Calling All Kids: A Garden Design Fit for a Family

If the phrase "family garden" conjures up images of hardy turf and a bulky swingset, think again. Here, we give you ideas to make a family-friendly plot that's durable and graceful.

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Plan Ahead When Designing Kids' Play Areas DK - Garden Design © 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Designing or renovating a family garden raises a lot of questions. For example, should you remove a mature tree because its shade prevents you from sowing sun-loving flowers, or do you keep it because it can protect your family from wind, sunburn and nosy neighbors? Here, we present some ideas to consider depending on the size of your project and your family's needs, whether children still young enough to need a dedicated play area or teenagers who will enjoy taking over an outdoor living room when school's out.

Don't forget that making decisions about your garden will be easier if you are very familiar with it. If your yard is new to you, be patient and live with it for several seasons to see what appears and what changes, before you make any dramatic alterations.


New hard-landscaping elements, such as paths, patios and walls, have immediate impact (image 1).

Lay an appropriate surface and add structures that can be changed in the future as your kids' needs change and grow with them (image 2).

Extend your living space by creating areas in the garden for eating, entertaining and relaxing (image 3).

Adapt or Remove

You can adapt planting areas and add new shrubs and perennials, or you can totally change the beds (image 1).

Ponds are ideal for older children, but need a grille over the water feature if you have little ones around (image 2).

Distract attention from an unattractive terrace with tubs of plants (image 3).


Integrate sound, useful structures, such as greenhouses, into your new design (image 1).

Try to work around mature, slow-growing trees if possible; they offer valuable structure and height (image 2).

Keep established plant communities where they thrive (image 3).

Excerpted from Garden Design

©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2009

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