How can you create a family friendly garden? Getting everyone off the sofa, away from screens and out into the fresh air can only be a good thing. So, here are our tips on turning your outdoor space into somewhere special for the whole family to enjoy.
Set up a play area in your garden
If you want to maintain your well-tended flower beds, giving the kids their own play area can relieve wear and tear and avoid family tensions. This could be as simple as setting aside an area of lawn or decking where kids can run around, throw a ball, or ride their scooters. If you want to go for something more elaborate, you could consider investing in some play equipment. Don’t assume you need a huge garden for this – check out this clever climbing frame from Selwood, which has a small footprint but does not skimp on fun.
Let them get muddy
It is now widely accepted that getting muddy is good for kids. As well as being great fun, it builds immunity, making children less susceptible to illness. Digging in the garden and making mud pies are age-old favourites for young children. If you really want to encourage them to get their hands dirty, then you could consider a mud kitchen. DIY enthusiasts might want to make their own, but Mud Kitchen London makes beautiful mud kitchens to order.
Nurture an interest in nature
Spending time in the garden is a great way for children to learn to appreciate nature – whether it is learning birds’ names and songs, or searching for minibeasts under pots and plants. Installing bird feeders and bug houses is a fun way of attracting wildlife and helping it to thrive. Growing the right plants is also crucial if you want your garden to be a haven for birds, bees and other wildlife. The RHS has some excellent advice on this here.
Encourage little green fingers
For many keen gardeners a fascination with plants starts early. Giving children a small patch of land can not only teach them about gardening, but also about responsibility and patience. Taking a trip to the garden centre together to choose some seeds would be a great way to fire up their interest. For younger children it is worth choosing some that will yield quick results, such as climbing beans, sunflowers, sweet peas, nasturtiums and marigolds.
Dawn Isaac’s Little Green Fingers blog is a great source of ideas and inspiration for getting your children into gardening.
Enjoy al fresco family meals
Family meal times are more relaxed and more fun outside. There is no reason why you have to wait for the perfect sunny day; as long as it is dry and not too cold, dining al fresco can transform a midweek family meal from something mundane into something really special.
There is such a wide range of garden furniture available these days that you are sure to find something to suit your taste. With our love of style and sustainability, we particularly like the range of outdoor furniture from fellow Cornish company Sustainable Furniture. If you are planning large family gatherings, how about their ten seater dining set?
Keep your garden safe for children
Safety has to be the number one consideration when you are planning a garden for your growing family. Of course, this will change as your children grow, and what is safe for older children is not the same as what is suitable for toddlers. For example, if you have babies, toddlers or young children, a pond is a serious safety issue and many parents choose to fill theirs in.
Although poisoning from garden plants is extremely rare, it is important to be vigilant. The RHS has some good information on poisonous garden plants, but a good approach is to teach your children not to eat any garden plants.
Selecting the right surfaces for your garden is also crucial. Many families are put off choosing timber decking because it gets so slippery when it is wet, so can be unsafe for children who want to run around. Opting for non slip decking is a great way of achieving a smart, contemporary look for your garden, while relaxing in the knowledge that your children can run around in all weathers. For a family garden, we would recommend buying Gripsure Home from our online shop or your local Homebase or perhaps our decking tiles, which are very easy to install.
With our gardens, as in all areas of life, our priorities change when we have a family. And as our children grow and develop, a well designed garden can continue to provide them with somewhere to play, relax, learn about nature and perhaps even instil an early love of gardening.