What Makes a Garden, a Family Garden?

A family garden can be almost any style that has been adapted to provide a flexible space for games, room for entertainment and an area for dining. Here, we discuss some of the elements that make a family garden.

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Rope SwingEnlarge Photo+Shrink Photo-DK - Garden Design © 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Family Gardens in Detail

The concept of a family garden focuses on exactly that: the family and its needs and desires. For sure, eating together is one. Dining areas can be made on large terraces, sometimes with space for a barbecue grill or even an outdoor kitchen.

For play, there are different schools of thought. Some families favor structured play in flexible spaces, where equipment can be changed out over time. For example, a small sandbox located close to the house allows parents to watch their young children more easily. Later, jungle gyms can be constructed a little further away as the kids grow older and seek more adventure.

Other families prefer unstructured play in interesting, organic environments where children climb trees, watch wildlife and explore their own interests. This approach requires a more pleasantly imperfect approach to design in which planting and other elements may be show a little wear-and-tear from their regular use.

Key Design Elements

The children’s area can feature large items of play equipment, such as a swing or jungle gym. If space is limited, some items may still be included by adapting a pergola or similar structure (image 1).

Splashes of bright, primary colors are an essential ingredient in a family garden. These can be introduced via planting, equipment or hard landscaping (image 2).

Part of the children’s area could include a place of their own: a den or tent. It may be sited within view of the house or tucked away in a corner (image 3).

Other Ideas

Plants have to be versatile and tough to withstand rough treatment from children and pets. Closely planted, often with some evergreens and seasonal color, they must also be easy to look after (image 1).

Invite local wildlife to join in the fun, with ponds with sloping sides, birdhouses, small animal habitats and plants to attract bees (image 2).

Seating needs to be suitable for children and adults. Furniture that can be left uncovered all year and requires the minimum of care and maintenance is the most practical (image 3).

Excerpted from Garden Design

©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2009

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