Now that spring is officially less than a week away, it’s time to start preparing the backyard play area for another year of serious fun. One piece of play equipment that parents often overlook, though, is the sandbox. Whether you already own a sandbox or are planning to buy or construct one in the upcoming season, here are some important tips for maintaining a healthy sandbox for your kids:
- Replace old sand with new. It’s a good idea to remove old sand from your sandbox every couple of years and replace it with new, clean play sand. Play sand is preferable to ordinary building sand, which can contain clay and other materials that cause staining.
- Examine sand toys for dangers. Digging, raking, scooping, and moving sand takes a toll on sand toys. Even the best sand toys don’t usually last for more than a year or two. When they break or become damaged, toys with sharp or pointy edges can easily cause injuries. Discard damaged sand toys, and replace with new, sturdy ones.
- Keep your sandbox covered. If your sandbox does not already have its own cover, purchase a sandbox cover or have a custom sandbox cover made. Sandbox covers are essential for keeping the play sand clean and safe for use. Harsh weather, yard debris, trash, insects, and outdoor animals can all contaminate play sand and make it unsafe or unfit for use. Tarps and other makeshift covers do not adequately protect sandboxes because they can be easily dislodged by animals or windy weather conditions.
- Inspect sand periodically. Take a few minutes every week or so to check the sand for any broken toys, sharp sticks or rocks, or any other potentially harmful debris. The sandbox is also a good place to look for lost shoes and missing kitchen utensils.
Nothing inspires creativity more than a big box of sand and a few basic tools. With a little preparation, your backyard sandbox will soon be safe and ready for the best imaginative play that your kids can throw at it.