Despite all appearances, warmer weather is on its way. In no time at all, you’ll be putting away your snow shovels and bringing out the barbecue grill and kiddie pool. Before sending your children and pets out free-ranging, you’ll want to take some steps now to thwart any dangers that may be lurking in your yard. Here are six things to do now to assure your yard will be safe (and fun!) for your children and pets.
Survey your yard for possible hazards. Scour the ground for anything that could present a danger, like broken glass, bottle caps, pointy sticks, protruding pipes, old containers of fertilizer—you get the picture. Check for holes and low areas that might become puddles after the rain (young children can drown in less than two inches of water), and be on the lookout for fire ant mounds (ouch!). If you’ve got piles of firewood or lumber, be sure to stack them away from play areas. Not only are piles of wood tempting to play on, but they’re easy to topple, and they attract spiders, snakes, and rodents.
Get raking! Sure, you may have already raked in the fall, but do it again! Deep raking removes grass blades that died over the winter, leading to bare, rough patches in your lawn, as well as grass blades that got stuck together over the winter, which can prevent new grass from growing. Summertime is all about playing in the grass, so the more you do now to prevent bare, rough patches, the better!
Check out your play equipment. Make sure your kids’ play equipment is deeply anchored in the ground and free from any splinters. Also, give it a once-over for any creepy crawler hangouts or nests. If you have a sandbox, hopefully, it’s completely covered so that animals and other pests cannot enter it. Even so, you’ll want to give the sand a good raking to remove any debris, clumps, or foreign material that could cause harm.
Do an inventory of all trees, shrubs, and plants. It’s best to do this in wintertime when trees are barren. You’ll easily be able to spot any damaged trees with dangling dead branches. Instead of waiting for disaster to strike, schedule to have your trees trimmed or removed. Also, familiarize yourself with deadly garden plants. While some of these are beautiful, they can cause death if swallowed.
Repair or tighten railings and steps. According to the Centers for Disease Control, an estimated 8,000 children are sent to emergency rooms every day due to falls. Stairs are like a magnet for little ones, so you’ll want to take a careful inventory of all your outdoor steps and railings.
Consider your method of lawn care and weed control. Fall and early spring are the best times to fertilize your yard. Not all lawn chemicals are created equal though. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says that Americans apply 90 million pounds of pesticides and herbicides every year in order to get lush green yards. Some medical professionals, like a professor of pediatrics at New York’s Mount Sinai Hospital, believe these chemicals can stay in your body for decades. These chemicals can also be very harmful to pets. You may want to consider organic lawn care services in your area or try out natural alternatives yourself.
One of the best gifts you can give your little ones is a safe space to play outdoors. This is a place to roughhouse, explore, and to let their imaginations soar! By following the tips above, your yard will be child- and pet-ready as your household comes out of hibernation, and you’ll be so glad you took care of all these issues in advance. Bring on the badminton set, lemonade, and summer!
Guest Post by Clara Beaufort. Clara is a retired business owner who currently works in community gardening. She operates GardenerGigs, which aims to connect local gardeners with those who need them.