It’s common knowledge that the more that kids are outside, the happier they are. It boosts health, their immune system and their sense of curiosity and wonder. It’s just a given: kids should be outdoors.
The world is a dangerous place, or at least it feels that way. The days of 1970s latch-key kids are long gone. That generation of parents has been replaced by a generation who see danger rather than a safe neighborhood. An enclosed garden can help ease a parent’s fear of allowing their kids to wander around the neighborhood. Children can still play outdoors, and you can protect their environment.
If you’ve got an area of your garden is not being used and you have no idea what to do with it, it can be tempting just to throw things at it and see what sticks. Here’s a list of dos and don’ts to help you create a great outdoor space:
DO: Make It Secure
A privacy fence is invaluable tool in helping to keep your brood from prying eyes. It’s also great for keeping them inside the perimeter of the property where you can keep an eye on them, and know their location at all times. If you have a part of your garden that is overlooked, consider a gazebo or similar, which has the double impact of protection from the sun.
DON’T: Install A Pond
Image From: WikiMedia Commons
There’re a couple of caveats to this one. Parents must teach children to respect the water. That’s a tricky task with youngsters who want to catch or watch fish and dragonflies. Keep temptation away until they fully understand the dangers of drowning. If you can’t resist a pond, ensure it has sloping sides so any child (or creature) falling in can clamber out.
DO: Focus On Soft Landings
Children are going to stumble in the play area or fall off the swing set. It’s almost inevitable. You need to ensure the ground that they’re landing on is friendly, no matter what the weather. Grass and mud dry out in summer heat and can be as hard as concrete. Sand is a popular choice, as long as it’s kid-friendly. You can also use wood chips or mulch in your play area. Unfortunately, they’re not as forgiving, but they’re better than bare earth.
DON’T: Allow Tree Climbing
I know, I know – it’s a childhood dream! Every kid wants to climb trees! Ensure the tree is strong enough to hold your child’s weigh. Tree branches can be deceiving. Being large doesn’t make them strong. Children moving along them can cause them to break with the additional weigh. Building a tree house is a viable solution. If not, call in a tree expert to assess the tree for weakness and have weak limbs removed.
DO: Give Yourself A Vantage Point
Try and organize your garden in such a way that you can see it all from one spot. Hiding places, such as behind sheds, can bring extra dangers. Block off those areas if possible. Remove any trees if you must to ensure you can see the entire garden area with a quick glance.