Creating an ideal family outdoor space

If we look back in time, gardens were generally a formal place where everything had its place. Borders exact and immaculate, lawns cut to within a mm of its life and doused in chemicals to ensure that not even the smallest weed or daisy poked through. Then there were the children! Well, children were the bane of the garden proud lives, tolerated (just) but not to be encouraged, no digging, adventure trials or picking the newly opened flowers.

Now things are all very different, todays family’s don’t necessarily want the garden to be a child free zone, in fact they want to encourage children to be outside more,  the garden is now seen as a place for the whole family, where adults can relax and children can play safely.  However, creating such a space can be harder than you would imagine, a space for the children to play is often dominated by a huge trampoline, and admit it, that bong bong bong can be very irritating, and the trampoline takes up so much space, and ball games on the lawn, usually mean the end of the lawn, which means that eventually, it is a space for the kids, the adults must claim a corner or wait till the children have grown up and left home.

But it does not have to be this way, with a bit of thought, the two can work together very nicely indeed.   

How about getting the children involved in gardening, making the garden an educational tool as well as a place of fun, you would be amazed how veg that the children have grown themselves become very tasty and edible, developing a wildlife garden creates hours of interest and fun as well as setting the tone for  many years of caring for the environment and taking care of animals. 

So how would we go about designing a space for all, first, ask yourself some initial questions and think about the elements, 

Is there room for permanent play equipment, if not think about equipment that can be cleared away.

Think about colour, texture and scent, a family garden need all of these. You can bring in colour by painting furniture, and through planting schemes.

Think about the wildlife, you can set up bird tables, shallow water features, wormery’s and bug hotels.

Always remember, children’s preferences for activity’s change rapidly so be adaptable, A play area close to the house can be ideal for small children, but older children want to be out of sight, the garden is an ideal safe location for this to happen so allow the children some freedom in the garden where they can get muddy and explore. Maybe pitch a tent for them to play in or 

build a den in a corner of the garden which has shrubs surrounding it, this will be their area to explore and create memories in, this will give them a sense of ownership.

Plant will need to be tough so avoid fragile flowers, and steer clear of prickly plants. There are other plants to avoid also, foxgloves are poisonous, as are rhubarb leaves, daffodil leaves and bulbs.