Online Horticultural Expert at Wyevale Garden Centres, Nicky Roeber, takes a closer look at how you can turn your garden into a child-safe sanctuary…
In recent years, spending leisure time indoors has become more commonplace for children, chiefly thanks to the rise of connected technology like games consoles, mobile phones, and tablets. While this is fine if properly managed, spending too much time indoors can be detrimental to their health.
For example, it was found in 2017 that fewer than a quarter of British kids are getting enough daily exercise (NHS), a problem that would be partially solved if they spent more time outdoors. What’s more, research has shown that having fun outside is a great way of boosting wellbeing, with benefits like boosted creativity and improved attention and focus.
With this in mind, it may be worth thinking about how you can transform your garden into a space where your child can play without harm. I’ve put together a few safety tips, so read on to find out more.
1. Secure the perimeter
One of the first things you should do before allowing your kids to play outside is to make sure that any boundaries around your garden are secure. This is very important for keeping your kids safe in the garden, especially when you remember how naturally inquisitive children can be, especially if they’re very young (and able to crawl through small gaps).
Check that any fences or walls are up to the task of keeping your little ones safe. You should ensure planks or bricks won’t come loose if they’re pushed or pulled and be sure to lock any gates that could be easily opened by little hands. If you have hedged boundaries, make sure there are no gaps through or under them where someone could go exploring. You can easily block these with a well-placed trellis or some chicken wire.
2. Prepare for trips and falls
Though you might want to wrap your kids in cotton wool, eventually they’re bound to have a trip or fall. However, you can make sure that your garden is as safe as possible for those potential tumbles.
If you have paving stones outside, make sure any that are cracked or loose are replaced as soon as possible to reduce the risk of any tripping. While a lawn can provide some natural padding for climbing frames, swings, and slides, you may want to add some rubberised outdoor play mats for some extra protection. If your garden is gravelled, consider switching to a solid surface covering to remove the risk of choking or additional injuries after a fall.
3. Tidy and secure equipment and furniture
When you’ve been doing some gardening or even just relaxing on your outdoor furniture, it’s important you get into the habit of tidying away any items that could cause injury to your children. Even something as small as a garden trowel or as innocuous as a sun lounger has the potential to cause a nasty injury if misused, so having somewhere secure to store them is key.
If you have a garage or shed, make use of them and keep your tools and furniture locked safely away when they aren’t in use. Alternatively, you could invest in an outdoor storage cupboard to keep everything nice and tidy. It’s also important that you let your kids know how dangerous these items can be, and that they are only for adults to use.
4. Take care around water
If you’ve got a pond or you’re lucky enough to have a swimming pool, you will need to make sure it is fenced off to prevent your little ones from falling in. Ponds, in particular, are a fairly common garden feature, and they’re often quite low down. Consider adding some netting across your pond’s length and breadth to ensure your kids are protected should an accident occur.
Take my advice on board and you will be able to turn your garden into a child-friendly space for your little ones. Then, when the weather improves, you can look forward to seeing them enjoy hours of playtime outdoors.