Yard Work and Chores for Kids

Updated June 17, 2016
Five children, from youngest to oldest going left to right, all with garden tools
If you start them early, your kids might develop a lifelong love of lawn care and gardening. (Photo by Brandon Smith)

Learn more about making yard work fun for kids, and keep them busy and outside all summer and fall.

Outdoor activities for kids go a long way in preventing couch potato vegetation during summer vacation. If you start your child on garden- and yard-based house chores early, and make it fun, they might like it and even profit from it in the long run.

"I think it's very important because it allows them an opportunity to find out if they'll enjoy outdoor lawn and garden activities," says TJ Houghtalen of Green Vista Landscaping in Noblesville, Indiana. "They might want to pursue it as a part-time job when they get older, or maybe as a career at some point."

Here’s an age-appropriate chores schedule for your little yard worker:

Video: Age-Appropriate Gardening for Kids

Preschool years

Enjoyment is the primary goal, as you introduce your child to simple growing and lawn care concepts. They’ll learn from your use of garden tools for responsible future use.

Possible tasks:

• Plant quick-growing vegetable garden crops like lettuce, spinach, bush beans and peas.

• Water garden with kid-sized watering can, pull weeds in garden and harvest crops.

Plant a tree that you can watch grow over the years.

• Find and collect caterpillars and snails.

Kindergarten through sixth grade

Now you can expand the scope of your child’s horticultural skills, with plants that require more time to grow and simple and safe yard tools.

Possible new tasks:

• Select more vegetables, herbs and annual flowers, water with garden hose.

• Transfer young flower seedlings to bigger pots.

• Make indoor flower arrangements; mix salads with harvested vegetables.

• Pick up sticks and rake leaves in the fall; offer to do neighbors’ yards for cash.

• In later years, hoe garden weeds and use clippers for shrub trimming.

Seventh grade through high school

In addition to new lawn and garden ideas, this is a time when your child can make some real money. Once they’re comfortable with a lawn mower, the sky’s the limit. A 15-year old in Atlanta once raked in $49,000 in a single year with his lawn service.

"I got into the business when I was 16 or 17, but I started out mowing my grandparents' lawn when I was 13," Houghtalen says. "I think 12 or 13 is a good time to start mowing, from a safety standpoint and being strong enough to manuver it."

Possible new tasks:

• Start with push mower in sixth grade and work up to riding mower in early-teens; maintain mower and properly prepare for winter.

• Use gas-powered or electric weed eater and lawn edger, prune trees.

Create a compost bin for fruit and vegetable scraps, or buy a see-through version for better visuals; use compost on garden soil.

Got tips for keeping kids busy in the garden? Tell us about them in the comments below!