“You can design and create, and build the most wonderful place in the world… but it takes people to make the dream a reality.” Walt Disney
Are Children’s Gardens a thing of the past?
Sometimes I wonder if ‘gardening’ is becoming a lost art. In today’s world you can build your own virtual garden, grow your own virtual vegetables, feed your virtual animals, and slay the Fire Breathing Dragon. Where does gardening fit in? If this is today’s reality, we really need to be creative to draw children outdoors and into Nature.
In many of our new landscape projects, backyards are being gobbled up with stonework, pools, and decks. So where is the space for flowers and vegetables? The children’s garden? The garden where fairies come to dance on the petals of dewdrop flowers, where toads come to reside in the dark corners, where birds come to feed on nectar sweet blooms, where little fingers dig in the soil, and where nature comes alive.
A thoughtful children’s garden design creates excitement, it stimulates young minds, provides mystery, and is a place of discovery. Outdoor Joy!
It’s all about creating opportunities. To touch, see, do and be creative. To learn from nature. To learn from each other in play. For families to be able to use their outdoor space for ‘together time’.
Designing for Children. Little Fingers. Big Ideas.
Children learn with their senses. All of them. They want to touch the pretty flowers and soft leaves; smell the fragrant blooms; and watch the dancing butterflies. They will slay the Fire Breathing Dragon with their buddies, play Hide & Seek with neighbour friends, and dig holes in your backyard to create a great hideout. At least they did in my backyard. They will watch bees gather pollen from blooming flowers from a safe distance. You can plant a few veggies in patio containers so kids can feel the wonder of watching seeds spout. Hang baskets of strawberries from decks or trees just to see kids sneak the strawberries. Plant fruiting shrubs like blueberries for late summer harvest. Grow pumpkins and watch the magic of the curling, twinning vines and huge yellow blooms become pumpkins.
Not all kids want to run around, some just want to watch and read. Create a great viewing location for ‘watching the world go by’. It’s okay to be an observer.
Children get bored easily so create areas for them to move from place to place. A chalkboard mounded on a wood fence, a sandbox beach, or a tree swing. They can make music with pots and pans, blow bubbles, add worley gigs to their gardens for colour and movement, build a toad house, feed the birds, or just lay in the grass and look up at the sky.
If you’ve ever walked through the mall with a child you know, kids can’t just walk in a straight line, they’ve got to skip, and dance, and jump. All that energy has to go somewhere. Driveways are great for hop-scotch made with sidewalk chalk, a low spot in the yard becomes a great place to jump in a puddle in your rubber boots after the rain. Build a fort in the backyard with lawn chairs and blankets, put up a tent, or construct a simple a raised deck as a stage for dancing and singing – and of course a classic – a simple lawn sprinkler on a hot day and a couple kids in bathing suits. What could be more fun!
For your peace of mind, ensure you have clear sight lines to watch children play. We want kids to be safe, so keeping an eye on children at play from the house (or a lounge chair) is part of a great landscape design.
It’s All Child’s Play
If you want to create a great outdoor space for children … Think like Them. Children see the world in simple terms so ‘Keep it Simple’. Give them flowers. Give them space. Give them the joy of being Outdoors.