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Back garden on two levels, how safe for young children?

22 replies

Fizzylemonade · 26/05/2009 10:59

Have been looking at a house on the internet and it ticks all the boxes except that the back garden is on two levels.

We live in a hilly area so we know that finding a house with a garden that is flat is almost impossible.

The patio area is paved, then there is a retaining wall with steps in the middle to the upper level, the height is about 3 foot. The owners have made a bit of an effort with those trellis panels you put on the top of the fence, but I have 2 boys aged 6 and 3 who literally tear round the garden.

What could I do to keep them safe but also looks ok as the lounge is on the back of the house meaning this would be something I would be looking at a lot.

Would planting deter them from running near the edge? Our own garden slopes in two directions but the previous owners landscaped it all out so we have raised borders and a flat garden.

I know this isn't an exciting thread (you can tell its half term)

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MadamAnt · 26/05/2009 11:13

We had a garden like this, and I have to say that I found it a bit of a nightmare with DD (she was 18 months - three years old while we lived here). That said, she is/was a climbing maniac. We ended up putting proper railings along the highest wall (we had several levels), and planting along the smaller ones. That helped a lot, but I found it hard to totally relax.

pinkdolly · 26/05/2009 11:26

The house we are living in at the moment is like that.

All paved with retaining wall/steps to next level. It also has several smaller levels and a pond.
Our main living area is also on the back of the house and overlooks this.

Our girls are now 6,5 and almost 3. We have been here for 2 years.

I was a bit worried to start off with (more so with the pond tbh), but we have never had any problems/accidents. And I actually found having the living space at the back really useful as it meant I could keep have an eye on them if i had too.

Pannacotta · 26/05/2009 11:28

COuld you make narrow raised beds where the trellis is?
If not perhaps proper railings or fence. Saw some nice looking things in teh B&Q garden catalogue, will see if I can find a link...

MatNanPlus · 26/05/2009 11:29

What about making a modest raised bed infront of the retaining wall and look at maybe adding a slide from the top level?

Pannacotta · 26/05/2009 11:39

The thing I was thinking of is slatted panel but there is no pic on the B&Q website

The panels also come in softwood (cheaper) or acrylic.

The wooden panels looks a bit like this

and would be good for keeping the top areas safe.

titchy · 26/05/2009 12:38

We have a very similar garden - but with a third raised level at the end. Our dcs are older, but I certainly wouldn't worry about the 6 yo. The 3 yo you'd have to watch which would be a pain, but by next summer you certainly wouldn't need to.

So buy it - you'll be on pins this summer, but after that it'll be fine! And you wouldn't want to spend next summer going 'if only...' Besides by the time you move in the weather will probably be crap anyway...

Fizzylemonade · 26/05/2009 12:38

Thank you all, I like the slide idea

At least no-one has said "my child fell and needed stitches"

I know that excavating the garden out is crazy expensive so I was trying to think of ways round the situation.

Thanks Pannacotta, the ones on the alan-hayward website are fab as they use them on a balcony and I need them to be able to retain a child so they need to be strong. I think a raised bed would also be a good idea to keep the boys away from the edge.

Will let dh know, he is anal a worrier

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FindTheLocation · 26/05/2009 13:08

Our garden is like that & I HATE it. DS is forever runnign about & has toppled off the grass down the stone steps onto the patio a couple of times. I feel that I have to watch him all of the time as I am worried there are so many hazzards. I am so pleased we have sold & my next house will have a FLAT garden. But I hope someone else on this thread can help you round your dilemma. Off to read the replies with interest....

FindTheLocation · 26/05/2009 13:09

BTW my DS is two so younger than yours & less aware of danger. My friends have told me that yoru children get used to their environment. However, I am still craving a flat garden!!

stealthsquiggle · 26/05/2009 13:14

I think it is not something that should put you off a house you otherwise like, TBH.

If you looked at our house from that perspective there is no way you would buy it - changes of level everywhere, both inside and out, with lots of hard surfaces and sharp corners as well. Whilst it is true that my DC have lots of bruises from falling over, neither of them have ever done themselves serious or lasting damage, and the only children I worry about are visitors who are not used to it. Garden within sight of window is good.

trixymalixy · 26/05/2009 13:53

I crave a flat garden as well.

Ours is on 3 levels with concrete steps and retaining walls. DS is only 2 and I can't really relax when we are out in the garden and there's no way he could be out there on his own.

We have put up a fence which consists of wooden posts with green plastic covered mesh stretched between. It seems to do the job. We didn't want anything too solid as it would have blocked light into the house.

It is so much better when we are at our in laws with their completely flat enclosed garden.

Having said that it wouldn't put me off buying a house I loved. In a couple of years DS will be old enough to manage himself.

My sister and I were fine in a much less child friendly garden than the one we have now.

Fizzylemonade · 26/05/2009 17:51

I see I spoke too soon when I said no-one had told me their child had fallen down I am glad no-one is seriously hurt.

The problem is my own garden has the raised beds, the lawn is flat but then there is one step that runs around the whole garden from the lawn to the patio.

I think the age is an important factor, last year I was out there all the time keeping an eye on ds2, however this year I have felt comfortable nipping inside to go to the toilet/get ice lollies.

It is almost impossible to get a flat garden here and we walk to school and I want to be able to do that after we move. We are literally limited to choosing a house from about 10 streets! We are a relatively new build estate surrounded by terraced houses and bungalows

It is a small sacrafice when the school is amazing.

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FuriousGeorge · 26/05/2009 19:11

Ours runs up a steep slope away from the house and we moved in with a 3wk old and a 21 month old.They have never fallen off the raised bits onto the concrete and haven't fallen much at all,despite the garden being full of rickety steps.4 years later the girls cope with it fine,as do visiting children.We can see them from the house no matter where they are in the garden.

annieshaf · 26/05/2009 19:48

Fizzy lemonade

Hi we are currently haveing our garden landscapes to take out a slope by putting in retaining walls - wounds like it will be just like yours. I am considering planting a small (40cm) box hedge at the top of the wall to stop the boys (3 and 18m) from going to close to the edge.


Fizzylemonade · 26/05/2009 22:57

I think that's the answer annieshaf to plant something that will be a physical barrier keeping them away from the edge.

A box hedge would be lovely. I am literally about 10 days away from getting my house on the market. It is all those pesky tiny jobs that seem to take the longest.

FuriousGeorge glad to hear no disasters for your girls. I think you have made a good point that you can see them wherever they are in the garden. In my house my 3yr old disappears under the windows of my conservatory (inherited, not my choice) so I have to be physically out in the garden with them a lot of the time, there are lots of places to disappear round the sides of the house due to the location of the gates.

It is a nice thought that I can just see them from the lounge window.

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hellymelly · 26/05/2009 23:04

Ours is like this too-but our whole village has terraced gardens as it is so hilly (well,it is Wales!) I found it hard work last year with a crawling and then jsut walking baby,but this year seems better (my younger dd is just two) although I still worry about the steep slate steps and the top part of the garden is sloped too.I don't let them run madly around,I take them out for that,but they do all sorts of other play (water table,canvas wendy house,digging etc)There is a low wall one side and a very low hedge the other.I guess they just seem used to it now,and so far it has been fine.

cat64 · 26/05/2009 23:15

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cat64 · 26/05/2009 23:15

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edam · 26/05/2009 23:50

Our garden sounds similar to many here. We put a picket fence round the top level with a gate across the steps when ds was a baby - I just had visions of him as a toddler hurtling down the paved steps on a trike or something. Never happened, thank heavens.

We could probably get round to having it taken down now, given he's nearly six!

Fizzylemonade · 27/05/2009 08:32

It is good to know that not everyone has a flat garden and the children all cope.

Thank you for your responses.

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jeanjeannie · 27/05/2009 09:00

We're in the process ATM. We live in a really hilly area and have made two levels. We've got for a big patio (for bikes, toy cars etc) where they can happily bang their heads on the concrete within easy reach of the first aid box

We've then put a railing that has veritical slats - so no climbling up and over. Should they manage to climb over we've gone for a a break in the drop with a big raised bed for veg; so a fall into some cabbages should be ok!

Then there is the bottom level; grass and playbark - with a climbing frame. The stairs are big wooden sleepers and we've done that so as to allow for more shallow steps. We're also putting a gate at the top - if they're old enough to open it then they'll be old enough to tumble down without too many problems.

They'll cope - they'll think it's an adventure playground!

Fizzylemonade · 29/05/2009 12:49

Thank you jeanjeannie, I hadn't thought of gating it off.

I agree about the patio area, our current garden allows them to go in one direction only as there isn't enough room to turn a little tikes car round so they have to do a 3 point turn

We are hoping to get rid of the conservatory on the back of the house we like, making a large patio area for the boys to scoot around on scooters and ds2's little trike. The veg box is a really great idea to break their fall! Plus it will give me something nice to look at rather than a retaining red brick wall.

Our climbing frame will go on the raised bit as near to the back of the garden as possible. It sits below the fence line though so no peeping at the neighbours from their lookout post

I do love MN.

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