I love a space that becomes a playground for adults as well as children. I think that is a big “box ticked” when you can design a space that adults can engage with in a playful manner either on their own or with children. Some things to bear in mind when creating a family garden design;
Consider the ages of the children. They will get older, and try and include things that have longevity are really important. Swings will come and go but if you can include things that fire up their imagination such as tunnels, structures and tents, things that they can adapt and make their own, I think you are pushing the boundaries of learning and making potential designers and architects.
A simple strong timber frame, or cube, allows for a myriad of apparatus to be hung from it. It is a design trick that are used frequently as it works in most size gardens and is a super efficient way of managing children in a garden design in a small space. When they are young it could be used to hang a swing from it and as the years go by the swings can turn into hammocks and the hammocks turn into hanging pods.
These timber frames can also be used to create dens. Simply by decorating old sheets you can turn it into a castle, jungle, seaside scene, the possibilities are endless, temporary and the children get to create their own environment.
Teepees are great structures. I love the fact that they provide children with a garden house, but you can get them at at height and are not babyish in their appearance. Adults can get inside them and enjoy them. They can be used for camping out on a balmy summers evening. It can also be easily dismantled and taken with for a festival or other outdoor events should the need arise.
If you do need to include a climbing frame or play apparatus it is great if you can integrate it with the landscape. Such as having a swing from a tree or putting a slide over a planting bed and create a route where the children need to run round in order to climb up the slide again.
Outdoor blackboards are really simple way of creating fun for children in the garden. Again they can choose what backdrop they like on any given day. It doesn’t really date or age with the child, and adults can get involved in creating giant murals as well. They also super efficient way of covering up ratty fencing!