Creating fun and safe backyard landscapes for kids
Having an attractive landscape is one thing; watching your kids enjoy it is another experience altogether. Whether your family home contains a yard large or small, it’s important to let children enjoy the outdoor space as much as you do. From imaginative sandboxes to secret gardens, a backyard holds unlimited potential for play and creativity. Still, even if providing a fun and safe environment is a major priority, you should not have to sacrifice aesthetic refinement. Play features can be seamlessly integrated into a landscape, just as accident-proof hardscaping can contribute to a delightful overall design. Show your children you care by cultivating a backyard space to fill them with wonder, laughter, and joy – all while keeping both them—and your landscape’s beauty—protected.
Safety First: Essentials for a Kid-Friendly Backyard
While it’s easy to put on a child’s thinking cap and recall what we once longed for in our backyards, it’s crucial to be practical. Lay down guidelines before implementing any large-scale landscaping project and stick to them. Not only will this guarantee a safe environment right from the planning stages, but set your mind at ease long after completion.
Designate Play Areas
As you plan your landscape design, think about which areas would be best suited for child’s play. How much of your backyard can you afford to section off for yard games? Which corner of the property would be conducive to swing set adventures, yet remain within viewing range from your main home? Designating play areas ahead of time is paramount because it gives you a sense of where your children will be, even when unaccompanied. Teach your children, too, what areas are and aren’t “off-limits.” For instance: “never go near the pool area without grownups” or, “digging is OK in the sandpit, but not in the garden beds!” Educating your kids about respect for the landscape and personal safety serves a dual purpose, for it keeps them from harm while instilling wholesome values for growth and development.
Safety Hazards 101
Maintaining a kid-friendly landscape requires attention to details beyond just form and function. From play structures to garden beds, the occasional scraped knee or bruised elbow are always possibilities. However, more serious injuries are easily preventable with smart planning.
Make sure backyard playgrounds are free from protruding or weak bolts, deteriorating boards, or loose guardrails. Cover landing areas with soft, shock-absorbing materials, such as mulch or sand. In addition, keep structure heights reasonable, using the general rule that a child should climb no higher in feet than they are years old. If your landscape design features treated wood, as in the forms of picnic tables or fences, use a home kit to test for arsenic, a carcinogenic chemical; if test results come in positive, replace the wood or seal it annually.
If you partake in lawn or garden work, exercise diligence to ensure all equipment is stored properly and safely. Just as you wouldn’t leave kitchen knives or matches lying around your home’s interior, powerful lawn movers and garden shears should not be carelessly neglected on your landscape. If you don’t already have one, build a storage shed or garage to store your garden and lawn tools, and employ a lock or designate the area off-limits to children. Furthermore, avoid using harmful chemicals in your yard or garden, as well as poisonous or potentially injurious plants, such as thorn bushes. Be advised that many common plants are toxic, so do your research before planting in areas your kids are prone to run, jump, hide, or lay in.
Build Protection Right into Family Areas
Creating a fun and safe backyard for kids doesn’t mean just exercising caution in play zones, but in areas of the landscape the whole family enjoys. Incorporate protection into your kid-friendly landscape without forfeiting your overall design vision.
Harness the Protective Versatility of Pavers
While occasional backyard injuries are inevitable, measures can be taken to prevent trips and falls, beginning with your hardscaping. Most pavers are specifically manufactured to be skid- and slip-resistant, making them a top choice for patios, pool decks, and pathways. Known for their durability, concrete pavers will stand up well against running, bouncing, and crawling without cracking. Moreover, if a piece does become stained or damaged, repair is as simple as removing the broken paver and replacing it. Remarkably, pavers keep kid-safety in check while allowing for endless design options. Use them to captivate friends and family with a Mediterranean-themed patio or a serene poolside getaway while keeping the kids out of harm’s way. For more inspiration for your outdoor design, check out the Unilock catalog here.
Fence Your Pool
Pool safety is no joke, as drowning is a leading cause of death for children under five. Eliminate the risk of pool accidents by placing a fence at least four feet high around your pool’s perimeter and include a self-closing gate whose latches are well out of small children’s reach. Consider installing a pool alarm that rings each time anyone enters or exits the pool area. If you are worried a fence will disrupt your pool’s aesthetic, keep in mind that these protective barriers come in a range of materials and styles, and can actually lend a striking design element – not to mention privacy – to your backyard. Always check with your local building department for laws on pool safety and construction.
Supervision Spots or Landscape Features?
Giving kids a backyard space of their own is important, but proper supervision is imperative. Place rustic stone benches within viewing distance of your children’s “secret” play garden, or design a raised patio space that overlooks the whole backyard. Lay an interesting paver pattern near play structures to incorporate a visually striking surveillance area right into the landscape. Make room for play, safety, and artistic taste by thinking creatively, because there is no reason you should not be able to enjoy an elegant adult garden party while the kids run on the lawn.
By cultivating a child-friendly landscape, you will keep your kids healthy, entertained, and safe without having to leave the home. Give your children a unique space of their own that coheres well with the overall landscape design.