Getting outside into the garden is a really healthy thing for you and your kids but if you’ve just got a soggy patch of lawn and not much else, you’re unlikely to be tempted. But equally, if you have a perfect ornamental garden, you won’t want your kids kicking a ball about there either.
Creating a kid-friendly garden is all about finding a compromise between beauty and practicality. You need a space that the whole family can enjoy without worrying about a few flowers getting accidentally trampled by rambunctious children.
Even if gardening or garden design isn’t really your thing, creating a space that everyone can enjoy together is really important. Just as you have designed each room in the house for a particular function, the garden requires some attention too. While throw cushions and photos aren’t quite going to work here, all the principles are the same: this space has to be functional, it has to reflect your personality and it has to be beautiful.
Designate a Play Area
Kids need space to blow off some steam and the garden is perfect for that. Adding outdoor toys such as a climbing frame, swing, or a football net will give them plenty to do outside and get them away from screens. To make this area a year-round zone, you could use New Lawn artificial grass which won’t get muddy or end up dead by the end of the summer season!
Building a treehouse or wendy house in the garden is another great way to tempt your kids out. Having a den they have helped to make themselves gives your kids ownership and a chance to get away from the grownups. A simple shed can be used to create the perfect den, just add some brightly coloured paint to decorate and some solar powered fairy lights for some extra magic.
Putting plants in the play area is also a great chance to teach your kids about taking care of the natural world. Using herbs is a good idea as many are quite hardy and they certainly won’t do any harm to curious toddlers who like to chew everything they come across. The more interest you can cultivate in green foods early on, the easier it will be to persuade your kids to have a balanced diet later on.
Create a Grown-Up’s Zone
Now the kids have their area, what about the adults? You might not want a climbing frame or a swing but you will probably want a seating area to relax in. This area could also be suited to more delicate plants, though you might not want to count on their safety unless you want to fence this area off! Alternatively, you could use tall grasses like bamboo which may be more resistant to footballs.
Raised borders are a really good idea in a family garden as they are much less likely to get trampled on and are easier to maintain too. Plant up using hardy shrubs and trees for plenty of greenery and then tuck flowers in between. This should help to protect more delicate plants. Plus, small walls are ideal for putting out cushions and creating an impromptu seating area without having to invest in bulky outdoor furniture.
If you like entertaining, a fire pit is the perfect option for this area. The warmth of the flames will keep everyone cozy into the evening and you could add a cooking rack too as an alternative to a BBQ. There are lots of campfire recipes you could try at your next event from skewers to marshmallows. While you might not like to light the fire while the kids are running about and playing, they will love gathering round for campfire stories later on.
Plant Pots and Projects
Just as raised borders aren’t as easy to trample, plant pots will raise your plants up and should be protected from too much damage. Container gardening is easier than you might think, though you will need to keep an eye on the amount of moisture in the pot. Good drainage is just as essential as plenty of water. Any plant will be happy in a pot as long as it is big enough and contains enough nutrients.
The other advantage is that you can move pots around according to how you want to use the garden. For example, you might want to tuck the pots out of the way to create a bigger play area during the summer but then reinstate the pots for their autumn flourish. To make moving plant pots easy, load your empty pots onto caster trays first, then plant them. This way, even if you can’t lift a pot, you can wheel it into the right position.
Plant pots are also ideal for small projects with your kids too. Growing herbs is just the start of their culinary adventure and pots are great for growing veggies too. Container garden projects can start as small as putting a seed on some paper towel but as your kids grow up, giving them bigger pots to experiment with is a good idea. As your kids learn more about the garden and looking after plants, they are also more likely to be more careful when they are playing.
Gardening is never a one-off project so getting the whole family involved with the maintenance and play is really important. Going outside and interacting with plants is a healthy activity for kids and, if you are willing to set aside some space to grow fruits, vegetables and herbs, will encourage a healthy lifestyle inside too. Teaching children to respect nature is a vital part of growing up, especially given the current state of our planet.
The garden should be a fun space that everyone can enjoy in their own way. Even if you don’t have enough room to zone out your yard, make sure that there is something for everyone, from seating to toys. Over time, your garden will grow with you so be patient and build up slowly. A garden is for life, not just a season.
Got Something to Add?
Do you have any tips for creating the perfect family garden? Let us know by commenting below.
Until next time, thanks for reading.
Helen, Nial and Lewis.