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Green as it might be, a garden makes an excellent blank canvas. Whether you enjoy gardening or just enjoy having an outdoor space to relax in, everybody can find a way to have fun in a garden. When it comes to families, however, you will usually find that everyone wants to be able to use the garden in a certain way. Thus we come to ‘family gardens’: a style that demands versatility, with something for everyone to enjoy.

Deciding on a good family garden design can be a difficult task, especially if you have not taken any time to write down ideas. It can be an excellent idea to book a consultation service with a local landscape designer; they should be able to make suggestions and help you make a solid plan to install the features you want. A gardener can also be a great Pro to call on if you need help choosing garden plants, particularly when it comes to turf. Certain grasses will be more hardwearing or require less maintenance, making them more suitable for an active family.

Keep in mind early on that trying to shoehorn too much into your garden will not do anybody any favours. You will likely end up overspending only to be left with an unattractive and claustrophobic space - remember, less is more! Be sure to measure your garden before anything else (it can be a big help to draw a basic plan) and consider the exact dimensions of any new features before making a purchase.

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Ideas for a family garden

The thing about a growing family is that there are a lot of variables to take into account. Everyone will have their own interests, but you will also need to remember that your kids will be constantly growing and moving onto new things. As such, it can be a good thing to keep things versatile, without committing too much time or money to any single feature. It will also be a big help to actually talk to your kids about how they want to use the garden - they could surprise you with some excellent ideas of their own!

  • Sitting area - This is a simple enough feature: a table with a few chairs for your family and friends to sit and eat at. While this can be a wonderful social space, it can also be used for a variety of activities and outdoor crafts. Remember that a good set of garden furniture can be an attractive aesthetic feature, so think carefully about styles and materials before making your purchase.
  • Lawn/ astroturf - As far as versatility is concerned, you cannot do much better than a beautifully lush lawn. As well as being beautiful to look at, a lawn is also perfect for games and will be much safer for kids to play on than paving slabs or decking. If you are not prepared to maintain a real lawn, you may instead want to consider astroturf. It looks far more convincing than it used to, is easy to clean and can even be installed with an extra layer of padding underneath for safer playing.
  • Play equipment - If you have the space and money available, you may want to consider installing some permanent play equipment such as a climbing frame or rock climbing wall. This can be a wonderful source of exercise, not to mention a great place for your kids to socialise with their friends. That said, you should avoid investing too much money in a fixture which your children will grow out of. Ask your kids what they are interested in and try to choose something which will last a long time. This may sound surprising, but you will also need to keep local planning law in mind. Taller structures like climbing frames and tree houses can often require planning permission, so be sure to check the rules with your Local Planning Authority before getting started on the installation work.

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  • Inset trampoline - An inset trampoline is a fantastic feature for kids of all ages. Digging a hole to sink a trampoline into is hardly a new idea, but in recent years a number of models specifically built as inset trampolines have appeared on the market. Not only are they safer than standing trampolines, but they will also blend more seamlessly into your overall garden design.
  • Adult space - Your kids are not the only ones who deserve to enjoy the garden, so make that you have a space for adults to sit, relax and take in the outdoors. Decking can be an excellent location for this, or you could choose a section of the garden to set up as a seating area. Just make sure that you still have a good view of the areas where your kids will be playing
  • Security - Good security for a family garden is not just about keeping intruders out - it’s also about stopping children from getting into trouble. Look around your garden border and make sure that there are no holes or loose panels in your fencing. Any walls or fences should be too tall for your children to climb over and gates will need to be secured with strong locks.