Shade & Plants PDF Print E-mail


According to the Queensland Cancer Fund, one out of every two Australians is likely to be affected by skin cancer in their lifetime. Almost two thirds of skin cancers can be attributed to over exposure to the sun during the first eighteen years of a child's life.

In Queensland, UV radiation levels remain at high to extreme levels year round, whether it is winter or summer. Increasing shade in areas where children play outdoors will minimise unnecessary exposure to UV radiation, and create greater potential to reduce the risk of skin cancer later in life.

Everyone is urged to wear protective clothing and sunscreen to protect themselves from the sun year round. Always consider the most practical ways of enhancing sun protection for children when playing outdoors, which includes seeking shade when outdoors. Providers of supervised play areas should have a sun protection policy and should adhere to their own regulations and guidelines on shade provision.

  • Queensland UV radiation levels are high all year
  • Where possible, minimise the amount of time spent in the sun between 10 am and 3 pm
  • Everyone should wear sunscreen and protective clothing (broad brim or legionnaire style hats (not caps). Be a good role model and "Slip, slop, slap!
  • Help children to identify shady areas to set up games
  • Plant trees that provide maximum shade over play areas or include permanent shade cover in the design of play areas
  • Position play equipment to maximise the use of available shade for outdoor activities (note any existing structures which might provide protection)
  • Apply SPF 30+ broad spectrum sunscreen 20 minutes before you go out in the sun. Reapply every 2 hours after that.


Trees are an effective, economical and attractive way to provide shade. Careful placement of appropriate trees and plants will increase the appeal and value of any play area. Other Shade options are covered in Shade for young children.

Planting different types of vegetation will increase the amenity of your play area. A wide variety of vegetation affords seasonal variations, colour, perfume and wildlife. Trees can provide shade, colour, seedpods, leaves and havens for wildlife; shrubs can screen or divide; and climbing vines can soften fences or provide shade over a pergola. Groundcovers (including grass) provide effective low UV radiation reflective surfaces.

Create a Children's Garden where beds can be planted with annual colour, herbs or vegetables. If you establish a 'bush tucker' garden, educate children to only eat plants an adult gives them, because not all plants, or all parts of plants, are edible.

Some species of plants can present hazards to children, and Kidsafe recommends using a horticulturist or someone with extensive local plant knowledge to assist you in the selection (or identification) of plants.


In general, avoid plants which:

  • Attract large numbers of stinging insects
  • Commonly cause allergic reactions
  • Have spikes, thorns or toxic parts
  • Exude a milky sap - it is usually irritant
  • When mature may affect underground drainage systems or overhead wires
  • Require a lot of pruning or maintenance
  • May overtake your garden or become bushland invaders


  • Camphor Laurel
  • Chinese Elm
  • Privet
  • Easter Cassia
  • Umbrella Tree
  • Cadagi Gum (Euc torrelliana)
  • Singapore Daisy -considered a noxious weed by some councils
  • Japanese Daisy
  • Asparagus fern
  • Morning Glory vine
  • Ochna (Mickey Mouse Plant)
  • Fishbone fern


If you suspect a child has swallowed part of a plant ring Poisons Information (PH: 13 11 26 ) to determine if the plant is poisonous and whether there is a need to seek medical help. If a child shows any symptoms of poisoning, call an ambulance (PH: 000). Alternatively, take them immediately to a doctor or hospital, along with another adult (competent in first aid) other than the driver. Take a piece of the plant with you. A list of the more commonly found poisonous plants is available from Kidsafe House and on this web site.


Poisons Information Centre
Ph: 13 11 26

Queensland Herbarium, Dept of Environment
Ph: (07) 3896 9326

Botany Enquiries
Ph: (07) 3896 9326

Asthma Foundation
Ph: (07) 3252 7677 or 1800 177 948
Web: or

The Low Allergen Garden

Queensland Cancer Fund
Ph: 13 11 20

How to increase the sun protection effectiveness of shade (brochure) and Sun protection in Queensland early childhood services (brochure).

Look for these groups in your local area:


Last Updated on Monday, 24 March 2014 11:57