Play in the Garden

Sarah O'Neil has written a great book, Play in the garden, which is jam-packed with cool projects that will encourage your kids to spend hours outdoors The book has projects for all seasons, easy to follow instructions and bright colourful pictures.

Below are two of our favourte projects for Spring

Medieval -Bird

Medieval Bird Scarer

Keep birds out of your garden with this simple idea that has been used for hundreds of years.

Equipment Needed

1 chopstick

3 large potatoes

6–8 large feathers per potato


2 short bamboo poles

4mm-thick string

Kids: This is quick and easy to make and you will love seeing the bird scarer at work in the garden.

Grown-ups: Give the finished bird scarers a quick check and make any necessary adjustments so they work properly.

How to

  • With the chopstick poke a hole lengthways straight through the centre of the potatoes.
  • Poke large feathers around the middle of the potatoes. If the ends of the feathers are a bit soft, use a toothpick to make holes first.
  • Make sure the feathers are in nice and tight so they won’t fall out in the breeze.
  • Push the bamboo poles firmly and strongly into the ground, one at each end of the area in the garden where you want to keep the birds away.
  • Tie one end of the string to a pole.
  • Thread the potatoes onto the string.
  • Pull the string as tight as you can and tie it to the other pole.
  • Wait for a breeze, then sit back and watch your bird scarer in action.

 Extra Tips

Once the bird scarer has been made, ensure the feathers are in firmly, but haven’t been pushed all the way into the middle, or they will stop the potato from spinning.

Crazy -Carrots -2

Crazy Carrots

Why grow carrots that look exactly like the ones in the store when you can break all the rules and grow crazy carrots.

Equipment Needed

a small space in your garden

several large shovelfuls of compost

a large handful of blood and bone fertiliser

a generous helping of aged manure

several handfuls of pebbles, stones or gravel


carrot seeds

Kids: You can work together with the grown-ups on this project.

Grown-ups: You may need to maintain the carrot bed if you need to, as it takes around 16–20 weeks between sowing and harvesting, and interest may wane.

How to

  • Set aside a small area of garden to grow the crazy carrots.
  • Dig in several large shovelfuls of compost, a large handful of blood and bone fertiliser and a generous helping of aged manure.
  • Add in several handfuls of pebbles, stones or gravel.
  • Mix well and walk all over the carrot patch to firm the soil. (Normally you wouldn’t be allowed to stand on the carrot bed.)
  • Give the soil a good soak with the hose.
  • Sprinkle the carrot seeds all over the prepared bed – the thicker the better – and lightly cover with soil.
  • Keep the patch moist and free of weeds and wait for about 16 weeks.
  • When you pull the carrots out they should have grown in all kinds of crazy shapes!

Book -cover



Extracted with permission from Play in the Garden: Fun projects for kids to enjoy outdoors by Sarah O'Neil, published by New Holland, $34.99.