The backyard is one of the best parts of upgrading from an apartment or condo to a house. Pets have more space to roam. Kids can play outside, and families can enjoy this outdoor oasis for relaxing and fun gatherings. Creating a backyard for playing and entertaining can come with risks and hazards, though. Here’s what landlords, renters and homeowners should keep in mind while setting up a safe backyard.
Backyard Safety for Landlords
Your responsibility as the landlord is to ensure a safe and secure space for your tenants, especially your outdoor rental property. For your youngest tenants, the backyard is a fun outdoor playground or an injury-prone hazardous space. If you’re renting to families, take extra safety measures to provide a risk-free background and reduce your liability as well.
- Establish Expectations: As part of your lease agreement, include sensible restrictions about use of the back yard. Having a policy on trampolines, grills (and their distance from the home) and patio furniture sets the stage for responsible usage.
- Pool Security: The backyard swimming pool is a top selling point to attract renters. Yet, without a protective fence, this amenity becomes a death trap. Prevention.com recommends installing a four-sided, 5-foot high and climb-resistant fence secured with a self-latching or self-closing gate. A strong fence also protects the backyard from stray dogs and strangers. Vertical slats should be no wider than four inches apart to keep children from sliding through. In addition to a fence, you need to make sure that all pool chemicals are stored safely. Make sure they are out of the reach of children, stored in a cool and dry area, and are not mixed or combined. Pool chemicals can emit fumes or have dangerous chemical reactions if they are not taken care of properly.
- Pests: Pesticides may kill those pesky pests like weeds and insects, but pesticides may also cause serious health effects, from headaches and nausea to cancer. For children, pesticides are highly detrimental and can affect development of the central nervous system. Rather than spray with pesticides, install a birdhouse to attract bluebirds that feed on insects. You can also grow sunflower or parsley plants to attract non-harmful predatory insects that destroy pesky backyard bugs. If you live in a location where pest treatment is recommended, include the cost of a high quality treatment service in the rent so you know it is being done responsibly. Then, ensure that your tenants are educated about the process & how long they should wait before kids and pets play on the treated yard.
As a new homeowner, you are eager to start enjoying the summertime weather with a backyard entertainment space. If you’re excited to transform your new lawn into a hosting hot spot for friends, family and new neighbors, take these steps to keep your fun oasis free-of-dangers.
- Water features offer an aesthetic and serene ambiance but instantly become a drowning hazard. Surround your water feature with a fence and lock as child protection.
- Supervise children at all times when they play on a trampoline or play set. Kids want to test their boundaries and tend to try dangerous tricks and stunts on trampolines; however, if an adult is present, the risk of them doing something dangerous is less. Anchor the trampoline to the ground and make sure it is on a flat surface, so it is less likely to tip. Install a safety net around the trampoline and add soft wood chips beneath the play set to help soften falls.
- Grilling is also the cause of 16,000 patients going to the ER in 2014. To prevent grill fires, make sure your grill is clean, keep flammable items far away from the grill and check for leaks or breaks before turning it on.
- Gathering around a fire pit at night gives that fun campfire feel. Never leave the fire unattended, extinguish it properly and prevent injury by making sure children aren’t running around it.
Backyards are no longer just for a swing set and hammock. This outdoor space is where the whole family can make memories, from long lazy summer days to alfresco dinners at dusk. If you’re furnishing your outdoor patio, start with adequate sun protection. UVA and UVB rays from the sun cause serious damage to your skin, which can lead to skin cancer, sunburns, wrinkles and other skin problems. The American Skin Association suggests following the shadow rule, which states that if your shadow is short, you need to find shade because the UV rays are strongest at that point of the day. Patio umbrellas provide shade from harmful sun rays. For added protection, choose an umbrella with a UV-resistant canopy fabric. To keep your outdoor living space safe, you may also want to:
- Make sure patio umbrellas open and close properly; oil helps joints move with ease
- Store your umbrella away during high winds or extreme storms; it can turn into a dangerous projectile when hit with strong gusts
- Check patio furniture for wear and tear, like frayed straps, rusted metal, bent metal frames and sharp edges
For more ideas on turning your backyard into your favorite space, check out how to make the most of your patio space!
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What would you like to change about your backyard?
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