They always say that you should think of your garden as an extra room in your house and I think there’s never been a year when I’ve agreed with that statement more. Lockdown made me appreciate our back garden more than ever before and we were so grateful for that extra “room” that we had for both the kids and us adults.
In our case though the garden is very much a “room” that needs some work doing to it. Sorting it out has been on the to do list for a while now, but 2020 has moved up the list in terms of priority though.
For us the garden needs to work for us as a whole family. Not only do the kids need to be able to play there safely and have fun, but us adults need to be able to relax in it and not feel like we need to turn into Alan Titchmarsh. Here are my top tips to creating a family friendly back garden.
When you have young kids, especially ones that want to climb everything, you need to think about the edges of your garden. Simply so they can’t escape easily. Look at your fences, and any hedges, and make sure that they are in good order and there are no gaps or holes. Not only does this make your garden secure (in both directions) but also helps the overall appearance too. If the fence panels are looking tired a lick of paint or a coat of varnish can also have a huge effect.
Young kids want to be able to go a bit wild in the garden and why not let them? Split your garden into areas or zones and have rules for each one. If you can have a small plot at the bottom where you can tell the kids that they’re free to do whatever they want and dig the soil as much as they like then they’re more likely to leave your flower beds alone.
The same goes for having all play equipment like trampolines or slides in one area only, and also having a zone for the grown ups to sit in at the end of the day without having to clamber over a ride on tractor to do so!
This may sound a bit strange outside, but garden storage is incredibly important especially if you don’t have a garage. There are plenty of things that kids want out in the garden that you don’t necessarily want to keep inside your house. Buckets and spades, paddling pools, ride on toys, footballs etc, but also things like lawn mowers and other gardening equipment.
Learning how to build a shed is easy and its the sort of job that a couple of you can do in a weekend. Being able to put everything away, especially during winter, is a game changer. Not only does it protect things from the weather, but also helps make the garden so much tidier.
Plants and colour
When it comes to actually planting your garden there are some brilliant books on the market to help you understand what will work and what won’t, but it’s also worth asking your neighbours what has worked for them. After all, they’ve got the same soil as you and probably the same sunny and shady areas. If you’re lucky they may even give you some clippings or seeds to help you do the transformation on a budget.
Lawn – real or artificial
When it comes to what to do with your lawn there are very much two camps when it comes to family gardens. Those people that believe natural is best and stick with a real lawn and the mud that you get in winter, and those that go with an artificial lawn and where children can play out all year without getting muddy.
The right decision for your family may depend on factors like the age of your kids and whether you have pets or not, but at the end of the day if you’re managing to get the kids outside and having fun in the fresh air it doesn’t really matter what surface they’re doing it on.