My Smart Guide To… Designing A Contemporary Family Garden

When you've got kids, it seems planning your home and garden can be a constant battle between the latest stylish designs and what is practical and safe for a space where youngsters will be.

But this doesn't mean you have to make compromises. In fact, with a little careful planning, you can create a space that's both a great place for adults and offers all the things children want too.

In the garden, there are are several things you need to think about to create an outdoor environment that's contemporary, stylish and practical and we've highlighted several areas that need your attention.

Arranging your space

The key to a contemporary family garden is how you make the best use of space. You'll want to find a balance between bedding, open lawn and decking areas where the whole family can relax.

Think about splitting your space into a series of 'zones' with a combination of surfaces, marked out by foliage or flower beds. A wooden deck or patio is a great place for children to play and can also be used by mum and dad for entertaining. Obviously, a good, open lawn space where the kids can run and play ball games is also a must, but it doesn't have to dominate the space - you can still think about adding sections such as fine gravel for a distinctive, contemporary look.

Choosing your plants

When you've got kids running around, it can be a headache trying to keep delicate, high-maintenance plants safe from their games. Instead, think about sturdy, robust foliage that can withstand the occasional miskicked football that might take the heads off more fragile flowers.

But robust doesn't have to mean boring. Try and gather a range of plants that can offer a variety of leaf shapes, scents and colours for vibrant, interesting borders. The Royal Horticultural Society offers a few suggestions for plants to grow that kids can help out with, including Sweet Peas, Clarkias and Sweet Williams, which are all hardy perennials that can bring great splashes of colour to a garden.

Encourage wildlife

There's nothing kids love more than exploring and discovering new things, so encourage this with steps that will attract a variety of wildlife. Bird baths and feeders will attract a range of feathered friends to a space that will delight youngsters and adults alike.

If your children are old enough, a pond might also be a great addition to a garden, attracting lots of wildlife and providing a focal point. However, if you're doing this, you need to make sure kids are supervised and taught about safety, while they're not suitable for the very young.

For mum and dad

But garden's shouldn't be devoted entirely to the whims of your offspring, as having a place for parents to entertain and relax on long summer evening is also essential to get away from the stresses of everyday life. If you're fitting a patio or decking area, make sure it's big enough for a table and set of chairs so you can enjoy an al-fresco family meal or host friends.

Add to this with a patio heater, barbecue or comfortable light wood lounging chairs for a relaxing, contemporary environment that can be enjoyed by all the family.

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