Water fascinates children and few things enhance a garden so much as the addition of a pond – whether it’s for fish, water plants or wildlife – so on the face of it, at least, if anywhere’s crying out for a pond, it’s a kids garden! However, there’s no getting around the fact that their fascination can sometimes lead to tragedy, so planning a pond for your kids needs some careful thought – and especially about safety.
How Do We Keep Our Children Safe?
There’s a big pond in our garden that we inherited from previous owners. It’s a lovely thing but we’re concerned about the dangers. Is there anything we can do?
Many people have dealt with similar problems by simply draining the pond and ordering a few tonnes of sand from their local builders’ merchant to fill it in, until such time as their kids have got older. However, if you don’t want to do away with a properly-constructed and well-established pond, fortunately there are some things you can do to make it safe.
The most sensible is to fit a purpose made guard over the pond, firmly suspended a few inches above the surface. There are many kinds on the market, but in general they consist of a rigid mesh which is strong enough to support your child’s weight without bowing, fixed to some kind of mounting on the dry-land surrounding the pond. Plants and most kinds of wildlife are not inconvenienced by the cover, but it effectively stops any danger of your youngster falling in.
If you choose the guard wisely, you should be able to stop worrying about having a pond around youngsters – but it obviously needs to be fitted correctly, preferably by experts, and checked regularly for any signs of wear or damage.
Fencing off the pond is another possible solution, but budding naturalists can be very resourceful, so it’s nowhere near as secure as a good mesh cover.
Kids And Water, That’s Bad Enough – But What About The Electrics?
Pumps, lights and filters are part and parcel of a modern garden pond, but arranging the electrical supply for them – especially in the kids’ garden – can be a bit of a worry. Solar-powered pumps and lights are available, with the great advantage that they don’t require mains electricity and they are unbelievably quick to install. However, most of the ones on the market are only suitable for fairly small ponds – and of course, they do need good, regular sunshine to be at their best.
Alternatively, a large number of kits are available, which provide all the necessary fittings and armoured cables and simply plug into a standard 13-amp socket. Whatever you buy, check to see that it has the CE-mark, which shows it meets the necessary standards.
However, for your own peace of mind, if you’re not sure what you’re doing, or you’re just not happy working with electrics, it’s often best to call in some professional help to make sure the job gets done properly. For anything which needs to be permanently wired into the mains – in other words, doesn’t simply plug in – then a qualified electrician is now required by law.
We’d Love A Wildlife Pond – But How Can You Make One Child-Friendly?
Ponds are great educational opportunities and most kids love watching wildlife, so it makes a lot of sense to have a wildlife pond in the garden. Making it child-friendly obviously starts with making it safe, but it’s also worth bearing a few other things in mind when you’re planning it.
Making sure that the edges aren’t too steep or likely to get muddy under the onslaught of countless sets of small wellington-boots will go a long way to avoiding accidents – and keeping clothes clean too! Try to arrange to have some open water nearest the point from which your children are likely to do most of their viewing; that way they’ll be able to see the wildlife without having to get too close.
What About Planting?
A well planted pond looks great – and the plants perform a number of important functions, from helping to keep the water clean and oxygenated, to providing a living salad bar for wildlife and reducing the likelihood of the water turning green with algae. Choosing plants can be an educational experience in itself – as well as fun to do – especially if you have a good local aquatic centre.
For the wildlife pond, try to stick to native plants; for simply ornamental ones, you can just enjoy buying whatever appeals!
The Kids Want To Be Involved In Actually Building Their New Pond. What’s The Best Material For The Job?
Building a pond can be great fun – and if the whole family gets involved, so much the better! Flexible pond liners are probably the best material for this type of project, since they’re fairly forgiving and there’s more than enough different jobs to be done fitting one to keep everybody busy and no one’s going to feel left out!
Whether you’re adapting an existing pond or building a new one, with a little thought you and your children can have a pond to be proud of – and enjoy in safety.