Keeping Kids and Pets Safe in the Garden

One of my favorite things about our house (when we were in the process of purchasing it) was the fact that it already had a sweet little garden area in the backyard. It’s in the perfect spot, and it’s even surrounded by a little picket fence! I just KNOW this coming Spring I’ll finally get some veggies growing in there!

Actually, it’s not just us – many families want an outdoor area or a garden when they buy or rent a home. A decent-sized garden will make a property more expensive, but if you have children and pets, it’s a godsend. After all, as any parent knows, keeping children and exuberant dogs entertained in a flat is pretty much impossible. With a nice garden, you can let the kids and animals play outside all day long when the weather is nice. They can kick a ball around, dig holes, and boost their Vitamin D levels. Pets also benefit from having an outdoor toilet!

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Safety is an important consideration when looking for a home with a garden. A large outdoor space is not enough if you can’t let your kids and pets play outdoors without close supervision. This is always the case unless you live in a remote area. But even then, you might not want younger children and dogs roaming freely in case they get into trouble. There are always dangers present, so it is wise to take protective measures if you want your family to stay safe.

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Use the following strategies to keep your kids and pets safe in the garden.

Protect the Boundary

Not all gardens have a fence or wall, and even if they do, this might not be enough to keep pets and kids in – and intruders out. If your perimeter is low or non-existent, it is time to erect a new one. A wall made from bricks, blocks, or stone is the most permanent, but it is also the most expensive way to mark your boundaries. Older properties are very likely to have walls around the garden, but newer properties tend to have fences instead.

Timber fence panels are cost-effective. In most cases, 6-foot fence panels will be more than sufficient to keep children in. 6×6 fence panels are also suitable for most dogs, although some agile breeds are capable of jumping over a 6-foot fence if they have enough space to take a run at it. If you do own a large breed, bear this in mind. If you are concerned that a dog or human will have no problem scaling a 6-foot fence, fix an extra panel of trellis to the top of the fence. This lets light through but deters intruders and pets.

Buy good quality fencing if you want it to last. If you want to erect a more permanent barrier, look for treated timber 6-foot x 6-foot fence panels which you can find through a reputable supplier such as Buy Fencing Direct who have over 30 different options on sale. Fix them to concrete posts and treat with a wood protector at least once a year if you want your fencing to remain in good condition.

Metal fencing is another option. Metal panels are less attractive than timber, but metal is sturdy and capable of withstanding the weather better than timber. It is also unlikely to get burned down, which is a problem with wooden fencing. If you don’t care about privacy, chain-link fencing is an option. This lets light through and plants can use it as a climbing trellis. Don’t forget this is a two-way process, though. Weeds and other undesirables will work their way through very easily.

Install a Gate

Installing a fence is pointless if your gate is non-existent or useless. Gates should always be secure, as they are the main entry point into and out of your garden. A latch is not secure at all, so add an extra lock and perhaps a couple of bolts, one at the top and another at the bottom. If you live in an area where garden theft is common, have a secure metal gate fitted.

Beware of Digging Pets

Some pets love to dig. They are more than happy to spend hours digging a hole under a fence in a bid to escape from the garden. Keep a close eye on your pets. Dogs and rabbits are the main offenders, but wild animals may also dig their way into your garden in search of a tasty snack, aka your rabbit.

To prevent tunnelling excavation activities, fix wire mesh along the edge of the fence. Ideally, it should be buried at least one foot into the ground, but preferably more if your pet loves to dig. It also helps if you plant a hedge along the perimeter, as this will deter digging activities.

Provide Shelter

Kids will come inside when it rains, or when the sun is too hot, but pets may not have that luxury if they have been left home alone. If you do plan to leave your dog out in the garden while you are at work or away from the home, make sure he has shelter. An outdoor kennel is fine as long as it is well insulated. If you don’t want to invest in an outdoor kennel, build some kind of shelter and put a bed inside so that your pet has somewhere dry to lie when it rains. Otherwise, leave a shed open so they can take shelter.

Watch Out for Poisonous Plants

This section is applicable to children and pets. Not all plants are harmless. Some are actually very poisonous, and you may have plants growing in your garden that are deadly without you having a clue. Some good examples of common garden plants that are poisonous include hydrangeas, rhododendron, Lily of the Valley, and foxgloves. If you are not sure what you have growing in the garden, visit the library and pick up an encyclopaedia of common garden plants. Make it a game. See how many plants the kids can identify. Once you have figured out what’s growing in the garden, either warn the kids not to touch/eat them or dig them up if there is any chance your warnings will go unheeded or your pets will eat them.

Lastly, watch out for nails, sharp objects, and the most serious danger found in gardens: ponds. If you do have a pond in the garden, this should be assessed as a major risk all on its own.

While an outdoor space can be a fantastic blessing for a growing family, safety is of utmost importance. How do you protect your kids and/or your pets when they’re functioning in your outdoor space?

Due to the amount of comments from all of my wonderful readers, it is not always possible for me to respond to each one. However, I absolutely do read them all, and if you’d like to address something specific, or have a question for me, please don’t hesitate to email me at Kristen@theroadtodomestication.com. I will respond to your email as soon as possible! Thank you for visiting the blog!

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