The summer is finally here! If you’re looking forward to spending some quality time in the sun with your little ones, Nicky Roeber, Online Horticultural Expert at Wyevale Garden Centres, is here to tell you how you can create some much-needed shade in your garden to get some relief from the hot sun.
Summer is the perfect time to get the kids playing outside in the fresh air. The sun’s UV rays can provide you with some valuable vitamin D, but too much time in the sunshine can harm your child’s skin, as over-exposure to UV light can increase the chances of contracting some form of skin cancer (British Skin Foundation).
To keep your children safe, you should be applying sun cream of at least SPF 30 to any visible part of their body (NHS). But, creating cool, shaded spots in your garden for them to play in can also help. In this article, I’ll be giving you just some of the ways you can create shade in your own garden.
Shaded decking areas
If you’ve got a large garden, why not create a shaded decking area with a pergola or add a wooden gazebo? These wooden frames can look extra stylish if you plant some climbing plants, like English ivy or wisteria, around their base. As the plant grows, it will wrap itself around the frame, providing a lovely natural shelter between any gaps.
Add a table and some chairs to give your children a shaded place for outdoor arts and crafts using leaves and flowers they find in the garden. This area can also double-up as a space for al-fresco dining at family mealtimes.
Playhouses, sheds and tents
Give your children a space of their own with a playhouse or shed. Create a team project and enlist some little helpers to build one together as a family. Or, you could buy one pre-made and just transport it to anywhere in your garden. Your children can spend their summer making it entirely their own with paints, and you can use blankets and beanbags to create a little den for them to play in when the sun is bright.
As a cheaper and more temporary alternative, a simple child’s tent can do the same job, and you can take it down once the autumn weather starts to set in.
Parasols and umbrellas
If you’ve got a smaller garden, or you’re looking for a quick fix, parasols and umbrellas are the perfect way to create a small shaded spot around seating areas. These solutions are also completely mobile, which means if your children are insistent on playing in a certain area, you can effortlessly move the shade to them instead.
Plants that provide natural shade
If your garden is big enough, planting trees is a great way to provide some natural shade to your garden. Any tree is great for this, but interesting species can be incredibly popular with children. Willow trees can give your children a great place to sit and play or read under the low hanging branches, and the confetti-like petals of the flowering cherry tree will make a wonderful sight in the spring. Or, why not plant some fruit trees, like an apple or pear tree, which will give you shade and some tasty fruit to pick with the kids.
When planting your tree, make sure there is enough space around it for it to grow and plant in a dormant season like early spring or autumn. Dig a hole big enough for the tree to sit in, but shallow enough that the base of the trunk is visible above the soil — this will give the roots enough space to develop and grow.
For young trees, you may need to stake them for support, so find a stake that’s about a third of the height of your tree and place it two feet into the soil. Then, attach the it to the trunk with a soft tree tie or figure of eight tree tie. You should leave an inch gap between the tree trunk and the stake to give the tree room to sway and strengthen.
The summer is a great time to get out in the garden and spend some time in the sun. If you’ve got some of these shaded areas in your garden, you and your children can get some cool relief when the sun gets too hot and bright.