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16 October 2014
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Winter 2004
John Cushnie On...

Child Safe Water Features
1st February 2005

There is no doubt that safety in the garden should be top of any list of priorities. You never can be too careful and gardeners carry a lot of responsibilities with tools, chemicals, poisonous berries, electricity and water as potential risks.

PondTools and chemicals we can lock up in a shed or cupboard, toxic plants may be banned and electricity, if professionally installed, should be safe.

Water in the form of ponds, pools, fountains, cascades and waterfalls make for interesting features and I would suggest that every garden would benefit from the sight and sound of moving water.

The challenge is in providing a feature that is safe in a garden where there are children.

Shallow ponds where the depth of water is kept to a minimum is part of the solution but even a few inches of water can be fatal.

One solution is to surround the water feature with a secure fence until children and grandchildren are beyond the danger age. If wrought iron railings are used they can look very attractive and are “see through”. Wooden picket fencing is less expensive and provides a “cottage” appearance. Where there is a gate for access then it must be kept locked.

Fountain The moving water via a fountain, cascade or waterfall is not likely to be a safety risk. Children can be a nuisance blocking the flow of water with sticks, stones and leaves resulting in an empty pond and a burnt out pump. Arriving at the back door with soaking clothes will be no more harmful than being caught in a shower of rain.

The pond can be made safe without losing the sight and sound of running water.

Lay steel or galvanised bars across the pond a few inches above the surface of the water to support galvanised mesh. Cut the sheets to fit around water features such as fountains or figurines. Cover the mesh with smooth, round river stones .These are available from garden centres in a selection of colours.

The water surface is now hidden and safe yet the pump can continue to move water around the features. Check on a regular basis the water level in the pond.

It will mean doing without pond plants such as water lilies and fish but it isn’t forever. There will be years between the children and the grandchildren!

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