Before you had children, what did you envisage your garden would look like? An Eden of rose trellises, gentle birdsong and manicured lawns? Well, you’d be wise to put those ideas to one side for now, knowing full well that youngsters don’t always have a ton of respect for boundaries (flowers and fences included). However, your garden can be both beautiful and family friendly, if you know these insider tips…
The first thing you need to do when creating your idea of the perfect family garden is plan how you’re going to use it. Are the kids getting free reign to kick a ball around the entire thing, or do you have enough land to section a portion off? Take out a large sheet of paper and set to work sketching out a design, accounting for all the things you garden needs to do: accommodate rambunctious children, give the grown-ups somewhere to relax, and provide you with somewhere to hang the washing.
Play areas are important, and sectioning off a part of the garden dedicated to the kids (by adding a swingball post, some green space or a climbing frame for example) will mean that they’ll naturally want to hang out in their section rather than stamping all over your flower beds. Just keep the play area away from parts of the garden that can be easily damaged, and remember that a shed or garage will be useful for storing their bikes and toys.
In addition, grown up areas are important too. You might want a patio or decking area so you have somewhere to eat outside and entertain friends, and perhaps you’ve been hankering after a herb garden or vegetable patch. So, write a list of your ‘garden must-haves’ and play with your design until you’ve accommodated as much as of it as possible.
Then, get clever with your vertical space. If you’re worried your delicate flowers are going to get a hammering with the kids around, consider climbing roses and other plants that will grow skywards up a trellis. You can also plant herbs and blooms in pots that hang from fencing, meaning you can keep them off the ground whilst still injecting wonderful colours and fragrances into your garden. If you’re on the lookout for beautiful blooms, check out the bulbs available from Bakker Spalding Garden Co or head to your nearest garden centre.
Finally, a little bit of education is a good idea when it comes to creating a family garden.
For example, let the kids know that patio area doesn’t mark the edge of their goal post – it’s a place where we all eat and sit together – and that the barbeque is just as hot as the oven and therefore is only something for the grown-ups to handle!
That said, it’s worth remembering that family gardens are supposed to be fun and joyful: try not to be too precious about the garden’s contents and instead make the most of having fun with your family for now. There’s plenty of time to compete in flower shows once the kids have grown!