If you have young children, it’s nice to be able to let them enjoy the garden without having to hover over them and worry about what they are doing all the time. Gardens are notorious for hidden hazards, many of which don’t even cross our mind until the inevitable happens, so here, we look at a few ways to make it safer and more enjoyable for young children.
1. Risk assess your garden.
This sounds pretty extreme, but it is a good idea to get down on your child’s level and see the potential dangers from their point of view. Look around you and make a note of anything that could be potentially dangerous – loose bricks in walls, rough edges, ponds without some sort of protective cover, missing fence panels.
2. Check how secure it is
This should be part of your overall risk assessment, but it is essential to make sure that your garden is secure and has clear boundaries. Do you share a garden with your next door neighbour, or is there any potential for members of the general public to access your garden? Fix any fences or gates, make sure they are locked when your children are out there and if you have pets, make sure their toilet area is not accessible to children, or at the very least is cleared up immediately.
3. Consider the plants
Before you plant something, check whether it is poisonous. Little kids are curious and often put everything they see in their mouths. Make sure the plants are all safe, and that anything that is thorny is located in a place where they are unlikely to scratch the children. If you choose to use weedkiller or other chemicals in your garden, make sure it is done when your children and pets are safely inside.
4. Create a fun area
Attach a child-safe mirror to the fence, or paint a wall in outdoor chalkboard paint. Create a safe obstacle course using things like railway sleepers, tree stumps, and stepping stones. Children love a bit of safe water play, so attach some guttering and pipes to the fence or a wall for them to pour water down. Use paint on concrete to create a road or track for bikes and push along cars, or a cosy corner with bean bags and bunting. Always remember to leave a large enough patch of grass so the kids can play sports games too. Keep balls and sports equipment handy and you’ll be sure to spot the kids outdoors kicking a ball around, playing swingball and badminton whenever they get the chance. Your imagination is the only limit here!
5. Get the kids involved
Kids love getting their hands dirty so get them involved in creating a space for them. You could get them planting fruit and vegetables. Not only does it save you money in the longer term, but it may encourage them to eat and help to prepare their own meals. Courgettes, strawberries, and tomatoes are not too labour intensive and are relatively easy to grow.
Your garden should be a space for everyone to enjoy, have fun in and be safe. Take some of these simple tips on board, and you will all enjoy it for many years to come.