summertime-062 fresh-flowers

I know, it’s already November, and here I am talking about gardening. But for real, it’s 70 degrees outside and so I’m just going to pop this little flower post in here before it turns into winter, probably, tomorrow.

So! Our back yard. Hudson holds his thumb and pointer finger an inch apart, put them up to his eye and squints, then says, “Our back yard is DIS LITTLE.” It’s kind of true. About the size of a postage stamp. The kids play kick ball in the back yard and have to make sure they don’t kick each other every time they kick the ball. Sort of kidding, but not really.

A small outdoor space is one of the biggest challenges for us… and we have four kids. SO! You can only imagine the energy levels around here. I can’t even say, “Go run around the house five times!!!” like I would in Georgia, because our house is attached to the house next door. If they run around the backyard five times it would take 30 seconds and they’d get super duper dizzy. hashtag first world problems

// watering my container gardening pots, to bring color and cozy // little-pots small-container-gardening

Part of me feels silly even talking about small spaces, because in a broad sense, our house is bigger than 99% of the world’s houses. Even at 1300 square feet. We are so incredibly blessed it’s hard to even comprehend it. I mean, I have a house to live in, a cozy warm house. Many people of the world would at least want a shelter to go into at night. Let’s face it: even those of us in the Western World with “small houses” are incredibly blessed.

So in talking about small spaces, I want to first get to a very basic level, but an extremely fundamental thing, of gratitude. We will always always have someone we can compare ourselves too. Small house people compare themselves to big house people. Big house people compare themselves to mansion people. Teeny shack people compare themselves to small house people. Bottom line: there will always be someone who has it nicer than you. Bottom line: get over it. Embrace where you ARE, not just where you wish you’d be. And if you’re in your dream house, then embrace that too! No need to feel guilty, just use it as an opportunity to give and to bless the people around you, even if it’s your family.

It’s a little scary, the things that I might even just think to myself, that comes out of the mouths of my kids.

“I can’t wait until we have a bigger house, then we can have company more often.”
“If we’d just have a bigger house, then we wouldn’t get bored so quickly.”
“Everyone else seems to have a bigger house than we do.”

It’s scary, I’m telling you. They’re like little mind readers. Or maybe, soul readers. And the same goes for when I’m focusing on contentment.

“I really like our house, because it doesn’t take much work to take care of it.”
“Our room is really cozy.”
“Having a little house is fun, because then you get to go out and do more stuff.” ;)

It’s like a mirror that speaks my inner thoughts. Yikes.


Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, backyard spaces. Gardening and flowers, that’s right.

For me, the benefit of having a small outdoor space is that we can mow, weedeat, and pull weeds all in the time-consuming space of 15 minutes. No joke.

The challenge is to be creative, to bring beauty into something that has to be fully functional. We ain’t got time for just pretties, y’all. But goodness, I do love my pretties.

My husband is also an avid gardener. Avid, meaning, he loves it. Even if it’s just 15 square feet that he’s got. Bless. So he planted tomatoes, lettuce, peppers, watermelon, as well as basil, cilantro, and another herb. I think. [Apparently I never used it because I can’t remember what it was. Oops. hashtag next year goals ] The tomatoes and peppers kept us supplied all summer and we’re still eating them!

// gumdrop tomatoes – perfect for kid snacks //


But when kids have a part of something, it helps them own it and take pride in their hard work, rather than just see something that we do and they benefit from.

This year Zoe and Olivia each planted a little pack of zinnias in front of the vegetable garden, and it was such fun to watch them grow! We were envisioning a cute little row, maybe 12 inches high, full of sweet little flowers. What we didn’t know is that they would grow up to 5 feet tall, covering the path in front of it, hiding all the lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, and any other veggie growing behind it. Oops. But it brought such beauty to our little back yard, and we had fresh-cut zinnias all summer long! I counted at least 15 different shades of colors in that little space, it was amazing! And I didn’t know that zinnias could be so diverse, and so amazingly beautiful! They quickly became a favorite, and the girls loved cutting fresh bouquets and taking them to friends throughout the summer.

  small-space-fresh-flowers flower-beauty little-zinnia-girl cutting-flowers

An extra sweet thing about the zinnias too… After we planted them, and before they were fully grown, Ben’s youngest sister passed away at 18 years of age. In the midst of the sadness and loss with that, we remembered that Bekah’s favorite flowers were zinnias. And so as we loved our fresh flowers this summer, we also thought of Bekah and were constantly reminded of her beautiful life. That was just an extra-special touch from God.

fresh-cut-flowers olivia-and-jack
So if your space is small, if you don’t want to spent a lot of money, or if you just don’t have room for many things, then plant zinnias. :) Add a few tomato and pepper plants, and you’ll have yourself a darling little garden.

We also did a deck renovation which I might show another time, because all of us love to be outdoors – especially in a region where you can practically live outside all summer the weather is so beautiful. It’s not big either, or perfect, but it is wonderful and provides us with a quiet outdoor retreat. Essential when you live in the city. :)

I’d love to hear from my other small-space friends too! What are some of your favorite plants, shrubs, and flowers for small spaces? Or an essential outdoor item for you?

Happy Monday, my friends!

7 thoughts on “Little House Series: Gardening for Kids

  1. logan wilhelm

    I enjoyed your post, very sweet. Think that sometimes to start small and make that beautiful is a good lesson in responsibility. I try for too big sometimes and it gets away from me…getting older and can’t do all anymore?! I love to garden too, Can’t wait to see your deck post. Have a wonderful day!

  2. Wanda

    It’s all in our perspective, right?! I used to say I have a love/hate relationship with our 111 year old farmhouse, but now I just say I love it. Yes, it has a lot of quirks, and there are a lot of projects to do, but mostly it’s when I compare myself to others that I feel grumbly about it. In comparison to much of the world, we are so incredibly rich. We truly have everything we need. I love the beauty and contentment that shines through here on your little space on the web.

  3. Breana

    How beautiful! You are an inspiring homemaker, Clarita!
    An essential small space outdoor item would have to be a swing. When we moved from 5 1/4 acres in the country to just 1/4 an acre in a subdivision, the patio swing in the backyard was my necessary place to drink coffee, do Bible study, and just ‘be’. It taught me a lot about gratitude, and attempting to be content with a little, though I’m a country girl through and through!

  4. Ervina

    I love your perspective on this. I watch you wrestle with it and know that your heart is to be content and grateful, and I see that happening. Your house may be tiny and bursting at the seams but it is also bursting with creativity and beauty. And your blog’s new look is so, so pretty!

  5. Gretchen

    We downsized our family of 5 from a 1600 sq ft house to an 800 sq ft apartment 15 months ago…and can relate to so much of what you say! We don’t have as much as a balcony, and I so miss sending the children out to play and hanging out the wash. I’ve noticed our neighbors have some herbs in their windowsill, though, so perhaps we should try that, too. God is good, and there are so many benefits to living simpler.

  6. Carol

    Clarita, I first found your blog when you were in the Cottage. I loved how your faith and the love for your family shines through in every post. Your blog has a very soothing, calm peace about it and I think that is what drew me in. Thank you for allowing us brief glimpses into your life and for always striving to be the inspirational woman that God has called you to be.

  7. crystal

    Clarita! I can’t tell you how excited I am about this Little House series! I also live in a little 1300-ish square feet city house and have 4 littles! Although from your pictures,my back yard might be a smidgen bigger :) Essential outdoor items? Washline. even though it is only long enough to hold about 2 loads of laundry. line-dried sheets…need I say more? swing. we are so blessed to have a large tree in our yard and the kids spend so much time on the tire swing! garden. it’s itty-bitty but big enough for me to get my gardening fix and a few fresh veggies. spring and fall when nothing is planted,they love to dig and play mud-kitchen in the dirt. I usually put herbs in pots and save my garden space for bigger plants,although this year I successfully grew green beans in a large tub *happy dance*! I will be eagerly watching for new posts :) Can’t wait to get more ideas and inspiration on how to use every inch! Blessings!

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