Children love to play outdoors and will get into anything and everything in the area as they grow, so creating a space that is educational, fun and safe is important. This article by guest author Jayde Ferguson recommends these essentials.
These days though it’s hard to keep up, our lifestyles have become busier, technology is taking over, backyards seem to be shrinking in size and adults and children want completely different things. Whilst we seek a beautiful outdoor design that is maintained and perfect for entertaining and relaxing in, children are just happy to have an unkempt jungle where they can explore and get dirty. So how do you keep everyone happy and make a space that ticks all the boxes? We look into a few great ideas.
1. Adequate Shade
Shade is important for sun safety and will benefit both you and your children. Consider planting trees that offer shady play spaces for the little ones, while you can lay relaxing in a hammock under another.
Large outdoor umbrellas and sun shades also provide adequate shading in the warmer months whilst still being able to enjoy the outdoors. If the space allows for it, a cubby house is great idea to still entertain the children but keep them out of the harsh sun.
2. Water Features and Pool Fencing
Water is a great feature in the garden but for curious children it can pose as a serious danger. Fitting any ponds and water features with safety grilles will ensure children cannot fall in but can still explore and be entertained.
Sadly, drownings are the most common cause of preventable death of children aged 0-5 so pool fencing is mandatory for swimming and spa pools over 300mm deep. Compliant safety barriers are required for in-ground, above-ground and indoor spa pools including Jacuzzis and outdoor hot tubs.
Providing they don’t contain more than 300mm of water, portable wading pools do not require a child safety barrier but it’s still urged parents and careers are aware of the dangers these types of pool can inflict.
3. Garden Experiences
Spending money on expensive plants only to watch your children race through the garden and destroy half of them can be frustrating and heartbreaking – but there is a way to keep both sides happy.
Gardens are fantastic for little ones as it provides resourceful learning tools and amusement. Consider making designated areas for the kids to play in, and keeping a no-go area for your special plants so they too can experience the enjoyment.
Be aware of the plants you have in your garden and make sure they are ‘child friendly’. When purchasing, check the labels or ask to ensure they aren’t poisonous and stay away from plants with sharp thorns.
Children love plants they can pick, smell and hide under whilst adults want something that looks great and minimal maintenance. Native plants are great for this as they more resilient for child play.
4. Decking Out the Area
A hardwood deck does wonders for providing a tasteful and practical entertaining area and is the perfect place for family and friends to hang out.
For decks that are elevated, balustrades should be installed to prevent children falling off. Make sure the gaps between are child friendly though – they shouldn’t be able to climb over, crawl underneath or squeeze through. If you have stairs leading to and from your deck child gates should also be fitted. Try to get into the habit of keeping patio furniture away from the balustrades so children have nothing to assist them in climbing over.
It’s important that high quality materials are used on your outdoor deck and that it’s properly maintained. Popped nails and splinters can become serious safety hazards for anyone so looking after your deck and acting on these issues promptly can prevent many injuries.
5. A Healthy Treat
Trying to get children to eat fruit after grocery shopping can be a difficult task. Planting small fruit trees in your garden and encouraging them to pick ripe fruit to nibble on however, can create much more interest.
For smaller backyards, include dwarf fruit trees. They will be a better picking height for your children, look fantastic and won’t take up much room or require a lot of maintenance.
It’s a good idea to check the ingredients of the sprays you use on your fruit trees to make sure they are child friendly, or check with the nursery when you buy them. Tools and chemicals should always be kept out of reach from little hands and where possible, locked in the garden shed where they can only be accessed under supervision.
6. Adding a Little Imagination
The best thing about kids is they are super inventive and can create a game out of almost anything. To feed their imagination and to bring out your inner child, it’s important to incorporate a little magic in your outdoor area.
Fairy gardens can offer hours of entertainment, or for the boys a dinosaur garden is a great idea. Sculptures or mosaics can work with your design elements and also spark some interest in children’s minds.
Play equipment is good but also allow space for children to use their imaginations in free play. You don’t want too much open space though as this can also restrict play, create areas for hiding and exploring in too!
Where possible, it’s a great idea to ensure there is a soft surface under any play equipment to soften falls. Thick, soft lawn, sand or mulch can work perfectly for this.
Images purchased from stockfresh.com, used by permission.