A garden wonderland for children

It’s so important to encourage kids away from their screens to have fun outdoors and learn from imaginative play. If they have a safe space in the garden, where they can explore and get creative, kids can learn a huge range of skills. With careful planning and a little imagination you can design a garden that includes play areas for the kids, as well as space for the whole family to enjoy. 

Was this guide useful?

Planning the play area

First consider your children’s ages and the available space. While it’s a good idea to look ahead, having age appropriate play right now is key. Toddlers need to be close to the house, in full view with a secure perimeter. As children grow, having time ‘out of view’ from parents is important for their development - so playhouses and hidden ‘dens’ are great. Teenagers like privacy so the furthest end of the garden will come into its own at this stage!  When planning the garden, think about ‘grown-up’ areas, play areas and combined spaces, so everyone has what they need.


Discover our full kids' activity range

Planning your play area
Safe area for tots

Safe area for tots

When designing for toddlers safety is the priority. Consider wall and fence heights to discourage climbing and ‘escape’.  If you have a pond, install a solid wire grille or fence - or fill it in to prevent accidents. Shaded areas are vital for hot days so consider a gazebo or pergola - or a natural structure like a sweetpea or bean ‘tent’.


Kids' adventure tent

Sandpit play & safe fun with water

Sandpits provide hours of fun for small children. Choose play-grade sand and use a cover to keep it clean when the kids aren’t using it. Add deckchairs so the adults can sit alongside and enjoy the fun. 


Water toys or a small paddling pool are great for younger children to enjoy under supervision. Older children still need supervision, but will love a larger pool for when their friends are round.


Freestanding Waterslide With Ladder

Sand play
Learning about nature

Learning about nature

Children will be fascinated by nature if you show them how to encourage wildlife into the garden. Bug hotels are fun to build using discarded pipes, logs drilled with holes, piles of twigs and leaves. Hang bird feeders and give the kids binoculars and a bird checklist to discover which birds visit the garden. Fire their imaginations by creating a bird ‘village’ using a collection of birdhouses, feeders and watering bowls.


Gardman Wooden Paint Your Own Nest Box

Grubby play

If you’re relaxed about your child getting grubby, there are lots of fun options - from homemade mud kitchens made from old wood pallets to a simple muddy patch with buckets and spades.


Timber Potting Bench

Grubby play
Imaginative play

Imaginative play

Playhouses are great for imaginative play. There’s a huge choice from small, brightly coloured plastic houses to huge wooden creations. Encourage children to personalise their space by painting wooden buildings and adding flowers for colour.


Mercia Playhouse with Slide

Adapt surfaces for the kids

Mowing around play equipment can be awkward - and durable, softer surfaces are better for safety. Rubber tiles are great for taking knocks and bumps, while bark chippings give a natural look and coloured artificial grass adds contemporary colour. Paint a plain, rendered wall a dark colour to give little ones chalk-drawing opportunities and a great backdrop for growing plants.


Aslon Rubber Tile with Grass

Adapting surfaces for kids
An unstructured space for children

Unstructured space & exploration

If you can leave an untended wild area, children will love the freedom to explore and create in an unstructured way - whether it’s building a den, creating fantasy areas or climbing trees. They benefit hugely from using their imagination to build their own games from scratch, but keep the area safe by removing thorny bushes, nettles and toxic berries and plants. A string of solar lights will extend their play time and add sparkle to their creations.

Toy storage

To keep toys in good condition and give adults uncluttered space, design in plenty of storage. Positioned next to the play area, outdoor storage boxes are ideal for tidying away toys. Keep grown-up tools and harmful chemicals at a high level in a closed shed for peace of mind. 


23 Litre Oval Flexi Tub

Children's outdoor toy storage
Ideas for older children

Ideas for older children

Generally, teenagers won’t see the family garden as a ‘cool’ place to be unless you make specific provision for them.  Create a party space where they can sit in deckchairs or outdoor sofas, under trees or a gazebo. Consider putting up a decorative screen with string lights to illuminate the ‘party’. Paint log slices with glow-in-the-dark paint to use as tables and use tall planting to provide privacy and deaden the noise. Add an ice bucket for drinks and an outdoor music system and your teens are more likely to spend time in the garden with their friends.


Rowlinson Gazebo

Fun vegetable gardens for kids

Encouraging children to grow vegetables is rewarding for all the family and a great learning resource. A dedicated area that they can plan and tend gives kids a sense of achievement and pride. Grow quick-growing varieties, giant pumpkins and sunflowers and add a measuring stick to see whose grows the biggest.


How to make a mini veg garden


Children's Strawberry Seeds Growing Kit

Fun veg gardens for kids
Family time

Family time

Summer evenings and weekends are perfect times for the family to relax together.  Full-scale outdoor cooking and dining is growing in popularity and many of us have outside kitchen set-ups, pizza ovens and ‘comfy as indoor’ furniture. Sitting round a fire-pit with blankets will extend the chat after the temperature drops and lanterns on side tables create a warm ambience. 


La Hacienda Icarus Fire Pit  Palermo Rattan Effect Corner Sofa Set

You may also be interested in: