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When designing a commercial or communal garden, you want it to be pretty and inviting but safety is also a top priority. Gardens with a high footfall need to be extremely safe and functional, so its users can have an enjoyable experience and use the facilities without fear of hurting themselves.
Outdoor environments which will have vulnerable guests, such as children or elderly people, need to go even further when it comes to safety. For example, school playgrounds might require woodchip or another soft surface which can reduce the chance of injury if anybody falls off the equipment. A care home garden shouldn’t have any steps if possible, and large pathways which are easy for wheelchair users. Landscape designers need to take these factors into consideration when designing public gardens.
The benefits of gardens
Gardens are a wonderful place to relax and enjoy some fresh air, as well as look out for birdlife and other wildlife. Especially for older people or seriously ill patients in hospital who can’t get out much, spending time in an attractive and peaceful garden can be critical for wellbeing.
A well designed garden also stimulates all the senses, which is another reason why it is a good place for the very young and the very old. Gardens and gardening has been proven to beat depression and reduce stress, and of course spending time outdoors can also boost vitamin D levels. However, if we want to encourage people to go outside and enjoy communal gardens, they need to be safe, accessible and welcoming.
Let’s look at different ways in which you can make a communal garden a safer place for users of all ages.
Communal garden design should be inclusive, which means it takes into account the needs of all its users.
Check that the boundary of your garden is secure. Whether the space is fenced or walled in, make sure there are no breaches. This is as much to stop toddlers and small children from getting out, as it is to stop would-be intruders from entering.
Ensure the boundary wall/fence, the gate, edging, tables, chairs, and other equipment don’t have exposed sharp edges that can cause injury if someone trips, falls, or walks into them. Check for exposed nails, broken equipment, and broken bottles. Make sure gardening tools haven’t been left lying around – forks, spades, and other tools should be stored securely in a locked shed.
Lay paths and paved areas that are accessible for parents with prams, elderly people with walking aids, people with wheelchairs, and others whose mobility is compromised. Avoid steps where possible, and instead opt for ramps and gentle slopes with handrails where needed. The permeability of SureSet means you don’t need to worry about puddles, moss, and other such slipping hazards on your paths.
Paved areas with seating or recreational equipment should be easy to access. Consider using SureSet’s PlayBound for children’s play areas – apart from being brightly coloured and suitable for fun designs, it offers a softer landing for children who trip or fall.
Use a raised or flat metal cover to make ponds or water features safer for children, older people, and people with disability or mobility issues. Make sure the cover is locked or otherwise secured (remember you’ll need to be able to remove it for cleaning and maintaining the pond).
A sturdy cover will prevent people from falling into the water – after all, it’s possible to drown in only a few centimetres of water. If you’d rather not take the risk, remove the pond or water features from the garden.
Choose plants with all garden users in mind. Avoid toxic plants, shrubs, and trees, as well as those with thorns or known for causing severe allergic reactions.
Low-maintenance plants are a good choice for older people and people with disability who want to enjoy a hands-on gardening experience. Use raised beds and planters to make it easier for older people or people with compromised mobility to reach plants and flowers. Give children beds or an area of their own in which they can grow and tend their own plants, flowers, vegetables, or fruit.
How SureSet improves communal gardens
Whether it’s a communal garden in a residential block or a courtyard in a care home, SureSet is the ideal choice for public outdoor spaces. As a versatile material, resin bound paving can be used for pathways, patios, garden paving, courtyards, tree pits and leisure paving. There are many colour choices and textures available, even bright and creative designs for schools and leisure parks.
Communal gardens often have a high footfall, so a hardwearing solution is essential – SureSet resin bound products are extremely durable and come with a 21 year guarantee against cracks and damage. It has an exceedingly smooth finish, so the flooring is ideal for buggies and wheelchairs, and can also prevent slips and trips. Additionally, permeable paving reduces puddles which can in turn reduce accidents in the garden and allow it to be open for more days of the year.
Communal courtyards and gardens have to put safety first, and SureSet paving is one of the safest options available.