It’s not uncommon to see the yards of young families falling into disrepair — would you rather spend a quality day with your little ones or rake leaves, pull weeds and perform other back-breaking yard care duties? Most parents would choose the former, even if that means seeing their landscaping slowly succumbing to chaos.
The truth is, this is a false dichotomy. You can have a beautiful yard and happy kids — if you know how to get your kids involved in yard care activities. This guide will help you better manage the various aspects of yard care, to include pool care, lawn care, tree care, gardening and the like, with your kids by your side.
Be a Strong Yard Work Role Model
Your children desperately want to be just like you, and that means they’ll happily emulate the things you are doing. This is called “modeling behavior,” and it is a universal activity that all human children participate in. Studies show that children will pick up bad habits just like they pick up good ones, so it is critical that you strive to be the best role model you can be, even when your kids are young.
Yard work — in truth, any chore — should be something your kids see you doing from a young age. Toddlers and young kids begin to form their ideas of adulthood by watching you; if you shirk your duties and waste time scrolling through social media or watching TV, that’s what kids will expect to do as they get older. However, if they see you making time for outdoor chores, and if you seem to be enjoying working in the yard, your kids will want to pitch in sooner.
Get Your Kids Outside (and Excited!)
When kids are accustomed to spending all their time indoors, the thought of going outside tends to be distasteful — especially if they are being forced outside to work. You should try to make your yard a fun and exciting place for your kids, which means you should do things outside besides mow the lawn and rake leaves.
Fortunately, there are near-unlimited options for games and activities in your backyard. You could install a jungle gym, slide or swing set; you could build a tree house; you could create your own splash pad — or, if you don’t want to make such permanent modifications to your yard, you can invest in outdoor games like cornhole or giant Jenga. When the weather is nice, you should encourage your kids to go outside to play, and you should host a few playdates or even adult parties where you entertain in your yard. Then, your kids will associate positive feelings with being outside, and they’ll likely drag their feet less when completing yard care chores.
Know What Chores Your Kids Can Do
You shouldn’t expect your three-year-old to masterfully wield a lawn mower — but on the other hand, you shouldn’t give your teen a simple job like “watering.” Yard chores should be age-appropriate, which means you will need to adjust them as your kid grows up. Here are a few ideas for chores for different age groups:
- 1 to 3 years old: weeding, picking up toys and sticks
- 3 to 5 years old: potting new plants, watering container plants, starting seeds
- 5 to 10 years old: fertilizing plants (with organic mixes), harvesting fruits and veggies, transplanting bulbs and other plants
- 10 to 13 years old: raking and bagging leaves, mulching, managing compost
- 13 to 18 years old: lawn mowing, using leaf blower, pruning bushes and small trees
As you can see, the tasks for younger kids tend to be less intense and require fewer tools and less strength. In addition to spending fun time outside, this slow accumulation of responsibility will help kids become accustomed to outdoor chores.
Outsource the Worst Tasks to Pros
You might notice that there are quite a few yard care duties that aren’t anywhere on that list. While some of them need to be handled by you, as the adult in the house, but many others can and should be outsourced to professionals. Chores that are dangerous and/or require an abundance of technical knowledge and skill shouldn’t be attempted by you or your kids. For example, lawns can be temperamental, so I tend to hire lawn care near me to deal with tasks like fertilizing, aeration, seeding and lawn pest control. I also get experts for trimming large or tall trees and for big projects, like installing hardscaping or irrigation.
A beautiful yard and a happy family go hand in hand. By treating the outdoors as a priority from the time your kids are young, you can ensure your landscape stays alive and thriving — and your kids do, too.