It's always good to take a few simple precautions when designing your garden so that it's safe for kids. After all, youngsters are prone to roam, climb, crawl, and put things in their mouths that they definitely shouldn't!
We've enlisted the help of garden designer and author of 101 Things For Kids To Do Outside, Dawn Isaac, to advise anyone wanting to child-proof their outdoor space for summer.
Choose grass or wood
Dawn says: "There is little to beat grass when it comes to toddlers – it’s soft and natural. Similarly, wooden surfaces are more forgiving than stone, but I would only ever add them on very sunny south-facing gardens as they will become dangerous and slippery in shady areas. Gravel or chippings are best avoided as toddlers are likely to pop stones in their mouths."
Think about artificial grass
Haven't considered artificial grass? It has its pros! Dawn herself is a fan – "Not only is it a soft surface, but it’s also low maintenance; a huge benefit when you’re busy with small children. You can install a safety surface underneath to help cushion falls and this is a grass that won’t sulk if it’s in a shady area or under trees."
Include safe water features
Dawn says: "Most parents would rather be without a pond – after all, we have enough to worry about without adding to our stress list. However, kids do love water so it’s worth including it in some way."
While there's no need to, ahem, splash out on an actual pool, a simple sprinkler or paddling pool can provide hours of summer holiday joy.
Avoid toxic plants
Dawn says: "If you have babies and young toddlers then you'll know that they explore the world by putting things in their mouths. Because of this, we have to watch them closely and many parents would feel safer having nothing remotely toxic or poisonous in their garden. It's important to teach children to be careful in the garden – to never put anything in their mouth before they check with a grown-up and to always wash their hands after they’ve been playing in the garden. This approach means they are equally savvy when out in nature or in someone else’s garden who may be less child-aware with their planting. Having said that there are one or two plants which are so toxic I would never plant them – laburnum and monkshood for example."
If you're teaching your kids to help out in the garden, you can get them their own plastic plant pot or their own bucket and spade and they'll love getting stuck in with planting and nurturing their plants.
Encourage your kids to explore
Dawn says: "Make sure they have spaces of their own – preferably at least partly hidden from grown-up view where they can create their own worlds with their imaginations. It doesn’t need to be anything special, my own children took over a small dark area behind the shed and turned it into a secret den; far more exciting than the carefully painted playhouse a few feet away!"