The lure of a warm summer day while enjoying time in the garden is even better with kids or grandkids in tow.

The lure of a warm summer day while enjoying time in the garden is even better with kids or grandkids in tow.

Perhaps the only thing sweeter than having pint-sized help with tilling soil and tending plants is visual evidence of the next generation. We have some suggestion to make this happen by way of colorful windsocks, homemade stepping stones or river rocks turned into love bugs, frogs or dragons.

Ashland artist and craft teacher Amy Godard, and craft guru at the Michael’s store in Medford, Cindy Buford, say summer garden crafts are the most fun to delve into. Taking the notion of caring for a patch of Earth a step further, recycled materials are an inexpensive and environmentally-conscious path to a customized, colorful garden area.

“No matter what you make,” Godard says, “it’s not about the final product but about creating something with their hands and kids making their own contribution to the garden… And using recycled materials teaches kids to recycle, too.”

From stepping stones to garden critters and painted rocks to wind socks, Godard and Buford offer a handful of suggestions for non-edible garden masterpieces.

Painted Rock Garden Pets
Rivers in southern Oregon offer a great chance to enjoy river rock painting – and any size will do, Godard says. Small ones make great garden bugs while larger ones become turtles or faces.
Supplies: river rocks, acrylic or latex paint.

1. Wash the rock with soapy water.
2. Use a piece of chalk to sketch a design onto the rock.
3. Paint the design, let it dry and add the rock to a creative spot in the garden, for example, a bright turtle nestled under colorful daisies. For extra life, add a coat of clear UV protection.

Wind sock
Add a touch of whimsy to the garden with something colorful fluttering on a summer breeze.
Supplies: plastic lid, scrap fabric, yarn or string, stapler, scissors and a swivel (like those used for fishing).
1. Cut a hole in the plastic lid leaving at least a 1/4 inch on the parameter.
2. Poke equally distanced holes in the lid.
3. Cut 1/2 inch strips of fabric.
4. Attach fabric/plastic to plastic lid with stapler.
5. Tie three equal length pieces of string to holes in the lid .
6. Tie three strings to the swivel.
7. Add one more piece of string to the swivel and hang.

Milk Carton Bird House
A great use for empty paper milk cartons, homemade bird houses can be customized with paint, moss (on the roof) and stickers.
Supplies: Paper milk carton, stapler, acrylic or latex paint, scissors or a knife, and twine.
1. Clean and dry the milk carton thoroughly.
2. Staple the top of the carton shut.
3. Prep the carton by painting it white so the design of the carton is obscured.
4. Paint and customize.
5. After the birdhouse dries, have an adult help cut a hole about 4 inches above the bottom of the carton, approximately 1 inch to 1 1/2 inches in diameter.
6. Poke a few drainage holes in the bottom of the carton and two ventilation holes in the top of the carton.
7. Poke a hole through the top of the feeder, string a piece of twine through the hole and hang your feeder on a tree.

Stepping Stones
Finally, a touch of handmade art and a way to get to A from B, stepping stones add instant character to a garden area.
Supplies: cement or stepping stone mix, different shaped molds, smooth stones, rocks and embellishments such as letters or broken tile or colored glass (use gloves and be careful with sharp edges).
1. Follow instructions for mix.
2. Arrange stones and embellishments as desired and lightly press into surface.
3. Give the stone at least 24 hours to dry before removing from the mold.
4. Weave a path with several stones or set a single stone inside the garden as a focal point declaring “Gramma’s Garden” or “Welcome!”