The sun is out and it’s time to play. Struggling to get your children away from the TV and out into the garden? Our tips for a child-friendly garden might help.
Sandpits, mud kitchens and swings tend to be popular with younger children. Older ones usually love trampolines. However, the play doesn’t have to be restricted to set areas of your garden. Stepping stones through a lawn or wildflower patch can keep toddlers entertained for hours, as can a tub of water and a mini watering can. Trees can be great for climbing (you could even add some extra handholds). And what child doesn’t love making a den with an old sheet or cardboard boxes?
Time for quiet
Children need spaces to be quiet and calm too. A swinging egg chair can be the perfect spot to curl up with a book. And a hammock is ideal for daydreaming in, whether you’re seven or 70. Try to make sure there are shady spots to help protect children on hot days.
Children aren’t exactly known for their patience, so they tend to prefer sowing fast-growing plants. Sunflowers are a good choice, as it’s fun to see how high they’ve grown each week. You could also try growing fruit and vegetables. Who knows, that might even nudge your child into trying some new food (we can’t promise any miracles here). Check www.freestuff.co.uk/gardening-freebies for free seeds and growing packs. You can invest in pretty pots and children’s gardening tools if you want, but yoghurt pots and an old spoon will do the trick just as well.
A string of solar-powered lights, a couple of pretty plants and some old toys can quickly turn an unloved patch or large plant pot into a fairy garden. You could also let your child use washable chalks on your patio to create a racing track for their cars or fields for their toy animals.
It’s good for children to learn about caring for other creatures. Why not attract butterflies, bees and other pollinators into your garden with nectar-rich flowers? Bring the birds in with seeds, a birdbath and places to nest. If you’re looking for a craft project, you could help your child to build a bug hotel, bee house or bird feeder.
- Lock garden shears, secateurs and other garden tools in a shed or lockable box.
- If your children are very young, you might want to avoid poisonous plants.
- Keep thorny, prickly plants away from the front of a border and children’s play areas.
- Teach children about safety (e.g. not to eat any berries before checking with you).
- Fit a grate over ponds.
- Check that your water butt has a secure lid.
- Pop ping-pong balls on bamboo canes and other pointy plant supports.
- Make sure gates can be bolted shut out of reach of little hands.