Kids benefit hugely from being outside exploring and getting absolutely filthy - what better place to start than the garden as a first taste of the great outdoors? But, first, let’s make sure it’s childproof…
As a general rule, it’s best to discourage children from ever tasting any garden berry or leaf that they aren't sure of. Too many jewel-like berries can seem tempting to hungry hands.. and sometimes the more tasty they look, the more dangerous they are!
For example, the black cherry fruits of a potato plant could easily be mistaken for dark red tomatoes. Or, how about the shiny red berries of the yew, which can appear like the cutest piece of candy, but are actually highly toxic. Take some time to get to know the plants in your garden (even the ones spread by birds pooping!) so you know which ones pose a risk.
Yew berries - it is the seed inside that is toxic, but the whole tree is dangerous.
Ouch! Keep inquisitive fingers off your prized plants and you’ll save some tears too! Even the most friendly-looking of plants could have under-leaf spines and prickles.
Nettles are a common sight on woodland and countryside walks, and can easily cause a fast-appearing rash. Soothe any nettle sting with a cold compress, and whatever you do, don't scratch it or you’ll make it worse (I hear the echo of my mother’s voice here!)
No matter how shallow your garden pond is, water can pose a risk to children running wild in the garden. Erect a small, decorative picket fence to add a garden feature as well as some practical sensibility.
A net across the pond will also add some safety measures, as well as protect any animals who are also running lose in your garden!
Protect the garden from the kids!
Think about how football-proof your garden is! That net will also save footballs splashing into the pond, but you can also plant up some tough shrubs which will bounce back from the occasional ‘own goal’!
But, you can have fun in the garden too! Why not take some time out with the children to create a fairy garden or a ‘garden on a plate, with miniature materials collected from around the garden? Or, you could pick some flowers and create a collage or a posy of flowers.
The key to garden safety is to be there with your child, to teach them about it, and to get them to appreciate and love it the way that you do!