Gardening hack: Pay kids a penny per weed

Future Parenthacker Adam (that’s how he signed the email!) brought back childhood memories of hot afternoons spent weeding:

We don’t have kids yet, but my wife and I both experienced this hack as children and intend to use it ourselves when the time comes. When the dandelions first start to bloom, offer your kids a penny apiece (or whatever they may be interested in – extra time with Elmo?) for every dandelion they turn in. It helps you eliminate weeds from the yard before they seed, keeps the kids busy, and rewards them for their effort.

If they’re old enough, be sure to teach them about taproots! Dandelions will resprout within days if only the leaves get plucked.

More: Best of Parent Hacks: Gardening with kids


  1. says

    We’ve done this with matching socks!

    When I had a huge mismatched-sock backlog, I paid my (then) four kids, one penny each for the matched set. The trick was, that for each match, they all got the penny. This eliminated potential competition, and they worked together.

    It cost me 4 cents per pair, but they matched over 100 pair in about an hour and a half.

    Not only did they have an activity that occupied them for 90 minutes, while I got some work done, but I had a basket and a half of matched socks for under $5.

  2. says

    My mother used to pay 25cents a pound for maple seedlings. Any idea how many of them in a pound? Uncountable! It was cruel and unusual punishment.

  3. Chakolate says

    My dad paid us a nickel a pound for weeds. The hard part was that by the time he got home that evening, they had dried out quite a bit.

    Anyway, I wouldn’t worry about the taproots. If the offer is ongoing, those weeds won’t have a chance to grow. Every summer our lawn was pure green and the neighbors’ were speckled with those sunny little yellow faces. Then we figured out that our dad couldn’t tell where the weeds came from, so our green somehow managed to swell into our neighbors’ yards, too. ;-D

  4. Austenfan says

    This hack brings back memories! My mom used to pay me a penny a weed to weed her garden. I will have to remember this for our daughter when she is a bit older.

  5. says

    this is hilarious – my gardening hubby just yesterday suggested doing the same thing for my daughter. she is only six, so getting roots out would be slow going for her – i think we might need to up the pay to 5 or 10 cents per weed – or go by pound.

  6. says

    I agree with that idea. It would be a good way for their gardening skill to develop. We just have to make sure that we don’t give them too much task to worry about.

  7. says

    We got two cents for each dandelion (with root attached) from the front yard and one cent for each from the back yard. That was at least 15 years ago. To this day that grass has the least amount of dandelions in the neighborhood.

  8. says

    That’s a good training for the kids. I think some kids enjoy the idea pulling weeds. We just to be specific in giving instructions, otherwise the yard would be a mess.

  9. Atlanta Jill says

    I used to pay my neighbor’s son a quarter per bag of pinecones. Here in Georgia there were plenty to pick up!

  10. Parent Hacks Editor says

    My kids are unmotivated by money, but they do love to earn “points.” We’re keeping track of how many points we earn as a family — anyone can earn them for hard work or celebratory moments. Once we earn 100 points, we get to go out for ice cream sundaes. Yesterday my daughter earned points for filling a plastic post with weed seedlings.

  11. Tim says

    When I was a kid, I got $0.10/pound for clearing the garden of rocks. My dad seriously underestimated the weight of rocks and ended up giving me $20

  12. says

    Hey,it’s a great idea. Why didn’t i think of it before? Now i can get my garden cleaned faster than before!

  13. chs says

    my kids love this one too. i pay a penny a dandelion or 5 cents if they get the whole plant (root and all). i’m fine with them picking them from the neighbors’ planting strips too, because I figure it results in fewer seeds to blow back into our yard. it’s still an uphill battle though, so sometimes i think i should just embrace the weeds.