For many of us, our gardens are a place for relaxation; a sanctuary where we can enjoy a little sunshine amongst carefully curated plant beds and be at one with nature. Of course, with the patter of tiny feet and start of family life, things tend to change a little. Parents and grandparents often find themselves adapting their gardens to ensure their children have somewhere to play safely and explore.
To give you a helping hand with this, we’ve put together a little guide to creating a child-friendly garden, without sacrificing its existing beauty.
If you want a garden that can be enjoyed by both adults and children in your household, zoning is the answer. Creating a dedicated area where your children can play will stop their toys and equipment taking over your entire outdoor space and ensure you still have room for ‘adult things’ like your garden furniture and plants.
Creating a play area in your garden will also make it easier to supervise younger children, as they’ll be in one place.
Use decorative garden screens to section off an area for your kids to play. They’re available in lots of lovely colours and designs that children are sure to love.
Consider alternatives to grass
Grass is lovely but when it comes to creating a child-friendly garden, it’s not always the most practical option. Installing artificial grass is a sensible choice for a child-friendly garden as it’ll wear better and allow your kids to play outside all-year-round, without getting too muddy. Oh and it’ll save you from having to mow it – see we’re thinking of you!
If you’re building a kids’ play area in your garden, it might be a good idea to pick up some recycled rubber mulch. It’s the best kind of mulch to lay under play equipment, as it can absorb some of the impact if a child falls and may help to prevent injury. It’s also durable, good at protecting soil and will allow rainwater to drain away, so you won’t have to worry about it getting slippery.
Making a planting area
Encourage your children to get into gardening by creating a little planting area just for them. Let them choose their own seeds or bulbs at the gardening centre and encourage them to plant them with you. It’ll be an educational experience, as you can encourage them to use their senses to explore their surroundings. From smelling the sweet scent of flowers to gently touching their silky-soft petals and identifying different colours and patterns; there’s a lot that can be learnt from being out in nature.
If you have space, you could also make a vegetable patch for your kids to grow their own food. Again, it’ll prove to have educational benefits as you can tie it in with talks about healthy eating. If you don’t have a lot of room, look for vegetables that can grow in small planters or window boxes instead.
Build a playhouse or tree house
A DIY playhouse or tree house can make a lovely addition to child-friendly gardens and are great for little kids to young teens (with a few adaptions!) They encourage imaginative play and will also provide shelter if your kids want to play outside when the weather isn’t so great. Teens will also love having somewhere they can escape to with their friends, away from the parents (sorry guys). At least you can have the peace of mind that they’re safe!
Although there are plenty of retailers you can buy a ready-made playhouse or tree house from, there’s something that little bit more special about making your own, if you have the time. Making it out of recycled materials, like wooden pallets, will save you a lot of money and you can always give it a lick of paint for a more professional finish.
Enclose your garden for added security
We’ve already talked about how decorative garden screens are great for dividing your outdoor space into zones but they’re also a practical and style alternative to traditional fencing too.
Fencing your garden and creating boundaries will give you peace of mind that your children are safe. They won’t be able to wander off and it’ll stop animals, like dogs, from neighbouring gardens, intruding too. Choosing decorative steel garden screens will help you create a private and safe garden for your children to play in and what’s more, they won’t steal all of your sunlight. Unlike traditional wooden fencing, they require very little maintenance and are designed to withstand even the harshest British weather; protecting your plants and your little people playing outside!
Prevent accidents by fencing water-based features
Whilst on the topic of safety, we all know that ponds and outdoor swimming pools are potential hazards for young children. Drowning is the leading cause of injury death in children age 1-4 and it can happen in as little as an inch or two of water. Fencing off ponds, swimming pools, hot tubs and any other water-based features with decorative garden screens will help you step up safety levels in your garden and give you extra peace of mind.
We’d recommend fencing all the way round and adding a gate with a padlock, to prevent your children from accessing any water in your garden unsupervised.
Don’t strip back plants and trees
If you only have a small garden, it’s likely you’ll be considering limiting the number of plants and trees, so your kids have more room to play. The problem with this is that it can make your garden look lifeless and empty.
Trees and plants not only add interest to your garden but they’ll also attract wildlife like butterflies and birds, which your kids will love. Trees can have rope and tyre swings attached to them for young kids and hammocks for older children. They’ll also provide shelter from the sun, which is a blessing on hot summer days.
Your kids will have just as much fun darting around your garden, hiding behind trees and weaving between the shrubberies, so there’s no need to strip back on nature in your garden.
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We hope our post has given you some ideas and inspiration for creating a safe and fun garden for your children to play in. If you have a moment spare, we’d love it if you shared this post on social media. Thanks!