We have three children in our household who love to be outdoors. It’s extremely hard for this gardener to sneak outside without someone tagging along. That’s a good thing! I’m thrilled that they love to be outside in the open air experiencing what all kids should have the opportunity to experience. It’s important though that the garden be a safe place for kids to experience the outdoors. Gardeners with children should take note of a few easy things that they can do to make their garden safe and enjoyable for their children!
5 Ways to Have a Child Friendly Garden
Ditch the synthetic pesticides and herbicides!
Synthetic pesticides and herbicides aren’t good for children to be around. The threat of an accidental poisoning is always present when you use these chemicals. Look for organic options that are not as dangerous. Vinegar as a herbicide may not be as effective of something with glyphosate but it won’t hurt you or your children. Boiling water works well to kill weeds and after cooling a few minutes it isn’t dangerous, it’s just water. The mechanical method for removing weeds is often the best! Companion planting is a great method to encourage beneficial insects to your garden to take care of the nasty ones! Often many of the plants used in companion planting can be used to make natural repellents to protect your plants.
Remove or avoid planting dangerous plants
Little kids are curious. When they wander around the garden and see a berry they may think it is something good to eat, but if it comes from a poisonous plant like a holly it could be dangerous. Look for alternatives to plant that aren’t poisonous for a safe garden. Pet owners would be wise to do the same kind of research as well. Many plants that aren’t harmful or dangerous for humans can be dangerous for our four legged friends.
Removing or avoid planting dangerous plants may be easier said than done in some cases! Our slope has wild blackberries that are hard to control. The birds spread the seeds all over the slope. Of course we enjoy eating them in the summer but the thorns can be tricky for the kids to work around. Thornless varieties of blackberries have been developed that are much safer for kid friendly gardens.
|My son after blackberry picking.|
If you must have your roses then plant them toward the middle of the garden bed beyond the reach of little arms. You could also erect fences along garden areas that contain dangerous plants to deter your children. A nice split rail fence can become an awesome trellis for climbing plants that may be more safe for your kids to be around. Of course it could also become a mechanism for climbing adventures…
Plant Fun and Educational Plants
Kids love the garden. They love the dirt on their hands and enjoying seeing stuff they can eat come out of the garden. Plant plants that your children can really get into like cherry tomatoes. Cherry tomatoes are like candy from the garden. Small, bite size, and sweet cherry tomatoes get devoured when my kids are outside. Sunflowers and beans can be planted in circle to create a hidden fort for the kids. Gourds on a trellis can do the same thing which may also provide bird house materials in the process for a project later on down the road. Older kids may love climbing the apple trees in the fall to help harvest the apples. The garden can create many positive memories for our children.
Create Play Areas
Play areas are essential! Whether you put in a big fancy playset to simply a little tree swing, kids need something to play on. If you don’t put something in they will find something to play with which may or may not be a good thing! Sandboxes or tables can be great in the garden for kids to play with since the sand they spill may actually help your soil become more porous.
Our garden has many different areas connected with pathways. The pathways themselves become places for the kids to run around and play, like a maze. Kids love a good maze for their adventures!
Lawn areas are great for kids to play games, sports, or just for a fun place to run around.
“Good fences make good neighbors” as Robert Frost wrote, but they also offer peace of mind for parents. Having a defined border around the yard and garden can keep kids inside and wandering animals and people out. Kids can can run around a play out their adventures and you will know that that stray dog won’t be coming to play too.
Kids should be out in the garden every chance they get so help your garden become a sanctuary where they can go and enjoy life outdoors!