Having children can put even the least anxious individual’s nerves on edge, with a seemingly never-ending barrage of dangers lurking everywhere, even in your own home. An outdoor space provides its own particular set of challenges, but can easily be made into a safe and fun place for little ones to get out their energy if a few considerations are taken first. Before you give your kids free reign in the back yard, be sure to make your outdoor space child-friendly by following these outdoor design tips:
One of the easiest ways to make your outdoor space safer in no time is by fencing it in. While you may find that fenced-in yards are a commonplace in cities where homes are built side-by-side, like Chicago and New York, in more suburban and rural areas, there’s often little to protect your children from getting out. Adding a fence with a latch that’s just out of your little ones’ reach can help keep them safe while giving you peace of mind. Two issues parents often fail to consider when choosing fencing are height and durability, but they’re important to keep in mind; instead of shelling out a huge amount of money for a fence that will get damaged the first time a tricycle crashes into it, buy one made from the most durable material you can afford, whether that means heavy-duty wood or wrought iron. Likewise, buy a fence that’s taller than you think you need; while the idea of putting up a tall fence may not seem necessary at first, a baseball hit over the fence could cause your kids to try to retrieve it from less-than-safe yards or the street. Fortunately, unless you have a MLB player in the making, a six-foot fence should usually suffice.
Your outdoor space may be predominantly used by your kids, but the look of a toy-cluttered yard can be enough to drive anyone a bit crazy. Give your kids plenty of space to store their outdoor accessories, whether in the form of a shed or toy box, and you can keep your yard clean and clutter-free. Just make sure that when you choose storage options, you prioritize safety as much as style; heavy wooden toy boxes and hard-to-open hinged doors can present opportunities for little ones to injure themselves, so opt for soft-close boxes and doors with enough clearance above the ground to allow them to swing freely.
A gusty wind or rough-and-tumble game of tag can turn your yard into a disaster zone in no time. When you’re choosing furniture for your outdoor space, keep this in mind, and either secure your pieces with stakes and furniture anchors or buy tip-resistant sets made of sturdy materials, like wrought iron. For maximum safety, opt for a set of kid-size furniture that you can easily store in a shed or crawl space should the weather take a turn for the worse.
Children are often drawn to a home’s electrical components like moths to a flame, but keeping them away can mean the difference between a safe yard and one that’s ridden with peril. If you’re having any exterior lighting installed, make sure any switches or sockets are installed well out of your child’s reach. Choosing locking outlet covers can also make a major difference in the safety of your play space; not only do plastic outlet covers prevent your plugs from getting wet in case of inclement weather, they also keep little ones from accidentally unplugging lights or trying to explore the outlet itself. If you’re eager to make your outdoor space safer both day and night, opt for some motion sensor-activated exterior lights, too; they can light your path and prevent slips and falls at when you’re arriving home after dark, alert you to trespassers, or let you know when the neighbor’s dog has made its way into your yard.
It’s much easier to give your kids parent-approved places to play than it is to keep them away from the places you don’t want them to have access to. Instead of trying to corral them your children from less-than-kid-safe areas, give them plenty of their own space to explore and they’ll be less likely to try to get into trouble. For very young children, a playpen that can be staked into the ground can offer a safe place to crawl or cruise without getting injured. For older kids, setting up a playhouse or tent in the back yard can make even a limited amount of space feel like a private oasis.
You don’t have to completely re-do your outdoor space to make it safe and fun for your children, but making it the best play space for your family does take some preparation. Implementing a few changes to your existing space, whether that means adding fencing or keeping electrical outlets out of your kids’ reach, can make your outdoor space the perfect, worry-free playground for little ones and parents alike.