Upcycle a Sandbox Into a Kid-Friendly Garden

Put that old sandbox to good use by repurposing it into a fun, kid-friendly garden chock-full of healthy fruits and veggies.

Photo By: Flynnside Out Productions

Photo By: Flynnside Out Productions

Photo By: Flynnside Out Productions

Photo By: Flynnside Out Productions

Photo By: Flynnside Out Productions

Photo By: Flynnside Out Productions

Photo By: Flynnside Out Productions

Photo By: Flynnside Out Productions

Photo By: Flynnside Out Productions

Photo By: Flynnside Out Productions

Photo By: Flynnside Out Productions

Upcycled Sandbox Garden

They may have outgrown their sandbox, but you can still reap the benefits of its perfect size and shape. Here's what you'll need: BPA-free sandbox, pavers (optional), gravel, weed barrier fabric (cut to fit interior of sandbox), potting soil, soil supplements (optional), assorted edible starter plants with shallow root systems, utility knife, drill and 5/8-inch bit, garden trowel, garden gloves, kid-sized garden tools

Prep the Location

Determine the location of your new garden based on sunlight. Make sure it has enough sun or shade for the plants you intend to grow. Partial shade is usually best for many container-friendly edibles. Move the emptied sandbox into place, then layer a few pavers underneath the box to elevate it and ensure optimum drainage.

Ensure Good Drainage

Good drainage keeps plants healthier and staves off root rot. Once you've added pavers and adjusted them so the bottom of the sandbox is level, add several drainage holes using a drill and large bit. Make a hole every 6-8 inches in the bottom of the sandbox.

Add Weed Barrier

Cut weed barrier fabric to size and lay down in the sandbox so the bottom and sides are covered. This will help create a barrier and discourage any weeds attempting to make their way into the garden through the drainage holes.

Add Gravel

Spread a 2-inch layer of gravel along the bottom of the sandbox, directly on top of the weed barrier.

Add High-Quality Soil

Premium soil is key to the success of your garden, so make sure it's suited to your plants and climate. Consider mixing in a supplement or soil additive that's specifically suited to your plants.

Select Your Plants

When choosing plants for your garden, keep in mind that deeply rooting fruits, vegetables and flowers will not do well in a shallow container. Select plants with relatively shallow root systems. Also, consider planting a mix of fruits, veggies and herbs with a variety of scents and textures so kids will enjoy exploring each plant by touch and smell. Our favorites are beans, peas, chives, coriander, mint, basil, poppies, lettuce, garlic, onions and strawberries. Be sure to check with your state's Extension office for more specific advice on gardening in your area.

Plant Thoughtfully

Get your kids in on the planting process so they'll be fully invested. Make sure to plant companion plants together. Strawberries like beans, lettuce, onions and thyme, while lettuce, like arugula, prefers beans and mint. Try to follow along with spacing as dictated on the plants' tags.

Add ID Tags

Don't forget to make colorful name tags with your kids to keep track of the brand-new baby plants.

Kid-Sized Everything

Keep aprons, tools and garden stools kid-sized to encourage hours of play that's fun and parent-friendly, too.

Create a Garden Journal

Part of the fun of having a garden is tracking the growth of each plant. Kids can make notes of each harvest and jot down tips for future plantings. Don't forget to take before-and after-photos, too.