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Designing a small play garden

(17 Posts)
BoffinMum Mon 30-Jan-17 14:35:53

I have a design challenge ahead and would welcome input from MNetters. (When I did this with our garage gym it worked brilliantly!)

I am doing up a Northamptonshire cottage that has been in the family a long time (and which has featured on MN before as the subject of various family sagas) for holiday lets. It is near a river, so we are going to provide a small enclosed play area for people to sit in and have a glass of something while young children play, so they aren't chasing about preventing them drowning the whole time like I had to when mine were little.

The piece of land is 14m by 4m approx and it slopes a bit, down towards the river. It has a wall along two sides, a hedge at the bottom, and we are going to put a picket fence around the rest of it, with a gate at the bottom end.

The big question is how shall we create this children's garden in a way that complements a chocolate box country cottage directly next to it, in other words so it looks like something tasteful and aspirational off Pinterest. It is currently a bit of a mud patch.

This would be significantly easier as a project if we had a budget for it, of course. Sadly I have spent the budget on a new cooker and extractor fan so I am scraping the barrel a bit. But I might be able to find £200-£300.

I am thinking we need somewhere for parents to sit, and a tasteful playhouse that I might have to acquire off Ebay unless there's a miracle. I have some sit on toys, balls and sandpit stuff I can donate to the cause if necessary. I have an open mind about bunting in this very unusual circumstance, as it might jolly the place up.

I have uploaded one picture from each end of the putative play garden. Ideas, anyone??

BoffinMum Mon 30-Jan-17 14:37:23

PS We were thinking if the bench went right in the middle of the wall, people could also see the river and get a bit of a view.

contractor6 Mon 30-Jan-17 14:40:33

If it's for small children, sensory is the way to go, plastic mirrors, wind kite things, and Twizzlers which move in the wind, some bright paint and maybe a wall of bamboo to hide behind?

BoffinMum Mon 30-Jan-17 16:52:34

Oo, bamboo sounds great, and twirly things, hadn't thought of those.

cestlavielife Mon 30-Jan-17 17:00:25

is the fence going to be high and secure enough to keep small kids and older ones eg autistic in?
have some patio as well as grass.

herbs for scent eg large rosemary bush, bay tree

make sure all plants are non toxic or edible ie dont plant foxgloves!

TranquilityofSolitude Mon 30-Jan-17 17:07:22

How about building a den with willow and growing climbers over it?

BoffinMum Mon 30-Jan-17 17:29:09

The fence will be about 1m high. It's not going to contain an older autistic child as people wouldn't pick that property in such a situation anyway, TBH, for various reasons to do with the interior.

Can't see being able to lay a patio for £2-£300 and there's one around the corner already anyway, so we will probably have to give that idea a miss.

Lavender and rosemary grow really well around there and actually it might be nice to grow them along the fence perhaps, so they poke through and look pretty. Excellent suggestion therefore.

BoffinMum Mon 30-Jan-17 17:29:42

I have looked at the willow dens on Crocus but it looks a bit complicated. Has anybody done this?

booellesmum Mon 30-Jan-17 17:34:43

?barefoot walk area with different feels every few feet - pebbles/gravel/sand/water/earth/bamboo/grass/wood chips?

jumpingcold Mon 30-Jan-17 18:33:46

Safe fence, seat for wine drinking and a couple of cosy coupés would be a good start. Wait until you find a free playhouse on a local selling site (often free if you dismantle them)

venys Mon 30-Jan-17 22:09:39

I think plant your plants in such a way to make hidden spots for hide and seek (it also invites people to walk into your garden). A bunch of plumbing pipes on the wall for kids to roll balls down always keeps them amused. A teepee made from whatever materials you.have to hand. Brightly painted stepping stones made into hopscotch stones. Hammocks or swings. And if you can find one/build one, a slide never goes amiss. Can incorpoate it with something like decking, or a fort or something. (Although that may push the boat out on the budget).

Kiroro Tue 31-Jan-17 14:09:24

Picnic bench to sit at and eat/drink.


Swing. Slide.

Some clumps of tall grasses / bushes to run around and hid behind.

Wouldn't bother with things like a 'sensory herb garden' or stuff - this is just a holiday home not an educational or respite center.

imthelastsplash Tue 31-Jan-17 14:35:52

If it's facing a river how about some laminate sheets with different wildlife they might spot?

LBOCS2 Tue 31-Jan-17 16:32:55

You could do a climbing plant teepee - make a wigwam frame out of bamboo (or taller sticks or branches even), then grow climbers up it - I've seen it done lots with beans but if you're not around to give it tlc then maybe clematis or ivy would work better? Stick some outdoor cushions in there and it's a play nook.

CakeThat Tue 31-Jan-17 17:35:24

If your budget is only a few hundred I'd just do a shingled area with picnic bench and space for BBQ, plus a grassed area for children with whatever else you could afford such as climbing frame, swing, playhouse, swingball etc. A few flowers in pots or in a small border.

jojosapphire Tue 31-Jan-17 23:12:36

A small fairy garden / area might be nice. Also i love the idea of logs at different hights etc as stepping 'stones'

BoffinMum Wed 01-Feb-17 19:28:48

Great ideas. I like the thought of growing a wigwam and I think that would work, and the laminated sheets could be inside the thing with a few outdoor cushions as LBO suggested.

I am thinking of some concrete stepping stones as well now, we have them in our garden and it works really well.

Cake, that's actually not the whole garden, there's loads more including a BBQ area and so on, this is meant to be a garden away from the river only for kids. And pots aren't a possibility as there won't be anyone there to water them (sadly)

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