When we first envisioned the plans for our garden, we were childless. We purchased our house the spring after we were married. Our neighborhood is the epitome of Colorado new suburbia. Colorful houses are packed tightly together, separated by white fencing. Our lot was larger than most, but really that amounted to a lot more weeds to battle. For the first few years of gardening here, we frequently found nails and bits of plywood buried in the dirt. The builders gave us two trees - one in the front yard, and one in the back. Otherwise the back yard was a bare dirt lot which was quickly overtaken by bindweed and prickly plants that stung through even the toughest of gloves.
Over time, we have reclaimed the little space as our suburban garden. Gravel paths wind around two raised vegetable beds, an herb garden, and a terraced stone patio which is covered in Turkish veronica and various thymes. I cannot say that we are meticulous gardeners, but we do enjoy our time spent outside. Now that the children are part of our family, it inspires us to put more energy into our yardwork.
I think the best yard for very young children would probably be a gently undulating rectangle of soft grass. In contrast, our yard has many hazards, which led me to believe that it would be unfriendly to children for some years. This could not be further from the reality. This is Zoe's first year to fully embrace all the garden has to offer, but Miles is entirely unfazed by the fact that he cannot yet walk. Much like our cat, he hangs out inside by the doors, hoping someone will come along and open them so he can dart outside. He crawls and climbs over every obstacle, and barely notices the mulch and gravel on his soft-skinned palms.
Meanwhile, Zoe can spend hours digging in the vegetable beds. We have not put in warm-season crops yet, so she has plenty of space to dig. She buries onion sets all around, gently crooning to them: "Here you go, little fella, here's your nice warm bed. Do you want your mama?"
Let me be truthful. There are many things that become a bit more challenging when you have children. Grocery shopping, showering, sleeping....but gardening is transformed into an activity that has even more joy and purpose than ever before. It becomes a lifestyle. I am truly looking forward to watching the summer unfold, and the children with it.