(Above) In the July issue of Gardens Illustrated, we look at how garden designer Carrie Preston designed a stylish garden for the whole family to enjoy. Photo by Maayke De Ridder.

How to make children’s play areas work in a stylish garden

Mixing play areas with planting flair is not as difficult as you might think. Here are a few ideas to make children's play work in the garden.

Can children and beautiful gardens ever really mix? It’s a question many of us ponder, often coming to the reluctant conclusion that the perfectly formed flower beds and elegant vistas we lust after may have to wait until trampolines and climbing frames have lost their allure.

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However, with a bit of thought, play areas can be integrated into gardens in a stylish, non-obtrusive way. Here are a few tips to help you think outside the box.

A garden for the whole family to enjoy featuring a garden room and trampoline has been designed by Garden Designer Carrie Preston
(Above) Garden designer Carrie Preston designed a stylish garden for the whole family to enjoy. Photo by Maayke De Ridder.
  • Try to integrate play areas naturally. For example, combine a climbing frame with a pergola, using the same wood and style to make them appear as a single unit. Solid benches create options for seating, but they are also great fun for children to climb on and jump off, and can provide a flat surface for games.
  • Yes, trampolines are ugly, but children really love them. You can make one less of an eyesore by lowering it into the ground – leaving a hollow area beneath it – and surrounding it with tall, soft planting. Hydrangeas and box hedging are a good choice because they are tough, but soft enough to break any falls.
  • Children, especially young ones, love to run around – often quite literally. Placing a simple bench, table or flower bed in a garden creates a focal point for adults and gives children something to run around in endless circles.
  • Older children like to have their own table and chairs, away from adults. Creating a separate seating area also gives children somewhere of their own in the garden to play.
  • Make sure you include some open areas where you can keep an eye on children, but also ensure you include more hidden areas for them to enjoy their own secret fantasy world.
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Words Marieke Van Gessel