One of the great benefits of gardening is that the whole family can participate. Even the smallest child enjoys digging in the dirt! But little ones are not always a low maintenance addition. They can uproot your favorite plant, get into pesticides and fertilizers, wander away and trim your prize rose bush quicker than you can wink an eye.
By carefully considering plants and materials for your garden, and practicing a few safety tips, you can have a landscape that is beautiful and safe for everyone to enjoy. Here are some helpful hints:
- Enclose your garden area. Fences are great for keeping toddlers in and unwanted visitors out. With chain-link, crimp the top barbs to prevent cuts, punctures, or injuries to the face. For wood fences, use dressed board for fewer splinters and be sure that nails are hammered in and screws tightened.
- The ground surface should be cushiony, like grass, and as level as possible to prevent trips and falls. For walkways, gravel and mulch are a good alternative to stone and brick, which can be uneven, hard, and slippery when wet.
- Beware of plants that are poisonous, especially those with poisonous berries – so tempting to little children. And save yourself from having to kiss a lot of scratches and dry a lot of tears, by saving the rose garden idea until the kids are older.
- Be very careful when using chemicals – many pesticides and fertilizers look like punch when mixed. Follow instructions carefully, use milder formulas where possible, and always keep chemicals stored out of reach of children.
- Garden tools can also be hazardous. Keep tools with you when working in the yard and store them out of reach of little hands.
There are other things to consider when you have little ones in the garden, such as water safety, insects, and, in East Texas, snakes. We can’t control all of them but we can work to make our gardens beautiful and safe for everyone.
Susie Barney, former Smith County Master Gardener
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service