Watching the grandchildren running around, playing and squealing with delight in the garden is one of life's little pleasures. But children will be children, which means certain garden design features could prove dangerous to little fingers.
If you’re concerned about the safety of your garden, there are several things you can do to make it children-friendly without compromising on style, leaving you with more time to enjoy some good old-fashioned fun with your family. Here’s how:
1. Reduce and/or remove potential hazards
Let’s start with the basics...
Before you let the little ones loose in your garden, make sure there are no obvious hazards lying around.
Things like troughs, water buckets and ponds are all potential dangers, so drain the water or cover them with a steel sheet to prevent the children from falling in. It only takes a couple of seconds for trouble to strike, so minimise the risk by being prepared.
It’s also a wise idea to remove all injury hazards before your grandchildren come to play.
Garden statues, loose slabs and hidden holes in the grass can be a problem for active, excitable children.
Before they arrive, move all bulky items to a secure area and fill in the holes to keep the little ones safe. That way, you’ll get to enjoy some quality time together instead of worrying about their wellbeing.
As soon as your grandchildren go home, you can put your garden back to the way you like it.
2. Create designated fun zones
If you have a large garden, you might want to consider creating a family-friendly fun zone.
Place it close to the house where you can keep the best eye on your grandchildren and use a mini wooden fence (or something similar) to keep them confined to a safe area. Provide lots of fun toys and games so that they remain entertained.
Creating your fun zone on grass is best, as it’s softer and less likely to cause an injury. But if you have a patio, you could lay down some blankets or shock-absorbing foam pads to protect the children if they fall over.
As soon as the little ones go home, you can store them away in a plastic box, ready for next time.
3. Lock the gates
If your garden has a gate, make sure the little ones can’t get it open by child-proofing the lock.
A solid latch will keep them within the safety of your garden, so secure it with an up-to-date locking system and teach the children that they mustn’t touch the gate under any circumstances.
4. Create a safe swing
No garden is complete without a swing.
If your garden space allows it, hang a durable rope swing from the strongest branches and supervise your grandchildren whenever they fancy a thrill. That way, you can hold onto them at all times to stop them from falling.
To enhance the swing’s safety, hang it over a soft grassy patch and keep it away from fences and footpaths.
Rope swings are easy to remove once the children go home and won’t spoil your garden’s overall aesthetic.
5. Check for toxic plants
Encouraging children to have an interest in nature is a wonderful learning experience - one that can have far-reaching benefits in the future.
But before you teach your grandchildren about the various flowers and plants in your garden, make sure the ones you’ve planted are non-toxic.
Children love to touch and pick at things and often place dirty fingers in their mouths, even if you tell them not to, so toxic greenery is a potential hazard.
The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) has put together a comprehensive list of potentially harmful garden plants, so be sure to take a look before adding new ones to your garden.
Bear in mind that prickly plants should also be off-limits. If the little ones grab hold of one by mistake, it’s bound to hurt.
To further enhance their learning, place an insect hotel or bird box in your garden and encourage your grandchildren to observe and name all the creatures that make themselves home.
Creating a child-friendly garden can be fun and rewarding. It can also enhance the quality time you have to spend with your children or grandchildren.
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