Plant a Seed readers enjoyed our summer season article about beachcombing finds that make fantastic accents for a home garden. Today, we’re building on this concept with another source of gardening goodies from the great outdoors – a hiking trail near you. Put your kids in charge of creating a list from the items below and get ready to have some scavenger hunting fun that your garden will also benefit from!

4 Things to Bring Back from Your Family’s Hiking Adventures That Can Benefit the Backyard Garden


Pinecones are plentiful in Canada’s woods, so you won’t have a problem finding them on your next family hike. They make visually pleasing ornaments for the area around your backyard. Kids can hang them to decorate fencing, the shed, the deck, outdoor window trimming, and more. But beyond aesthetics, pinecones serve a functional benefit in the garden.

For one, they can be added to your garden’s compost pile and they can also be used as mulch in preparation for the cool autumn/winter season to come. In addition, pinecones provide sanctuary for ladybugs which are beneficial insects that you want to introduce/keep in your yard. Moreover, pinecones can be used as playful borders to delineate different crops in the garden.


You’ll need to bring along a wagon on your next hiking expedition, because collecting rocks requires significantly more heavy lifting than with pinecones. That said, they can be equally beneficial in your backyard garden. Rocks can be used to partition sturdy pathways to keep people (family and guests) and even pets from stepping into planted areas and damaging plants. Furthermore, rocks are a great mulching option for households with drainage issues on the property. Rocks allow water to drain quickly, and they also control weeds and keep non-beneficial insects away.


Have you heard of seed collection hikes? It’s a concept that is rapidly growing in popularity in prairie and forest lands across Canada. Naturalists and participants hike through their respective regions to collect native flowers and grass seeds that can be planted in backyard gardens. Doing so promotes biological diversity. Your family will need to do some research about which plants are native to your region, to ensure that you’re not collecting anything that is invasive. Please don’t dig up whole plants but you can usually sollect seeds – just remember to leave the majority in their natural habitat for future plants. This is fun and very educational way to get more out of your hikes while doing your garden some good.


There are plenty of bird feathers to be found on the ground of your local hiking trail. While kids love to collect them for arts and crafts, they too provide a functional benefit for your garden. Feathers are some of the most nitrogen-rich composting materials you can find. As such, they can be used to replace synthetic fertilizers that you may currently be applying to your garden. Use some of the rocks you’ve collected (see above) to keep feathers from blowing away on windy days.

Stay tuned to our blog for more fun tips to leveraging Mother Nature’s bounty in your own backyard.

Happy Hiking Canada!

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