Vancouver Gardening with Kids

Vancouver Gardening with Kids - SavvyMom

It’s that time of year when Vancouver gardening takes over. Is this the year? Is this the year you successfully plant a beautiful garden that will bring you and your neighbours colour and joy for months to come. And then life will interfere. And sure, maybe you’ll plant a few things, but the yard never quite comes together like you imagine it could, does it?

But this year? This year will be different. Because this year you’re putting your kids to work in the garden. Read on for some tips on how to incorporate your kids into your gardening dreams and a quick look at five plants that almost anyone in Vancouver and the Lower Mainland can grow outside.

Tips for Vancouver Gardening with Kids

Get Some Inspiration

A walk around your neighbourhood is an easy way to collect some gardening inspo. Bring your phone and use an app such as Google Lens to identify plants that catch your or your child’s eye. Take things up a notch and stop by VanDusen Botanical Garden, at 5151 Oak Street. Here your family can enjoy this 55-acre oasis in the heart of Vancouver with over 7,500 plant species and varieties from around the world. While the size is probably 100 times the size of any Vancouverite’s yard space you’re sure to leave with a least a couple of actionable ideas. Explore the hedge maze with the kids and pack a picnic to enjoy on a beautiful day with your family

Or head over to Stanley Park to explore their famous gardens. The Rose Garden is a perennial (Ed. note: sorry) favourite, featuring 3,500 rose bushes with paths sheltered by arbours wrapped with climbing roses and clematis. Then stroll through the Ted and Mary Greig Rhododendron Garden, the Shakespeare Garden, and the Stanley Park Rock Garden for ideas for your own gardens and also for the pure enjoyment of colour and scents of the thousands of blooms.

For something a little less traditional, head to the landmark Dr. Sun Yat-Sen garden, an oasis of calm located downtown and a place to appreciate Chinese art and culture. This is the first garden in 15th century Ming Dynasty style outside of China, originally built for the Expo 86 world showcase. Gain inspiration from the over one-half acre of winding paths, pavillions, bridges, and waterfialls, connected to koi-filled ponds. The garden is open to the public, with tickets available online or in person.

Go Shopping-

Once the kids and you have a sense of the vibe you want your garden to give off, it’s time to buy some plants and other supplies. Depending on your kids’ age you can really get them involved in this process and even make it a little educational. For example, have that kid who’s still perfecting their printing skills write down the shopping list, which you’ll dictate. Then it’s off to the greenhouse. While you can hit up the big box stores, it’s always nice to support local small businesses. A few of the top non-chain greenhouses for Vancouver gardening include Hunter’s Garden Centre at 2560 West Broadway, Gardenworks (several locations including North Shore), Maple Leaf Garden Centre in West Vancouver at 2558 Haywood Avenue and North Vancouver at 1343 Lynn Valley Road, and Phoenix Perennials 3380 No. 6 Road, in Richmond.

Speaking of which plants to select, scroll down to the bottom of this article and read our roundup of five mostly native BC perennials that almost always thrive here. But make sure to also include your kids in the selection process; having them pick out some plants makes it more likely that they’ll want to care for them! Besides plants and the usual materials, you may also want to get your kids some gardening gloves. Those might seem like an unnecessary item but take a moment and picture all that dirt and compost getting pushed up and under your kids’ nails Do you want to clean that out? No. Get the gloves.

Toronto Gardening with Kids Growing Strawberries - SavvyMom

Consider Berries and Veggies

Do your kids devour berries by the basket? Then give your wallet a break by getting your kids to grow their own berries. Strawberry plants are now sold in planters and hanging baskets, making them something you can even grow on a balcony. And with the right care, can produce quite the bounty. Another prolific berry plant is the raspberry. Just make sure you have enough room for these hardy but spacious bushes, which will require some pruning (but those sweet berries are worth
the work). A little easier to maintain are highbush blueberries. Growing these are also a lesson in patience, as they don’t produce fruit in their first year. Growing your own vegetables may spark your kids’ interest in eating them. Tomatoes (yes, these technically aren’t vegetables, but you know what I mean) are relatively easy to grow so long as you have a sunny spot and watching them ripen is surprisingly satisfactory. And many greenhouses sell kid-friendly vegetables such as peppers and cucumbers that are already established in a planter, increasing the odds you’ll end up with something you can actually eat.

Give Them Realistic Tasks

Incorporate gardening into your kids’ chore routine by agreeing on some simple and regular tasks. For example, get them in the habit of doing daily moisture checks on the soil and then, depending on their maturity level and your comfort level, put them in charge of keeping your garden appropriately watered. Deadheading flowers is another task that most kids can easily tackle, and even toddlers can help you keep an eye out for tomatoes that are ready for harvesting (though letting them actually pick your produce may lead to few casualties). If your kids are a little older, weeding can also be a great job for them to tackle; just be very clear about what should be pulled and what should be left alone.

Document the Journey

If your kids are elementary school age or older, have them document their gardening adventures. Maybe this means keeping a journal, maybe it means creating some drawings, maybe it means taking some photos on your phone and posting them to your Instagram account. Chat with your kids and decide on a method that best lets them express their creativity and nurture their talents, alongside their plants.

Five Great Flowering Plants for Vancouver Gardening

Plant hardiness zones are a system created to help gardeners ensure that they are picking plants that have a reasonable chance of actually flourishing outdoors. It breaks North America into different numbered zones and ideally, you only plant plants rated for your zone. Vancouver and area are mostly zone 8b, though this can vary a bit. Check out this Natural
Resources Canada guide to find your area’s exact zone.

But only selecting plants appropriate for your zone is just the first step in finding the right greenery for your yard. You also need to consider shade and sun direction, how much attention you can give your garden, wildlife risks, and more. Yeah, it’s a lot. So I’ve rounded up five zone seven friendly plants that are relatively low maintenance, while also being pretty.

Red Flowering Currant:

If you have a sunny patch that could use a shot of color, Red Flowering Currant is a great pick. This native shrub bursts into vibrant clusters of red or pink flowers that look like something out of a Dr. Seuss book. Blooming in early spring, the blossoms can last for weeks, adding a splash of color when most other plants are still waking up. As its name suggests, this plant is a favorite among hummingbirds and other pollinators. Additionally, it’s relatively deer-resistant, making it a smart option if you have these furry creatures in your neighborhood. Red Flowering Currant is beautiful and low maintenance.

Nootka Rose:

Mind the prickles and enjoy Nootka Rose’s beautiful pink flowers from late spring to early summer. It’s an excellent choice for creating wildlife-friendly spaces, attracting bees, butterflies, and birds. Nootka Rose is low-maintenance, requiring minimal watering once established, and is resistant to most pests and diseases. To plant, choose a sunny spot with well-drained soil and space plants about 3-4 feet apart. Its vibrant flowers and ecological benefits make it perfect for a family garden.

Pacific Bleeding Heart:

Pacific Bleeding Heart’s delicate, heart-shaped pink flowers bloom in spring and early summer. This native perennial prefers shady, moist environments so it’s ideal for woodland gardens or shaded borders. It attracts pollinators like bees and hummingbirds.


Woadwaxen’s vibrant yellow blooms and evergreen foliage addd year-round interest. This hardy shrub prefers sunny locations with well-drained soil, so it’s perfect for rock gardens, slopes, or borders. Woadwaxen requires minimal maintenance, it’s drought-tolerant once established, and supports pollinators like bees and butterflies. Woadwaxen’s bright flowers and easy care make it a delightful addition to a Vancouver family garden.


Yes, we’re only supposed to plant native flowers but we’re cheating here and including petunias because they are so colourful, so cheap, and so hardy. They also bloom for months and are one of the best options for flower boxes. Technically, petunias are perennials but they generally won’t survive our winters so you will have to buy these each season. But with all the cool colours and patterns out there, this is a pretty easy task to take on.


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