Creating a Green, Kid-Friendly Landscape Design

Guest post provided by Landscape East & West, an award winning full-service landscaping company based in Portland, Ore. Landscape East & West specializes in eco-friendly landscape design and maintenance.

The ideal family backyard has a landscape design that caters to the needs of the children, reflects the tastes of the parents and is safe for the environment. The features to incorporate largely depend on the size of the yard and the age of the kids, so taking some time to plan thoroughly before diving into your project can help save you time, money and trips to the home improvement store.

Tips for Creating a Kid-Friendly Landscape Design

Water safety: If you currently have or plan to incorporate any type of water feature, adding the proper safeguards around it can exponentially reduce the risk of an accidental drowning. Plus, your homeowner’s insurance company may require them. Install an attractive fence around a pool or spa that sounds an alarm whenever the gate is opened. If you have young children, consider building a whimsical fence around a smaller water feature, such as a pond, in addition to placing safety netting over the water.

Kid-safe plants: Young children like to put anything they can grab into their mouths. To make your backyard kid-friendly, include only non-toxic plants that aren’t painful to bare feet. Regularly weed and remove prickly plants and bushes. Replace toxic plants like bleeding heart, wisteria, nightshades and oleander with edible ones, such as marigolds, violets and pansies. Landscape maintenance companies can help you with your garden transformation. Upon completion, the landscape company can then help keep your yard in top condition.

Play areas: Structures and natural landscape design features can become the ultimate play areas. Cut tall grasses into mazes. Plant sunflowers in a square shape and let the kids use them as a fort during the summer. A sandbox is a great place to explore and dig. Use a strong tree branch to hang a swing. If you have the space, build a jungle gym. For added safety, use shock-absorbing, weather-proof materials under play structures, such as recycled rubber or mulch.

Double duty: Covered structures, gazebos and pergolas can double as entertainment and play areas. Pull out the box of outdoor toys during the day to give your child a place to play that’s safe and out of the sun. In the evening, put the toys away and have fun with your own friends. If you have poured concrete under a covered structure, your little one can ride a tricycle in a place that’s safe from cars. In addition to adding protection from the elements and traffic, pergolas and gazebos are great places for your family to enjoy time together.

Lighting: The fun doesn’t have to stop when the sun starts to set. Use weatherproof lights to illuminate your pool, spa or other water features in addition to play structures, dining areas and any other play areas. Outdoor lights that don’t get hot are ideal.

 Making Your Landscape Design Eco-Friendly    

One of the best ways to make your landscape both kid-friendly and eco-friendly is to eliminate the use of chemicals. Instead of using fertilizer in your garden, opt for compost. Deter unwanted pests by keeping your yard well maintained. If you don’t have the time, green landscape maintenance companies will happily weed, rake leaves, trim and prune for you using eco-friendly methods.

Conserve water by recycling the gray water in your home (such as the water from your sinks and tub) and installing rainwater harvesting systems. Such methods will teach your children about self-sufficiency and sustainability. You can also cut back on your water use by reducing the size of your lawn or replacing your grass with a flower or vegetable garden. If you don’t have a lot of space for garden beds, consider vertical gardening using recycled wooden pallets.

As you transform your landscape into a more kid-friendly space, look for ways to recycle or up-cycle products. Instead of purchasing a new play set, for example, scour the local classified ads to see if you can find a used one for sale. A good cleaning and a fresh coat of paint is often the only thing a used item needs to look brand new.

When you make your landscape green and kid-friendly, you teach your children about the importance of helping the earth and provide them with creative ways to have fun. For more ideas about making your yard kid-friendly, contact a local green landscape company.

Guest post provided by Landscape East & West, an award winning full-service landscaping company based in Portland, Ore. Landscape East & West specializes in eco-friendly landscape design and maintenance.

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