Whether you rent or own your home, nothing beats relaxing in your backyard. Your yard doesn’t need to be perfect to be enjoyable. Sometimes all you need to feel surrounded by beauty are a few green bushes and some beautiful flowers. However, when you’ve got kids and pets, follow these tips to keep your backyard safe and secure:
- Consider the unseen dangers posed to kids who like to climb
Kids are adventurous, often to their detriment. They climb fences and trees when you’re not looking, and sometimes they climb on top of buildings.
You can’t wrap your kids in bubble wrap, but you can prevent their curiosity from turning into injury. While they probably won’t be able to reach the roof of your main house, they can probably get on top of smaller buildings like sheds, storage buildings, and pump houses. Many kids love jumping from high places, but that’s not your biggest concern. Your biggest concern should be the moss and algae that grows on top of roofs.
Not only do moss rhizomes (roots) displace shingles they grow, but the moss itself is slippery and extremely dangerous. Moss collecting on a rooftop also allows moisture to seep into the roof. One step on a mushy spot and your kid will fall through the roof. If your kids like to climb onto high places, and you’ve got short buildings with moss growing on top, clean it as soon as possible.
Before you get out the pressure washer, try a milder solution. Using a pressure washer on your roof will dislodge shingles and can damage them by removing the protective top layer. Try using a garden hose, water, and give your roof a good scrub. If that doesn’t work, it might be time to replace your roof with moss-resistant shingles.
- Plant flowers and shrubbery intentionally
There are plants we find beautiful but are highly toxic to our animals. Thankfully, most animals instinctively avoid poisonous foods and plants (cats are highly sensitive to smell). Still, it’s not worth taking a chance.
Visit the ASPCA’s guide to poisonous plants. You can search for toxic plants by name, or by the animal the plants affected. Currently, the database is limited to cats, dogs, and horses. If you have a different kind of animal, talk to your vet and find out what plants you should avoid in your backyard.
Find a gardener or botanist to help you identify all the plants in your yard. If you discover poisonous plants, remove them at the root and plant something non-toxic. Your gardener can give you some beautiful ideas.
Remember to think about your kids, too. Some kids love to eat flower petals, especially after they’ve realized some flowers – like calendula – are edible.
There are many poisonous flowers to avoid having in your yard when you have small children. For example, honey produced by bees collecting pollen from Mountain Laurel can cause low blood pressure and death. The entire plant can kill a person if ingested. Veratum is a beautiful white flower, but will quickly result in cardiac failure. To the untrained eye, Ragwort looks like a yellow daisy, and while it’s more dangerous to livestock than humans, if a human is allergic, ingesting it can lead to respiratory failure and death.
Be safe! Know exactly what’s in your yard, remove all toxic flowers and shrubbery, and replace them with safe, edible plants.
- Keep your lawn or dirt areas raked down
When left alone, molehills can actually become mountains. That is, they become mountains that small children can trip over. Your backyard isn’t really yours. You’re sharing it with a neighborhood of wildlife, even if you live in the city. Squirrels will bury their nuts in your lawn, moles will dig their tunnels, and gophers will dig their holes.
To keep your yard safe for everyone, make it part of your yard work routine to rake down molehills, and fill up gopher holes. It’s actually a liability for you to have a hazardous yard. If one of your guests happens to twist their ankle in a gopher hole, they could sue you.
Put effort into landscaping your backyard
Make your backyard a safe and beautiful place for everyone to spend time. Making your yard beautiful is a great way to get your kids outside, and give your pets time to roam free.