As spring approaches, children will hope to venture out into the garden with their parents. But not so fast! That backyard jungle of a playground is littered with danger for the unsuspecting child. To make sure your gardening assistant has a safe experience, here are some tips.

Pesticide protection

While chemicals, including fertilizers, weed killers and pesticides, can make for a thriving garden, swallowing, inhaling, or coming into contact with these gardening tools may prove hazardous. To limit harmful exposure, make sure the pesticides are sprayed on a day with little wind and you are wearing protective gear. After reading the instructions and treating your garden with a chemical, it’s also important to wash any exposed skin or clothing.

When your children later want to play in the dirt, you’ll want to double-check they’re not in an area that has been sprayed with the toxin, especially if you fear digging might turn a mud pie into a hardy dinner option.

Tooling around

Before your gardening tools turn into lightsabers for a Star Wars re-enactment, establish some ground rules. Anyone with a green thumb knows that you’re only as good as your shiny silver weapons when it comes to battling the weeds and shrubbery.

However, mishandling these sharp tools can be dangerous for children. It’s important to set boundaries early on. Making a tool a reward for positive garden behavior and therefore a privilege that can be taken away helps with rule enforcement.

To eat or not to eat

We all remember our parents shuffling all of the green leafy veggies they could possibly fit onto our plates. We’re raised to eat our vegetables but not all plants are safe to eat or even touch. Poison Ivy might be the most well-known of these offenders.

Toddlers’ grabby hands can be dangerous when poisonous berries, mushrooms, or flowers — to name a few — fall within reach. Encounters can result in a range of side effects from minor to fatal. The best way to ensure a fun day outdoors is to consistently educate yourself on the vegetation in and surrounding the home garden.

Friend or foe

Many first pets were caterpillars, rolly pollies, or ladybugs, but not all critters are as well-mannered. Did you know some caterpillars aren’t so friendly? Your garden might feature some dangerous pests, including snakes, spiders, ticks, and wasps. Because we can’t all be entomologists (bug studiers), the best policy to protect children is one of looking—not touching.

If any of these pests get out of control or continue to make unwelcome visits, however, you can always call us. While we want to be friendly to the critters that are friendly to us, some have the potential to overrun our gardens. If it’s time to take back your kid-friendly space, check out Ehrlich Pest Control, formerly Connor’s snake or insect removal services.

Parents’ Gardening Guide: Play It Safe in Virginia

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