The garden is a popular spot in the summer, particularly if you enjoy entertaining or have children. While guests hang out on the patio, your kids and their friends cartwheel in the grass, twirl on the swings, or jump into the paddling pool. The scent of grilled burgers and hotdogs fills the air as mosquitos cause annoyance and the dog waits for table scraps.
It’s an idyllic scene, and one that shatters all too easily. Gardens can contain many hazards, ranging from poisonous plants and pesticides to grills and lawn mowers. If left unattended, they can put guests, kids, pets, and your home itself at risk.
Fortunately, the dangers can be addressed and surmounted with the following checklist. Use it to improve garden safety so you can get back to BBQing, chatting, and playing your game of croquet.
Verify that Garden Plants and Supplies Are Out of Reach for Kids and Pets
A back garden can host any number of poisonous plants. While most cause only a rash or an upset stomach, some can be deadly to animals and young children. Oleanders, for instance, are very pretty but can be lethal.
Keep in mind that many lawn and garden products, like weed killers or pesticides, are also toxic. Toddlers, preschoolers, and even puppies get into things they shouldn’t, and that can include poisonous chemicals if they’re not stored properly.
You should do some research before planting any flowers or vegetables. If you choose to include toxic plants in your garden, secure them in elevated garden beds, and consider enclosing them with safety fencing.
When treating your lawn or garden with herbicides or pesticides, keep pets and kids indoors. Even if you use nontoxic pesticides and herbicides, you will want to play it safe by keeping an eye out and storing the chemicals in an area inaccessible your pets and children.
Check Your Patio for Structural Weaknesses
Wooden patio and deckings are very susceptible to water damage, which typically manifests as rotted and warped boards. Rot spreads quickly, and failing wood can splinter underfoot. Brick and stone patios also require upkeep, as missing grout or broken tiles can be tripping hazards.
Loose or missing railing slats can also prove dangerous for small children, especially if the patio area is raised.
Give your decking or patio regular maintenance treatments using a wooden seal or a brick & masonry sealer for stone. It’s also a good idea to invest in a deck guard as it can help keep children and small animals from getting through gaps in safety railings.
Practice Proper Safety around BBQs and Fire Pits
BBQ's produce divine scents and meals. It also the creator of a large number of home fires —
Safety issues can arise for a few different reasons.
Irregular cleaning and maintenance
Proximity to a flammable structure, such as a patio railing, fencing or trees
Gas or propane leaks
Lack of attention
Use of improper cooking utensils
Fire pits — even those not used for cooking — are also hazardous, especially those models that don’t have any real barrier around the open flame.
To address the safety concerns cited above, invest in a few BBQ and fire pit safety items. Aflame-resistant grill mat can help reduce outdoor cooking fires, while a fire pit cover or spark screen provide good defences for fire rings.
It’s also a good idea to purchase a portable fire extinguisher. If you’re not sure which class or type of extinguisher you need, check out the london fire brigade's top tips for more info - http://www.london-fire.gov.uk/BarbecueSafety.asp
Implement Specific Rules and Safety Measures for Pool Use
Not everyone can be lucky enough to have a swimming pool in their garden, but the same rules apply to swimming pools as they do to paddling pools. Pools can be a lot of fun, but they also require a little more effort to keep them safe. Without a gated fence around the pool, for instance, a cool summer soak can quickly become dangerous especially with young children.
Another hazard with paddling pools is the lack of supervision. If kids are diving in shallow areas, and if there’s no one supervising them as they play, the risk of injury or drowning goes up substantially.
Follow the Child Accident Prevention Trust's top tips http://www.capt.org.uk/safety-advice/keeping-your-child-safe-drowning. Ensure that there is always one adult supervising children playing in the pool. If there’s no adult to act as a lifeguard, the pool should be off-limits.
There are also a host of devices that can keep your pool safe whether it’s in use or not. Also consider the temperature of the weather on the day that you are using the pool, no one wants to catch a cold with our typical brisith summer!
Make Sure Playhouses and the Surrounding Areas Are Sturdy and Secure
Scraped knees are normal, but you should take steps to avoid serious playground-related injuries in the garden. Metal playground equipment, specifically slides and swings, can become extremely hot during the summer months. If your garden doesn’t cast natural shade over your playarea, it may get hot enough to cause burns.
Playsets can also host other hazards, too — bees or wasps might nest in the structure, loose bolts or railings can cause a fall, and the surrounding substrate may be spread too thin to provide much protection.
Do some prep work and maintenance every spring to keep your garden safe. First, set up an awning or playset canopy to keep the set out of the hot sun. Then, check the playset for insect nests — the creatures often build their homes in the playground’s pipes. Finally, look for rotten wood and bad bolts, and make the necessary repairs.
You may also want to replace the surrounding substrate, if needed. The ground under the swings and play equipment should be covered with at least 12 inches of wood chips to prevent an injury from a fall. Another option is Interlock Playground Tiles, which are more durable than wood chips
Use and Store Lawn Mowers and Other Power Tools Safely
Roughly 6,500 people are injured by power lawn mowers every year. Some of those instances are the result of improper handling — someone wears flip-flops or removes the safety guards to mow the lawn faster. Other accidents happen due to garden debris or rocks getting spun through the mower.
If the shed where you store your mower and other power tools isn’t secure, there’s also an increased risk that a child could get inside and hurt themselves on one of the gadgets, or someone getting into your shed and stealing your equipment!
The rule is simple when it comes to mowing and trimming the lawn: safety first. You should always wear closed-toe shoes, remove debris like rocks and branches from the yard prior to mowing, and keep pets and young kids away from where you’re working.
As for storage, lawn equipment should always be properly stowed and secured to thwart both curious kids and burglars.
Bring Home Security System Elements into the Garden
Home security systems often emphasize the inside of the home, featuring intruder alerts and interior video surveillance. However, the outside plays a pivotal role in ensuring end-to-end security as well.
Your garden is your first line of defence, as well as a potential target. Poorly lit areas can provide good cover for intruders, and an unmonitored garden provides easy access to would-be burglars.
Other ordinary backyard fixtures, like paddlng pools and sheds, can also become accident sites if they aren’t properly secured.
Invest in a security and lighting system — motion-activated lights are ideal. Include motion detectors near any paddling pools or storage areas, so that you can know as soon as someone gets near those areas. Also speak to our security consultant on tips you can take to ensure your garden is secure - request a free quote here - http://www.hensonsecurity.com/#!survey/jwq7h
Take Care of Any Weak Tree Branches
In the winter, ice, wind, and snow can wreak havoc on tree limbs and roofs. When summer comes, those dead and weak limbs are especially susceptible to temperature changes, meaning they could drop without much warning. Children playing on a swing or in a tree house could be endangered by those falling branches.
To keep your home and family safe, either care for the trees yourself or hire a landscaper of gardener.
If you choose to do the tree trimming yourself, you will want to invest in the proper equipment, like a pole tree pruner or a chainsaw. You should also purchase a safety harness and reliable ladder if the trees you’re trimming are particularly tall.
In the event that you’re unfamiliar with how to safely use and maintain the tools needed to trim trees yourself, pay for a landscaping service. It can be expensive, but a professional can do the work quickly, efficiently, and safely.
A garden has many moving parts when it comes to safety, but you can keep track of them all with this checklist. Use the above solutions to address any security concerns, and you’ll soon have the best — and safest — garden on the street and hopefully one of the most memorable summers to date!