Child-Friendly Garden: 5 Ways to Create One
Our addiction to smartphones and reliance on the internet is very much part of life in the 21st century. A recent study by the market researcher Childwise highlighted how children aged between five and sixteen spend on average six and a half hours a day in front of a digital screen. That’s around three and a half hours more than the same age group did in 1995!
These dramatic changes in habits often leads to speculation between the growing rate of obesity in children, which has tripled since the mid-1970s.
With virtual experiences often trumping the great outdoors, it’s our duty as parents to get creative with nature to help bridge the gap between indoor and outdoor playtime. Your garden is arguably the best place to start, so we’ve come up with a list of three ways to turn your backyard into a child-friendly garden:
A Tree House
Many childhood dreams include an adventurous space to call their own, so if you have the room and a suitable tree in your backyard, why not build a tree house?
While a ladder up to the house is probably the most practical use of space, an add-on slide is a great way of adding an additional element of fun. Extras such as bird box and a pulley-rope system for a bucket are also simple ways of keeping their attention.
It’s wise to keep items such as coloring books, puzzles, board games, and novels inside of the house, as it will encourage your child to spend more time there. Just make sure to hide the tablet if your aim of the game is to reduce screen time!
Recent design trends have seen the disappearance of lawns in gardens as a way of making them easier to maintain.
From a kid’s point of view, however, the lawn is the lifeblood of the garden. It’s where they’re free to play sports, dance around, and generally get a little bit grubby. Take all that away, and you take the fun out of the garden.
Besides, there’s also a logical reason for choosing a lawn as well – they’re much more practical for preventing injuries as grass provides a softer ground for toppling over.
3. A Large Hammock
Loved by children and parents alike, the perfect lounging summer evening in a hammock is arguably one of the best ways to spend your time. When fitted in a shaded area between two trees, a hammock can suddenly become a relaxing oasis to unwind.
To make this extra child safe, ensure the space between the hammock and the ground is about a metre or so so they can get off and on safely.
4. A Vegetable Patch
A great way to engage your children in gardening is by giving them their own vegetable patch, especially as an activity you can enjoy together during the school holidays. Begin by choosing your fruit and veggies based on the space and available sunlight in your garden as there will be different requirements for each. If you’re worried about your child losing interest quickly, keep a supply of decorations nearby, such as pebbles and driftwood fencing, which they can use to decorate their patch. A miniature watering can will also help keep them engaged and enjoying the fruits of your labor.
5. A Sensory Section
A part of the child-friendly garden devoted to color, sound, smell, and touch is guaranteed to intrigue young children.
How far you want to go with this theme is entirely up to you, but to get your creative juices flowing, we’ve created some ideas to go with each sense.
Colorful windmills, metallic decorations, and hanging kites and/or lanterns will quickly catch your child’s eye.
Building a D.I.Y sound wall using pots, pans, and hanging dustbin lids is one noisy way to keep your child entertained outdoors. If you’d prefer something a little more peaceful, consider using wind chimes in your child-friendly garden instead.
Lavender and geraniums are two aromatic plants that are easy to maintain, so planting them in or around the sensory section of your garden is a smart idea.
Grass or artificial turf on its own can get a little boring, so try to mix in brightly colored hanging plastics and some creatively laid out pebble flooring to add some extra textures.