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How to Create a Child-Friendly Garden

Updated on July 15, 2012
Brother and sister loves gardening
Brother and sister loves gardening | Source

All You Need to Know to Create a Garden Suitable for Children

What children want from a garden is often very different to what adults want. While parents wish for comfortable garden furniture and a vegetable patch, children would like to play in the mud, climb trees, play hide and seek and let off steam. The garden is a place where children learn about nature and play in the fresh air as part of a healthy lifestyle.

The Child-Friendly Garden

Here are some suggestions of things to think about if you want to create a child-friendly garden. Small children happily play in sandpits, digging and making sand castles. Sandpits should be placed near to the house so that they can easily be seen, but not so near that they drag the sand through the house! The box should be big enough for several children and a big sand castle. Ideally, it should have a lid or cover over it so that the next-door neighbor's cat cannot use it as a litter tray! A sunny location which offers shade in the summer is the best site to place a sandpit. Open garden ponds and water butts can be dangerous for preschool children, so when planning your garden, avoid these features. However, your sandpit can be converted into a pond when the children are older and no longer use it.

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Gardening for Older Children

Older children don't like to be kept under watchful observation as they like to have their own space. Create a child-friendly garden for them by reserving a corner with offers a screen, for example using summer lilac. In this corner, you could have heaps of earth, wood, stones and other materials for exploration. You could also build a hut or tree house from branches. Fruit trees are good for this since they can also provide fruit. When children are older, the space can be used for a summer house or glasshouse.

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Plants appropriate for a child-friendly garden

There are some very toxic plants that should not be included in a garden for children - find out at your local garden center. Additionally, there are some plants that closely resemble edible fruits but in fact are not; the hedge cherry is an example. You should not necessarily exclude these plants from your garden, as they can be valuable educational tools. Teach your children that these fruits are for the birds and provide alternatives that they can eat, such as raspberries, blackberries, currants, pears and hazelnuts. These can be nibbled from repeatedly and are hardy enough to continue producing fruits. Playground plants should be able to withstand child's play. Choose deep rooted, robust and fast growing plants such as burdock, sagebrush, ferns and goldenrod - these will also add some decorative value to the garden. If your property borders a busy street, it is sensible to shield the garden from the street by planting high hedges so that when your children are playing ball games, the ball does not end up in the road. If you leave gaps in your shrubbery, children can use them for hiding places when they play hide and seek.

The seeds are extremely resinous and should not be eaten. The fruit seed should not be eaten, and cherries should not be given to pets as they can cause diarrhea.
The seeds are extremely resinous and should not be eaten. The fruit seed should not be eaten, and cherries should not be given to pets as they can cause diarrhea. | Source

Gardening with children

Allocate a small piece of your vegetable patch to your children. Quick growing and productive vegetables can be sown here, including radish, mustard and cress, late courgettes, or broccoli. Teach your children to recognize different weeds from the plants so that they can be responsible for the maintenance of their patch. Beans are also a good crop to grow. Arrange some bean poles in the shape of a wigwam - leaving one side open so that the beans can still be accessed and harvested when the bean plants become thicker. If you also sow nasturtiums around your bean poles, you will have plants there from May onwards. If you remove everything before the first winter frosts, your vegetable patch becomes a nice place for a campfire (incidentally this is also very good for the soil and promotes fertility for next year's vegetable patch).

Plants will grow abundantly in the summer. Watering the plants can be turned into a game to help teach your children to look after the plants carefully. When the leaves fall in autumn, the fallen foliage can also be used in games, and when the time comes to remove it all from the garden, why not organize a wheelbarrow rally.

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Children and the protection of animals in the garden

Children find animals in the garden especially exciting. You can help to create an animal-friendly garden as well as create a child-friendly garden by choosing shrubs, like summer lilac, and other plants that will attract insects such as butterflies. You can also help your child to create their own animal homes. Build nesting boxes with your children and create new breeding places for birds. Wood with various sizes of holes in it will serve as a nesting place for many insects. A stone heap is suitable for lizards, sloworms and toads; so too is a small wood pile. Brushwood and heaps of foliage can make ideal homes for hedgehogs as they hibernate during the winter. Bird feeding stations are another good opportunity to attract various birds in to your garden - make sure that they are visible from a window so that you can enjoy watching them, but make sure they are high enough to keep birds away from cats.

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    • moiragallaga profile imageAUTHOR

      Moira Garcia Gallaga 

      7 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

      Thank you so much!

    • Elissa Joyce profile image

      Elissa Joyce 

      7 years ago from US

      Hi moiragallaga, Great Hub! Thanks

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