Encouraging the next generation to get outdoors and into gardens is important. Time in nature can be beneficial for lots of reasons, not least the break from a digital world, and the chance to nurture the mental health of children, a topic for which there’s been a growing awareness in recent years.
So, if you have little ones and want to ensure that your garden is safe and secure, here are some key things to consider. We’ve also included some tips to help entice children into spending time outside and growing and harvesting their own crops and plants.
Outdoor space can be safe and fun but it’s important to plan your garden well to avoid accidents. You want to feel safe letting children explore whilst ensuring they can enjoy and embrace their sense of freedom and adventure.
If you have a pond in your garden, consider whether you need to add a fence. Anyone can get in to trouble in just a few inches of water, so even a deep bucket or trug of water, if left unattended, can be dangerous to a small person. Here’s it’s useful to talk about the risks of water with children too so they know to keep their distance if there’s not a grown up nearby.
If there are other areas of your garden which present some hazards think about how to create a barrier around where they can and can’t play. Fencing can be imaginative and attractive - hazel or willow woven options are beautiful yet robust, and a simple hedge with a wire fence behind works wonderfully too.
Check your plants
Those with berries such as yew could present an issue if little fingers get hold of them. Again, this offers a good opportunity to educate your child about not touching or eating anything outside which they aren’t familiar with or haven’t checked out with an adult first.
Enjoy the space
Once safety is covered you can turn to filling your garden with plenty of plants and activities that will keep children entertained:
It can be useful to dedicate a particular space to children’s play or any equipment you want to include. You can then leave some space for sitting, eating and watching so you can keep a close eye on what’s happening whilst enjoying some adult space. Think about steppingstones to link areas and keep things fun for children.
If your garden includes an established tree you might want to include a swing or rope for play. An empty border might be a great place for a mud kitchen. A patch of turf can work as the base for a pop-up tent, den or tipi. Keeping things simple can be a great option – children just need space rather than elaborate climbing frames!
The opportunity to grow plants and flowers is a fundamental part of any child friendly garden. There’s plenty of scope for planting, watering and watching what comes up. Whether it’s just a simple sunflower in a pot, their own border or a bigger raised bed, the opportunities to nurture and grow are wonderful. And if you choose to plant fruit and veg with them the time will come when they can harvest and eat what they’ve grown!
Gardens offer a great learning opportunity for children and introducing a bug hotel (which they could build), hedgehog house, bird bath and feeders can encourage wildlife which then creates the chance to stop and spot insects, birds and other creatures – and learn how to identify different ones.
Choose the right materials
Gardens should be enjoyable and accessible for those of any age, including children. Encouraging them into these important outdoor spaces gives them time to play, create and learn, and ensures they become the gardeners of tomorrow!
Help inspire your children with Earth Cycle
If you are planning on putting together a child-friendly garden, Earth Cycle has plenty of products available to help. From bark to turf, tools to potting compost, we have everything to help you create a wonderful outdoor area for your little ones.