As the weather warms up, kids and adults alike begin to spend more time outside. It’s wonderful to get kids interested in gardening.

“Give them a packet of seeds and a little spot of their own, show them what to do, and watch the magic happen,” says LSU AgCenter horticulturist Dan Gill.

Spending time in the landscape with children requires some attention on the parents’ part, Gill says. Just as you would childproof an indoor room, it’s important to take safety precautions in the yard to keep young ones safe.

He offers the following tips:

Never leave a toddler or young child outdoors unattended.

Don’t allow children to eat soil or landscape plants.

Check for plants with spiny leaves or thorns, and don’t plant them next to raised porches, decks or steps where children might fall into them.

Keep chemicals secured, and don’t leave pesticide containers out after using them.

Control any fire ant hills in areas where children are likely to play and be familiar with stinging caterpillars.

Use stakes taller than your toddlers for plants that need support. Short stakes can cause eye injuries to kids.

Don’t use a power lawn mower when children are in the yard.

Look at the world from a child’s point of view. With the right attitude, the yard can be a safe and happy place ready for hours and hours of family gardening fun in all seasons.

You asked

Can black roof paper be used under pond liners? I lined the koi pond I am making with it to prevent liner punctures. — Steve

Yes, roofing paper or tar paper is commonly used underneath the pond liner when constructing a small pond. This provides a bit of protection to the pond liner and helps prevent punctures — just as you were thinking. – Dan Gill

We have a 20-inch-by-12-foot flower bed between our porch and driveway. This problem area is largely shaded, tends to hold water and rarely dries fully or deeply. Any suggestions for decorative plants or shrubs? – David

Several native plants are adapted to areas that tend to stay wet for extended periods. Dwarf yaupon holly should also be considered.

In the wettest areas, the yellow flag will grow in the shade but will not bloom. Cast iron plant (Aspidistra) would also be a good choice. — Dan Gill

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