Making Your Garden Child-Friendly This Summer

Is your garden child-friendly? Watching your children playing in the sun is a lovely sight, but worrying for their safety is something you want to avoid.

Therefore, it’s best to ensure everything is as safe as possible in your garden before curious minds and exploring fingers come out and play.

Bark Mulch Instead of Gravel

Bark chippings used as a mulch - © Howard Rice/GAP Photos

Bark chippings used as a mulch – © Howard Rice/GAP Photos

As we all know, children love to play. But, it’s not uncommon to find your child with grazed knees, bruised legs, and cut elbows after an hour or two of playing outside.

While this is all a part of growing up, preventing unnecessary injuries in your garden can’t be a bad idea.

Therefore, try replacing your hard gravel or stone paths with bark mulch; this will help to turn your garden into a child-friendly area while maintaining it’s great look.

Decorative stones and gravel have a wide range of uses in the garden: paths, flower beds, decoration, and more. Although gravel is one of the best materials for decoration in your garden, it can also be one of the most painful materials to fall and cut your knee on.

Bark mulch can still do all the fundamental jobs that gravel does but without the risk of injuring your super-energetic children in the meantime.

Think About Artificial Grass

Artificial lawn (Astroturf) - © Dave Beavan/GAP Photos

Artificial lawn (Astroturf) – © Dave Beavan/GAP Photos

In recent months, there has been a lot of talk about the benefits of artificial grass, compared to natural lawns and which is better. Its popularity continues to increase and, as a result of this, seeing artificial grass in gardens is becoming increasingly common.

So, why is artificial grass going to make your garden more child-friendly?

A good question. Not only is artificial grass a soft, bouncy surface, it is also extremely low maintenance – something natural grass cannot offer.

Natural grass requires regular mowing, watering, feeding, and don’t forget the extra attention to shady areas. With artificial grass, however, you don’t need to worry about any of that. You don’t need to worry about your small children while mowing the lawn; they shouldn’t get hurt from falling on the bouncy surface; and best of all, your lawn will look beautiful all year round!

Include Safe Water Features

Water feature - © Elke Borkowski/GAP Photos

Water feature – © Elke Borkowski/GAP Photos

Water is one of the easiest ways to entertain your children for hours on end. A small paddling pool and a hose is all you need for hours of fun in the summer, but is there a more permanent way to add water to your garden?

Adding a pond to your garden has many benefits; not only is it a perfect water feature that will probably add value to your home, but it will also be the source of unlimited fun for your children and a great way to educate them about wildlife and nature.

Of course, the size and style of your pond depends on the age of your children. If they are very young, it’s a good idea to include a form of netting over the top of the water to prevent any accidents. For older children, the netting may not be needed, but they must still learn the appropriate safety precautions.

If a pond doesn’t take your fancy, you could try a small water fountain, a still water feature along the ground, or just a stylish bowl filled with water and pebbles.

Avoid Toxic Plants

Acalypha wilkessiana 'Marginata' - Copperleaf, also known as Beafsteak Plant or Fijian Firebush - © Neil Overy/GAP Photos

Acalypha wilkessiana ‘Marginata’ – Copperleaf, also known as Beafsteak Plant or Fijian Firebush – © Neil Overy/GAP Photos

The first thing a child wants to do when finding something new is put it in their mouth. Due to this, we – as parents – need to be careful about what we allow our children to “eat.”

Dirt and grass may not be the best thing for a child to put in their mouth, but it’s not going to do them any harm. There are plants, though, that can be toxic and poisonous to your children, and these are the plants that shouldn’t be included in your garden.

While many plants are completely harmless, there are a few that have the potential to be toxic to your children if eaten.

Check out this list from Royal Horticultural Society to make sure you don’t accidentally include any hazardous plants in your garden.

Encourage Exploration and Interaction

Young boy planting and firming in young Helianthus - Sunflower plant which he has grown from seed - © Richard Bloom/GAP Photos

Young boy planting and firming in young Helianthus – Sunflower plant which he has grown from seed – © Richard Bloom/GAP Photos

Your child-friendly garden needs to have an area dedicated solely to children. They need a space that is specifically theirs where they can build their own world with pure imagination. This area would be better off hidden from parents so the kids’ creativity can be at 100%.

All you’ll need to do is take over a small area behind a large tree or a shed or something similar and make it your child’s responsibility. They could build a secret den, dig it up, plant small flowers, play in it, anything they like!

Once you make sure it’s safe, you can leave them to it for hours on end.

Include an Adult Area

Tucked away in quiet corner at bottom of garden a raised wooden deck with outdoor rattan furniture and containers of acer, bonsai, verbena, coleus and ornamental grasses - © Nicola Stocken/GAP Photos

Tucked away in quiet corner at bottom of garden a raised wooden deck with outdoor rattan furniture and containers of acer, bonsai, verbena, coleus and ornamental grasses – © Nicola Stocken/GAP Photos

Of course, if your child gets their own personal space it’s only fair the adults get the same privilege. A child-free zone in the garden.

This could be a small fenced-off gardening area at the back of the garden, a decking area for relaxation as you watch over the rest of the garden or even a greenhouse. Just something you know you can visit which will be exactly how you left it – obviously excluding plant growth.

Encourage Education

Woodpecker on peanut bird feeder - Dendrocopos Major - © Jacqui Dracup/GAP Photos

Woodpecker on peanut bird feeder – Dendrocopos Major – © Jacqui Dracup/GAP Photos

As well as looking wonderful and being a safe environment for your children to play in, you also want your garden to be as educational as possible.

Your child will naturally be curious about nature, insects, animals and birds, and other elements of wildlife as they explore the garden while growing up, so make sure they learn as much as they can during the process.

Add a bird feature to your garden. This could be a small bird feeder, bird bath, or both! Your children can observe the birds and learn a bit about the different species that enter your garden.

Similarly, attract butterflies, bees, hummingbirds, insects and other animals to your garden with specific plants. Again, observing how the different creatures act will be a brilliant educational experience for your children.

To encourage education even further: plant a section of edible plants to teach your children about what they can eat (and what they can’t!); create signposts for each of your different plants, and even add a sundial so they can learn about how the sun and earth work together.

Finally, you could plant a perfume or touch garden. A perfume garden will produce a range of beautiful smells, and a touch garden will be filled with heavy-duty flowers ready to be touched time and time again. Doing this will allow children to experience their difference senses.

Author Bio

Kevin is an avid gardener and DIYer and enjoys reading related gardening and home improvement articles. Working for Grabco, he gets to see a lot of the projects that home owners embark on and the resulting transformations. He also picks up a lot of fresh ideas and current trends, so enjoys writing about them to share with other like-minded readers.