Spending time outdoors can benefit children in a variety of ways. It will not only support their education, but it can improve their motor skills and increase their physical activity levels.

Research has also found that spending an extra hour outdoors per week can improve children’s sleep and prevent near-sightedness.

If you’re planning to create a child-friendly public garden, read these five top tips on how to create a fun and functional community space.

  1. Start by Surveying the Site

Before you get started on a community garden, survey the existing site to identify if you could preserve or repurpose various features, objects or plant life. For example, there might be sheds you can keep, paving you could reuse or plants you could continue to care for. It is also imperative to learn about any preservation orders that are in place or if it is within a conservation area to ensure you adhere to any legal requirements.

  1. Provide Amenities

Children often need to use the bathroom at a moment’s notice. To ensure they aren’t caught off guard, aim to provide clean and functional toilet facilities if at all possible. You’ll need to provide sinks, hot running water and dryers, which must be considered before planting flowers and plants, as pipes might need to be installed underground. Plus, you could improve the look and feel of the space by installing dependable radiators from the likes of Warmrooms or featuring kids’ framed artwork on the walls.

  1. Avoid Poisonous Plants

Toddlers and young children are prone to putting anything into their mouths, which is why you must not add any poisonous plants in a community garden.

For example, you should avoid the following plants:

  • Hydrangea
  • Bluebell
  • Lily of the Valley
  • Poison ivy
  • Daphne
  • Foxglove
  • Daffodil

Instead, incorporate child-friendly plants, such as snapdragons, pot marigold, Amaranthus, lemon balm and linden tree.

  1. Be Cautious of Common Hazards

In addition to avoiding poisonous plants, there are other common hazards you must try to avoid when creating a community garden. For example, you must avoid trip hazards when creating paths and walkways and have proper protectino around any water features. You must also ensure that garden tools, wheelbarrows and any power tools aren’t accessible to those visiting the community garden. They must be stored away in a safe and secure space onsite, such as a lockable shed.

  1. Create a Learning Garden

A community garden can serve as an ideal place to educate children of all ages about plant life, food, biology, nutrition and weather cycles. Creating a learning garden can, therefore, support a child’s education and help them to develop a passion for horticulture.

For example, you could incorporate:

  • A vegetable garden – to teach about nutrition and the importance of healthy eating
  • An aquaponic garden – educate children on how plants receive nutrients
  • A native plant garden – where they can learn about their local ecosystem

It’s a great way to get the children involved in gardening and can help them to develop an appreciation for the natural world.