One of the great responsibilities of owning your own home is the maintenance and upkeep of your lawn and landscaping. Especially important is caring for your backyard; while not usually seen from the street, the backyard is often a center of activity for adults and children alike. Especially for families with children, the backyard provides a convenient and customizable playground; therefore, ensuring your backyard is free of any hazardous materials is essential. Here are some tips to make your backyard a safe and healthy place to play.
Clear the area
This may seem obvious, but it bears repeating: don’t leave old appliances, broken-down cars, or other dangerous items in your backyard. Children can easily injure themselves on such objects or, worse yet, become trapped in them, leading to serious consequences. Large appliances, broken lawn mowers, and other non-working items should be safely disposed of before allowing your children to play in your backyard.
Build a fence
Enclosing your backyard provides a measure of privacy and security. If your home has a direct exit into the backyard, then locking the gate to the backyard can prevent strangers from entering your children’s play area. A sturdy fence also serves as a boundary for your children, letting them know exactly where they are allowed to play, and what areas are “out of bounds” to them.
Childproof the equipment
A variety of playground equipment is available for installation in your backyard. Choosing the right one for your children’s needs is largely a matter of personal preference. However, rubber or plastic swings are preferable to ones with wooden seats, and playground equipment that is secured with concrete footers is less likely to tip or overturn than unsecured playsets. Whatever playground equipment you choose, make sure you provide a shock-absorbing layer of protection underneath. Sand or mulch can be used, if a depth of nine to twelve inches is applied. Rubber mats expressly designed for this purpose are also available at many home improvement stores. Make sure you examine the equipment thoroughly after it is installed, and cover any bolts or screws that stick out to protect your children from scratches.
Drain, cover, and fence your swimming pool
For your family’s safety, it’s vital that you limit access to the swimming pool area except when adult supervision is present. Many municipalities require that unattended private swimming pools be secured; this usually means fencing it in and locking it when it is not in use. Never let your children swim alone, even for an instant. It only takes a few minutes for an unsupervised child to drown.
Provide open spaces
Make sure you leave enough room for children to run freely. This usually means at least fifty square feet of bare lawn, enough room to kick a football, throw a softball, or toss a Frisbee. Without room to run and play, children won’t enjoy the backyard nearly as much and will derive less health benefit from it. Additionally, too much landscaping can obscure your view from the house, preventing adequate parental supervision.
Especially for younger children, supervision is essential even when they’re “safe” in the backyard. Check on them every few minutes, and keep an ear out for any unusual noises. Watch out especially for the most unusual sound of all: silence. Playing children almost always make noise; when they stop, it’s time to check on them. Providing structured activities, like building sand castles or playing catch, can also help younger children learn while they play.
Your backyard can provide a safe environment for your children to exercise, imagine, and practice. With a little work on your part and a healthy dose of common sense, your children will enjoy their backyard playground and be more active and healthy because of it. Active children grow into healthier adults, so the benefits of playing in the backyard can last a lifetime.
Joe Cline writes articles for Austin real estate blog. Other articles written by the author related to Austin Texas Realtor and Lakeway real estate can be found on the net.
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