Designing a garden for the whole family includes considering the needs of its smallest members, with the ideal backyard luring the littlies away from their screens and into the great outdoors. Sounds like an impossible dream? Designing a garden for kids is actually simpler than you might expect.
Get adults outdoors
If there’s a secret to getting kids into the garden, it’s as simple as this: get mum and dad outside. Kids want to be around their parents and will happy to play outside if their mum or dad is nearby – even if they’re just sitting in the vicinity with a coffee and the paper. If you choose to install a trampoline or similar piece of oversized play equipment, most people’s first instinct is to hide it down the bottom of the garden where you won’t have to see it, but if you do so, it’s likely to end up a rusty still life. Kids don’t want to feel banished to a boring corner, so you’re better off biting the bullet and accepting the trampoline next to the house, at least for a few years.
Create a sense of adventure
A common assumption is that a kid-friendly garden requires a blank expanse of lawn, but unless your child is a budding soccer star, this is really not the case. What kids really love is a garden that inspires their imaginations. They love changes of level, stairs to sit on and bushes to hide in. They love a sense of movement, dappled light and plants that change with the seasons – all forms of sensory stimulation. Interestingly, kids are possibly more likely to play on a paved surface than a grassed one, as the former allows them to ride scooters, bounce balls, draw with chalk and myriad other activities that they can’t do on turf.
Equipment and accessories
If you want to create special features in the garden just for the kids, there are plenty of options, from trampolines and swing sets to sandpits (though beware the resulting mess inside!) and chalkboards. It pays to keep most of these fairly temporary, as they are likely to grow out of it fast, the possibly exceptions including a trampoline or a fort. If you’d rather keep your garden as an adult space, never fear – the kids will be just as entertained by sculptures, built-in furniture and whatever else you choose to fill your space, with their active imaginations transforming the most grown-up garden into a dream play space.