with wooden handles with rope loops to hand them up – is the ideal starter pack for little gardeners. Despite the low price point, these are beautifully made and incredibly sturdy – they’re not toys. We loved the colours and think this is an absolute bargain.
Buy now £5.00, Dunelm.com
Little Tikes growing garden wheelbarrow and shovel
Best for: Imitating grown-ups
We defy anyone to find a child who isn’t immediately drawn to a wheelbarrow – there’s something so enticing about the structure. Trouble is, small children often have a job reaching the handles let alone pushing one. That’s where this mini barrow comes in. It is perfect for children aged between two and about six and really easy to push. Our four-year-old gardener loved the little worm illustration on the inside.
You will have to put it all together but don’t panic, it’s idiot-proof and you don’t need any tools. We got ours from packaging to full working order in around ten minutes. The long-handled trowel was actually really effective and will stand up to hardy garden tasks like weeding as well as planting. We found the beauty of this set was that children can echo what a parent is doing in the garden – but on a smaller scale.
Buy now £29.99, Littletikes.co.uk
Janod little gardener playset
Best for: Protecting little gardener’s hands
This is an extremely sweet set – our two-year-old tester fell instantly in love with the soft mint palette of the tools as well as the cute hedgehog motif found on the watering can and the gloves. The cotton gloves are perhaps the biggest hit – and they’ve even been worn on walks where gardening hasn’t featured and beaming sunlight has. The rake and spade are both made from steel and wood – and are solid, hardy tools that will withstand plenty of digging.
Buy now £27.99, Yesbebe.co.uk
I’m A Genius Science botanical laboratory
Best for: Indoor gardening
There is no reason why children who don’t have a garden shouldn’t experience the joy of planting seeds and watching them grow. This botanical laboratory is designed to be looked after inside (ideally on a windowsill) and is a great way for beginner gardeners to practise thanks to its small scale.
Be warned – this takes a while to set up and it’s pretty fiddly. But for families who revel in a group project with a sense of challenge, this is sure to be a hit. There’s plenty of satisfaction to be found in simply building the greenhouse which has its own rather brilliant irrigation system, (don’t worry you don’t have to build that – it’s already integrated into the base).
Four tiny pots are included and two different sets of lettuce seeds. However, little gardeners are encouraged to experiment with different seeds – picked up from supermarkets or garden centres. There is a comprehensive guide to nurturing seeds, plant growing and greenhouses within this set – making it a great shout for older children who have a stronger grasp of science.
Buy now £17.99, Toysandbears.com
The verdict: Gardening kits for kids
The personalised gardening bag by Oskar & Catie ticked so many boxes at a really low price point. It’s cute, practical and durable. However, if you want maximum result for not much elbow grease or money, look no further than Taylors Bulbs, grow your own strawberry kit.
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Make the most of warmer weather with our pick of the best garden games the whole family can enjoy