Solving the issues in Family garden design – something for everyone

garden design

It’s tricky – you have a reasonable sized garden, but everyone in the household wants a piece of it. Family garden design needs some thought and planning. Unless you have a park nearby that you are happy for your children to frequent there is no point creating a beautifully tailored space that your children are terrified to kick a ball around in. However if you give in completely to the needs of your kids then you will spend your time gazing out of your kitchen window on to a cocktail of plastic slides and trampolines. Your garden may well need storage, a dining area, a lawn, a play area, a den, a summerhouse. Planning is key in these gardens where each family member must have a voice.

Small family garden design


If you put an archway into a garden, could a swing hang from it? Better still, could you install a swing that both adults and children could use? Always try to consider how you can cross the boundaries – you may find a way to please all members of the family without argument or excessive expense. In this small side return we used an archway to demarcate the start of the children’s area, provide support for a swing and also serve as an anchor point for the shade sail that the client wanted to include.

Grow things

There is no need to turn your garden into a playground – most areas have public playgrounds that are better than anything you can install. A swing or slide is enough to give them a chance to let off some steam. Trampolines are great fun but big, bulky and (I think) an eyesore. If you want to keep the kids entertained, encourage them to get their hands dirty. Give them their own plot of land, a trowel and some seeds. Growing their own vegetables or flowers will help teach them where their food comes from, how nature works and give them a sense of responsibility.


Gardens are the best places for a den. Tree houses are great, even if you don’t have a tree – a hideaway can be nestled in a mature shrub within a deep planting bed. Tipis are another winner as they are elegant structures which appeal to adults as well as kids. For something a little less conspicuous and more organic you cannot beat a living willow igloo. And of course if all else fails a sheet over the washing line still does the trick!

Artificial Lawn

Although it divides opinion like Marmite, artificial lawn is a great surface for a kid-friendly garden. It is durable, virtually zero-maintenance and mud free. You can leave a sandpit or paddling pool on it for months without it turning yellow and dying. It offers a reasonably soft landing for tumbles and with no mowing required is is also great for mum or dad!


People tend to have a fear of water in a family garden, especially where there are young children. I can understand why but I think there are ways to minimise any danger and make to most of the aesthetic and entertaining benefits of water. An enclosed water feature with underground reservoir offers great fun for children with no real safety issues. It is possible to build a raised pond and cover is securely quite easily to prevent accidents. The educational value of a pond is undeniable: feeding fish, pond dipping and gathering frog spawn were very much part of my childhood.