Designing a garden is hard enough, but working a garden near an area where children play is even harder. Careful thought and consideration needs to be taken before purchasing and planting every single plant. What looks nice and grows well in your climate and soil conditions are not the only major factors you need to think about. Fortunately, with thought and research, you can plant and grow a beautiful, safe and child-friendly garden for your landscape.
Plant only non-poisonous plants, such as petunias, roses (thornless) and jade plants. Avoid poisonous plants such as rhododendrons, foxgloves, daisies, daffodils and morning glories; sometimes seeds can be poisonous as well. Research any plant for poisonous parts before planting near a play area. Remember that consuming plants in large quantities is never good, and a call to the doctor may be in order to be on the safe side if there's any question.
Grow plants that will not hurt children if they fall into them. Plants with prickly leaves, thorns or sharp thick woody stems, such as roses and hollies, are not the best choice near play areas.
Plant a tree that will grow with the children and that they can climb. Smaller trees like Japanese maples or lilacs make good, small trees to climb. Also plant fast-growing trees, such as a poplar, to provide shade for the play area.
Attract butterflies and hummingbirds with fragrant plants such as purple coneflowers, butterfly bush and milkweed.
Provide enough room around the play area for children to jump off swings, go around the sliding board to get in line and just run around. Fill the play area with mulch, such as rubber mulch that is softer to land on, so plants and weeds are less likely to invade the play space.
Leave walking space in the garden for children to water the plants and retrieve their Frisbees and balls.
Choose plants that are inexpensive and need less maintenance so you will not get upset if they are damaged. Kids are kids, and investing a lot of time and money into an area that is more likely to get some abuse and a few balls tossed into it may not be the wisest choice.