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Kids Love Lawns

by Dawn West, All About Lawns Columnist

When I was a kid, truly not all that long ago, I could roam the neighborhood and play on the front lawn all day long. We would sell lemonade, do gymnastics, dance in the sprinklers, all on the front lawn.
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The days of the neighborhood kids congregating in front of their houses are gone. I don't know anyone who lets their kids stay out on the front lawn without adult supervision. We can't watch them every minute and we're just too scared of what might happen if we leave them alone, even for a minute.

As we become more wary of allowing our kids to hang out on the front lawn, the backyard lawn has taken on greater importance; the backyard lawn however, can be a dangerous place for your children as well. Below are five lawn maintenance tips for making your backyard lawn a safe place for your kids.

  1. Be sure that all lawn maintenance equipment including lawn mowers, rakes, and pruning shears are stored safely out of your child's reach.
  2. When performing your lawn maintenance, and even on a daily basis, check your lawn to be sure there are no sharp objects hiding in the grass. If you keep up with your lawn maintenance, this should be an easy task. When I was three years old, I stepped on the top of a soup can that had somehow made its way to our lawn and I ended up with 22 stitches in my heel. I still have the scar.
  3. Store fertilizers, pesticides, soils, and even bulbs and seeds in an area inaccessible to kids. When you do use fertilizer on your lawn, give your lawn a good watering and wait for the lawn to dry before you let the kids on the lawn. It's never a good idea to let kids on a lawn that has fresh fertilizer. Hands should always be washed after playing on a lawn that has recently had fertilizer applied.
  4. If you must use pesticides in the front yard, try not to use them on the back lawn where your children play. I'm not trying to scare anyone here, but according to a 1987 study by the National Cancer institute, a child living in a household using home and garden pesticides has a 6.5 times higher risk of contracting leukemia. Your kids are likely to roll around on the lawn and run around barefoot; they are also likely to put their hands in their mouths. According to a 1996 study by the EPA, children take in more pesticides relative to body weight than we do. Their bodies have a harder time breaking down and detoxifying chemicals. Have I convinced you?
  5. Practice lawn mower and lawn maintenance equipment safety. According to the American College of Emergency Physicians, 400,000 people are treated in hospital emergency departments every year for injuries relating to the use of lawn maintenance equipment and garden tools. The Department of Consumer Affairs estimates that 800 kids each year are injured or killed when they get run over or backed over by riding lawn mowers. When you are mowing your lawn or performing lawn care maintenance, keep the younger kids inside. Don't let them ride on your mower and don't hold them while you're mowing. The older ones should be at least 12 years old to mow a lawn and they should wear shoes and long pants and not be left alone while mowing the lawn.

Make your back lawn a safe and fun place that your kids will remember long after they are grown.

About the Author
Dawn West B.A. holds a B.A. in English from Harvard University and teaches writing at Oregon State University.

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