How to Make Your Garden More Child-Friendly
Children of all ages should be encouraged to spend as much time outside as possible.
Active children are less likely to be overweight and getting plenty of exercise can also help them to improve their schoolwork – there’s a growing amount of evidence that links physical activity to academic success.
But in today’s society, with social media and digital gadgets being such a big part of children’s lives, right from a very young age, this can be a difficult task.
To help encourage your children to stop watching TV or put down their phones and tablets, it is important to make the garden as child-friendly as possible to entice them out into the fresh air.
But it is also very important, from a parent’s point of view, that the garden is a safe enough environment for the children to play in unsupervised, if they are old enough to do that. Both parents and children need to feel comfortable about them being out there.
In our latest blog post, we are looking at ways in which you can achieve this.
Fortunately, many of the ideas in this article are easy and do not require huge amounts of money to implement – hopefully, you’ll find some inspiration to make your own garden more child-friendly.
Build a Mud Kitchen
Children absolutely love getting their hands dirty and creating a mud kitchen will give them the perfect excuse to do so.
You can use recycled pallets to create a simple work surface, or even visit a charity shop to pick up a cheap table or unit, along with some pots, pans and kitchen utensils that your children can use to create the perfect mud pie!
Building a mud kitchen is a very inexpensive way of creating hours of entertainment for enthusiastic children.
Give Them Their Own Plot
Encouraging children to grow their own plants and flowers is a fantastic way to help them learn about nature, whilst also helping to build their self-esteem.
Everything, from planting the initial seeds, to regularly tending to their seedlings, to nurturing the young plants and then finally seeing them in full bloom will give them a tremendous sense of satisfaction and achievement.
To help encourage them, why not build a raised bed from sleepers or mark out a patch of the garden that they can use to grow whatever they choose.
A good idea would be for them to grow their own fruits or vegetables; that way they will get to eat what they have grown, and of course, your children eating more fruit and veg will never be a bad thing!
Make sure that you give them an area of the garden that will receive plenty of sunlight, otherwise things may struggle to grow, which would be disheartening for them.
Avoid Ponds and Water Features
Water features and ponds make great additions to the garden, but if you have children, especially young children, you’ll want to avoid having water in the garden.
It is possible to drown in only a few inches of water, meaning that even the smallest water features could potentially pose a threat to young children.
If your children like playing ball games in the garden, the likelihood is that at some point a ball will end up going into the pond and there is a risk of them falling in when they attempt to retrieve it.
Many pond and water features are a breeding ground for germs and bacteria, which could potentially make your children ill, too.
If you already have a pond in your garden, you don’t necessarily need to get rid of it completely as it is possible to obtain safety grids which are installed over the surface, to prevent children from falling in.
Install Artificial Grass
Installing artificial grass is a great way to make your garden more child-friendly.
One of the biggest reasons is that they’ll have access to the garden lawn all year round, even during the winter months.
That’s because with an artificial lawn, there is no mud and no mess, meaning that even if rain briefly stops play, they will be able to get straight back outside when it fairs up as, unlike a real lawn, it will not become a boggy, waterlogged mess.
This is good news for parents, too, as there will be no more muddy footprints trodden into the house and the kids will be able to run off excess energy in the garden, whatever the time of the year.
Artificial grass will also create a safer environment for children to play in as it will reduce the risk of trips and slips, and also help to cushion the impact of falls.
Fake turf can also be used to create a safe playing surface around climbing frames and swings, especially when it is installed alongside a foam shock pad.
These foam underlays add cushioning to the artificial turf to protect children from falls and are compliant with head impact criteria.
Create an Area for Adults
It is important that the garden can be used by the whole family, and that includes the parents, too!
If you create an area for adults within your garden, it will give you your own personal space to relax and enjoy the outdoors for yourself.
The area shouldn’t be made ‘adults only’ as, of course, it is important to interact and enjoy the garden with your children.
It should be ideally situated so that you have a view over the entire garden, so that whilst your children are playing, you can keep an eye on their whereabouts at all times.
Creating a patio area near the house is perfect for this.
You can also keep very young children with you on the patio and even fence off other areas of the garden, to make sure they are kept close by and within sight.
Install a Sunken Trampoline
Trampolines provide hours of entertainment for young children (and sometimes adults, too!) as well as being a great form of exercise.
Some trampolines can take up lots of space and, particularly if you have a small garden, make your garden feel even smaller.
The solution to this is to purchase a trampoline that is designed to be sunk into the ground.
This, of course, will require you to excavate a small opening in a lawn or area of your garden. However, why not enlist the help of your children to get this done? As a bonus, the excavated topsoil can be used to top up the flower beds in your garden.
You can also install a safety net that can be taken down when the trampoline is not in use to minimise the impact that a trampoline has on your garden.
Create a Designated Play Area
If you have plants and shrubs that you would like to protect from potential damage, you may find it beneficial to create a designated play area within your garden.
This play area can be cordoned off from the rest of the garden by installing a small picket fence or raised sleepers.
The surfacing of the play area could consist of artificial grass, sand, bark mulch or even rubber mulch.
Climbing frames and the kids’ toys can be kept there, too.
Creating space especially for the kids will give them an area that they can call their own, whilst the rest of the garden can remain just the way you want it to.
Check for Toxic Plants
When looking to create a child-friendly garden, you will, of course, need to be wary about any plants that could be potentially toxic to your children – and your dogs, and other pets, if you have them.
We don’t want to be alarmist – serious poisoning is extremely rare in the UK and, even though some plants have the potential to cause harm, most hardly ever do. However, it is still wise to take a few precautions.
More often than not, it’s about educating and making your children aware of potentially dangerous plants and blocking access to them, rather than completely removing them.
It is also wise to do your research before buying any new plants for your garden, to check for potential toxins.
Potentially poisonous plants include hydrangeas, foxgloves, daffodils, water hemlock, giant hogweed and bluebells.
Your garden should encourage your children to get outside and enjoy the great outdoors.
It should have plenty of interest to ensure that there is enough to keep them occupied and feed their imagination.
And, of course, it is important to create a safe environment so that the older children can play outside without constant supervision from adults.
Hopefully, following some of the simple tips in this article will help you to achieve this.
Do you have any other ideas to help make our gardens more child-friendly? Is there anything in our article that you think we should have mentioned, but didn’t? Or any of our ideas that you don’t agree with?
Either way, we love to receive your comments and suggestions, and you can contact us using the comments section below.
We look forward to hearing from you.