How to Create a Children's Garden or Sensory Garden!

How to Create a Children's Garden or Sensory Garden!

children's garden header

Get your kids outside more and instill a love of nature by creating their own spot in your landscape! Bright colors, fun smells, sound and motion, plus touchable plants are everything you need to make them a complete sensory experience!

Plant flowers around their sandbox, behind a swing set, around a kiddie pool, or create their own little area in your yard. Let your children, of course, help you pick out their favorites! 

Benefits kids in garden

Kids that spend more time outdoors learn to appreciate nature and respect living things, and are often healthier, and have fewer allergies and asthma. Inspire their creativity, STEM learning, problem-solving skills and their desire to learn and discover that lasts for a lifetime! 

They can enjoy a place to be active and relax, relieving tension and anxiety. You’ll notice better attention spans and focus and reduced tension, fidgeting and restlessness!

This doesn’t even start talking about the many health benefits they gain physically! Fresh air, sunshine and physical activity galore!

Kids Garden Ideas and Additions other kids in garden

Here are some nifty additions for your children’s garden to spark imagination and stimulate curiosity! 

Create a Teepee or Reading nook

Plant a ring of sunflower seeds or plants, leaving a gap where the entrance will be. Once they’ve reached a certain height, gently tie the tops together to form the top of the tent. Snip off any interior leaves and lay down straw, sand or outdoor turf for your kids to relax in the shade!

This can also be done with other tall-growing plants or climbing Vines, pole beans or flowering plants. To train the vines, secure twine or cordage in the circle and secure them to an overhead hook, several feet above for the vines to climb. Planting seeds or plants at the base of each cord. Install poles that form the teepee, secured at the top, and spread netting, chicken wire or mesh over the poles to give the vines something to climb on.

Create Tunnels

Use flowering vines or any type of fruiting or leafy vining vegetable and use chicken wire or hoops to create tunnels for kids to crawl through or walk through, depending on how much height you can achieve. Occasionally, go through yourself to remove debris and leaves growing inside, and the occasional spiderweb.

Some great plants to use for Teepees or Tunnels clematis

Try Clematis, Passionflower, Trumpet vines, Wisteria, Honeysuckle, and annuals like Sweet Pea flowers or Morning Glory.

Vegetable vines for tunnels grape vines

Easy to grow Pole Beans or edible Peas, Kiwi vines, Grape vines, Cucumbers, and Squashes (summer or winter squashes).

Sensory Garden Additions

Planting a Sensory garden that will stimulate all 5 senses and benefit the young and old alike!

Fun to Touch

Whether it's easy-care Daisies for plucking petals. Snapdragons that you can make the 'mouths' open and close by pinching the base of the flower. Play with Jewelweed/Touch-me-Nots or Spider flowers that have seed pods that explode when touched, these are kid-friendly flowers that always beckon for touch!

Grid Fun to Touch

Sight - Visually Stimulating

Bright colors and big blooms call attention best. Choose bright yellows, reds, hot pinks, orange and purple. 

  • Oriental & Asiatic Lilies, Agapanthus, Nerine lily
  • Sunflowers
  • Tall Delphinium or Hollyhock
  • Rainbow Fizz™ Spirea
  • Big leaves - Banana tree, Elephant Ears, Caladium, Coleus, Coral bells, & Hosta
  • Iris
  • Hydrangea - touchable pompoms!
  • Hibiscus blooms


Fun to Smell - Tickle the Nose

  • Marigolds are spicy and tickle the nose, they’re also easy to grow!
  • Herbs of all kinds!
  • Spring bulbs like Hyacinth and Tulips
  • Roses
  • Peony
  • Stinky Dutchmans Pipe
  • Garlic & Onions - Both flowering ornamental and herbal varieties

fun to smell

Sound - Treat for the Ears

Nigella (Love-in-a-Mist) rattling seedpods

  • False Indigo - Natural maracas
  • Money Plant - a ‘weed’ with unique flat, clear seed pods!
  • Dried Gourds - become rattles
  • Tall ornamental grasses rattle in the breeze
  • Windchimes, Flags, Pinwheels & Garden spinners
  • Bamboo - rustling sounds
  • Water features or fountains

Sound treat for ears

Taste - Herb and Vegetable Gardens

Food is always a great motivator and an easy, inexpensive way to get kids involved with the outdoor world! You don’t need a huge area to start, a simple raised bed, large container or planter, or corner of the yard is perfect for them to plant seeds and watch them grow!

There’s nothing that creates core memories for your child than gathering plump berries and eating fresh fruit from the bush or sampling a fresh carrot they pulled out of the ground themselves!

  • Fast-growing Radish, Lettuce, Peas, etc…
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Zucchini & Cucumbers
  • Pumpkins & Gourds
  • Strawberries
  • Dwarf fruit trees: Romeo & Juliet Cherry, Bonfire Peach, etc.
  • Dwarf Blueberries, Baby Cakes Thornless Blackberry & Raspberry Shortcake Bush
  • Herbs of all kinds!


Kid-Friendly Favorites


Unique blooms and textures that spark the imagination and curiosity, plus they’re generally allergy-free for little hands to pick without worry. As always, monitor your child at all times for safety!

  • Perennials: Hens-n-Chicks, Ferns, Columbines, Daisy family, Liatris
  • Ornamental Grasses
  • Barrenwort
  • Kangaroo Paw
  • Chamomile, Tansy & Herbs
  • Buttonbush
  • Annuals - Pansy, Petunia, Cleome Spider flower, Celosia, Zinnia, Snapdragon


Plants With Cool & Unique Seed Pods

After the blooms are done, you get unique sensory seed pods in the fall! Kids love to play with these and help spread seeds. In fall, kids love to collect seeds and help you disperse them for next year!

  • Money plant
  • Blackberry Lily
  • Lantern flower
  • Blanket flower
  • False Indigo - Natures maracas! 
  • Milkweed pods
  • Columbine seed pods
  • Allium & Garlic - Both ornamental and the culinary herb
  • Dill, Fennel & Queen Anne's Lace

Plants with cool and unique seed pods

Butterfly Gardens & Beneficial Insects & Lightning Bugs

Kids love butterflies, ladybugs and watching pollinators buzz from bloom to bloom! This introduction to how pollination works, and how plants and insects live in harmony with their environment. Catch fireflies in jarsYou can actually buy Butterfly eggs or larvae and watch them grow and munch on the leaves and turn into cocoons and hatch.

Plants like Salvias, Bee Balm, Coneflower, Coreopsis, Milkweed, Butterfly Plants & Buddleias are prime butterfly plants. Grab a butterfly net and a terrarium or jar for kids to watch their catches, before letting them free after a few minutes of observation.

Whimsical Flowers to Spark Imagination

These are unique garden plants that are kids’ favorites!

  • Red Hot Poker plants & Liatris
  • Foxglove or Hollyhock
  • Allums & Flowering Garlic
  • Milkweed & Butterfly plants
  • Ornamental grasses, Bunny Grass and Northern Sea Oats
  • Agapanthus, Nerine Lily, Calla, Tiger & Oriental Lily
  • Hibiscus Blooms
  • Bleeding Hearts
  • Mimosa Tree flowers
  • Balloon flower & Campanula
  • Clematis - even their seed pods are like Dr. Seuss made them

Whimsical flowers

Great Things to Include:

Add these great learning and wildlife-attracting decorations to expand learning!

  • Fairy doors & Fairy houses, Frog & Bat houses, Birdfeeders & houses & Birdbaths
  • Bee Hotel & Bee watering station
  • Garden statues & scarecrows
  • Paths/pavers for tic-tac-toe & hopscotch, create a maze & sidewalk chalk areas
  • Bubble station and finger painting station
  • Sticks and rocks in various lengths and sizes for building
  • Set up a blanket for cloud gazing/Telescope for stargazing 
  • A book for pressing flowers and leaves for crafts. Great rainy day fun!
  • Supply a magnifying glass or binoculars to look at the world around them
  • Listening Station - listen to the crickets, locusts, cicada, birds and bees!
  • Sandbox or Water Station - Include recycled containers, funnels and utensils for play

Things to include

You can easily create a place where kids can run around with fist fulls of flowers and make wishes on dandelion puffs. Don’t forget the fun of a good old-fashioned mud puddle or pile of fall leaves can contribute to a child's exploratory nature! Don’t worry about getting dirty! Kids wash! And soil has mood-boosting benefits!

Go Big or Keep it Small! kids having fun in garden

Even a porch or patio mixed container garden will be enough to start - a Children's garden doesn't have to take up the yard! Start small with a window box or planter, or a patch along the side yard. You and your kids will enjoy exploring the wonders of nature and inspiring your children's investment in the world of life and learning!

Head over to today to find what inspires them the most and we’ll help you find the right plants for your climate and sun needs! Hands-on learning and expanding the inquisitive minds of a child is easy with the help of Nature Hills!

Happy Planting!

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