Pond and Garden Safety with David Domoney
To make the most of our gardens as safe havens, it’s vital that everyone that uses it is safe and secure, whether that’s children, pets, or wildlife. When designing your garden, consider the uses of your garden and choose elements and features that are appropriate.
Safe and secure
Introducing water to the garden has so many benefits, from relaxing and de-stressing you with the tranquil sound of water, to providing a place for wildlife to drink and bathe. However, for family homes it’s helpful to make adaptations so you can enjoy the benefits without putting anyone in harm’s way. For example, with family homes with children and pets, raised ponds are a safer and more secure option that sunken ponds which can be a worry when curious little ones go exploring.
Think of the size of your garden and consider the size and style pond you can incorporate. For example, if you have a long garden, a slim rectangular pond down the length of the garden could be a more practical choice than one situated right in the centre. Alternatively, get creative and opt for an L-shaped pond or a semi-circle, finished with a wonderful waterfall feature.
Although, if you already have a sunken-pond or have your heart set on one, surround the structure with netting or fencing to keep the little ones out. Alternatively, fit a mesh, grill or pond net which protects the pond from falling leaves, but can also be used as a safety measure to prevent children from falling in.
Clean and clear
If your children are old enough to be trusted near the pond and interact with it, it’s vital that the pond water is clean and clear enough for them to dip a finger in. With a huge range of water quality improvement products, you can keep control of algae and stabilise the quality of the water.
There are certain products that are best used during specific seasons to optimise the cleanliness of the pond water. These measures will help to control any hazardous elements within the water and ensure there is the right balance of nutrients.
A key consideration for ponds is how accessible they are to wildlife. Firstly, your pond needs to be situated in a spot where there is sufficient sunlight so aquatic plants can flower and thrive. This is because plant up a mixture of floating, marginal, and submerged plants within the pond will provide shelter for amphibians.
If you are opting for a wildlife pond over a fishpond, you may see frost, toads, newts, mayflies, hoverflies, and water beetles paying your pond a visit. Keep wildlife happy by using organic products when water gardening. Ensure you check that the products you are using are wildlife friendly.
Hedgehogs will also appreciate your pond, so make it accessible by adding a gradual slope or steps to the pond so they can safely get in and out.
Another vital component in a garden is plants and choosing ones that are harmless to children and pets is ideal. This will ensure you can leave them to roam and explore, without the worry that they’ll be munching on toxic plants.
Dryopteris affinis (scaly male fern) is an elegant evergreen that has bright yellow-green foliage year-round. Tolerating any level of sunlight or shade, this hardy plant will do well planted next to or near water, adding a softness to the space whilst being safe for pets and children. Similarly for another classic foliage pick, Festuca glauca (blue fescue) will add a sense of magic to the area with the shiny blue-grey colouring. In a well-drained spot with full sun, this dwarf grass will thrive.
For a burst of colour, Rudbeckia ‘Aries’ has cheery yellow flowers with brown centres for an autumnal spectacle from August to October if planted in a sunny spot in moist but well-drained soil. Or for a ground cover option that’s also perfect for edging a pathway, Lobularia maritima (sweet alyssum) ‘Snowdrift’ is a fantastic evergreen contender. In summer, it blooms white flowers for months on end, gracing the space with its sweetly-fragranced flowers.
Design a pond that perfectly suits your garden by ensuring it is a safe space for children and pets to roam. Spending time outdoors is so important, so safeguarding the space with appropriate plants and safe structures is key.