Children’s Garden

With most garden designs, whilst there is a need to make the garden appealing for the adults in the family, it is often also an important part of the brief to ensure that the garden is suitable for children.

This is not simply ensuring that there is an area of lawn large enough for a trampoline or paddling pool, but also, and more importantly, that it is a place of play and discovery, somewhere that encourages the children away from the television or computer. It can also provide a chance for you to have some quality time with your children, whilst reconnecting with nature at the same time.

Capturing their sense of adventure

Children enjoy finding secret places and secret paths to take them into the unknown, so rather than having a wide open expanse of lawn (often leaving the plants squashed against the boundary) the garden can be designed to create pockets of these secret places and routes giving children the option of paths and places to hide in. A path hidden among planting could lead to an open area of lawn for play, or there could be a hidden space among trees and shrubs.
Simple stepping stones can add interest as children want to leap from one to the other. By using log sections of different heights there is more of a challenge.

You can also build in other features such as creating a turf mound or spiral for them to sit on or a willow wigwam for them to hide away in, or add elements such as blackboards or mirrors to the wall.

If you have a suitable tree, a tree house can be the ultimate adventure. They are better hidden amongst the trees to give that sense of secrecy. (It is worth checking if you need planning permission.)

Creating interest using features and materials

Small pebbles often capture interest and these could be loose or made into a mosaic. A tile mosaic can also add interest through shape and colour and can be something you could make together. These could then be incorporated into paving or hung on a wall.

Creating interest with plants

Plants can offer great stimuli for a child's senses through their texture, colour, scent and form.


Topiary shapes, whether formal spheres or quirky forms, can create interest and fun in a garden. Some plants have interesting flower heads such as Alliums with their globe shaped heads.


Grasses like Stipa and Miscanthus are particularly good at providing movement in the garden as they sway in the breeze.


Interesting textures can include the softness of the leaves e.g. Alchemilla mollis (which also attracts children due to the water droplets which sit on the leaves) and Stachys byzantina which has soft furry leaves.

Learning in the garden

You can use the garden to teach children, not only about gardening, but by providing an opportunity for creative development and an appreciation of nature and wildlife, and the cycles of life.

It is important to try and give children a plot of their own with their own tools, to encourage a sense of responsibility. They could sow simple seeds, water them and watch them grow. They could grow something that they could eat, to learn to appreciate where food comes from. Raised beds or pots can sometimes be easier for them to reach. By having this area close to the house, children will be more likely to keep an eye on the progress of their work, and easier for you to keep an eye on them.

By adding plants that attract bees, butterflies, birds and other wildlife, you can allow children to get up close to nature and be enthralled by it. You can encourage birds into the garden by offering seeds and fresh water.

You can also use the garden to teach numeracy and literacy in an interesting way. For example, you could paint stones with letters which can be re-arranged into words, or you could get the children to count the number of petals on a flower, or how many stems there are.

You could play other games, such as asking the child to find something beginning with a specified letter of the alphabet or to find something soft, or red for example.

Of course, their requirements will change over time. In the early years you will want them close by and they will need more supervision, but later on, they will be able to and often want to play by themselves and have time on their own or with friends.

Water in the garden

Whilst open water is beautiful and can attract interesting wildlife, it is dangerous for small children. However, you could install a closed circulating system such as a bubble fountain or have a small wall fountain with a grate over the water.

Large play equipment

If you do want a large piece of play equipment, consider screening it from the house using trellis or plants.


Safety is a big consideration in a garden and any tools and chemicals must be locked away securely. Also, take care that there are no fall hazards and sharp corners in the hard landscaping.

Some plants e.g. Foxgloves and Euphorbia, are irritants or even toxic if eaten and others have sharp spines e.g. Berberis and Pyracantha, so these should be avoided.

Take care to clear up any cat poo as this can cause infections. It can be particularly bad in areas of newly cleared ground, gravel or sandpits. Try to teach your child to keep their hands out their mouth and to wash them after being in the garden as all soil carries tetanus which can infect through an open wound.

“We were really impressed with the design service offered by Jayne. Jayne was able to take our initial brief and translate this into a stunning contemporary design that really made the most of the small space we had and provided a great backdrop to our new kitchen extension. The combination of hard landscaping and planting have completely transformed the garden. Over several meetings she was able to communicate the concepts and hone the design and even sample materials. She then recommended and then liaised with the landscaper to ensure the implementation went to plan before completing the final planting.”

Mrs Fenner
Marston Moretaine

"I found Jayne to be very friendly and pleasant to work with. The design is lovely - very attractive. I was impressed with Jayne's willingness to adapt to and take account of our cost constraints and likes and dislikes regarding plants. All work was carried out efficiently and pleasantly. Jayne was always ready to discuss and advise about design and plants and has transformed a boring and rather difficult small garden into an interesting area which will only improve as the plants grow and mature."

Mr & Mrs Barwell
Welwyn Garden City

We love our garden now. Our two dogs had pretty much destroyed it and it had become an embarrassment. We never used it, not even just for ourselves. It now has structure and a proper patio area and is always good to look at even in this bleak weather!

This will be our second spring with it and I'm really looking forward to seeing everything grows again and how it will change this year.

Mr & Mrs Crooke

Jayne was always totally reliable, whether coming out to look at the garden or providing plans and ideas, and is a very knowledgeable plantswoman.

She had a good understanding of what I wanted to do with the garden, and always listened to my ideas and then made suggestions that were appropriate to the location and aspect.

Mr & Mrs Townsend
Houghton Conquest

Jayne's ideas of how to transform a long straight garden into something more interesting were quite inspirational. By introducing shape and perspective the garden now has structure.

The planting plan she suggested has added interest and constant colour which changes with the season.

Needless to say we are delighted.

Mr & Mrs Collier

We were delighted with Jayne's approach to our garden and her understanding of what we were trying to achieve.

Her knowledge of plants and what will actually work is fantastic.

Three years on we are still delighted with our garden.

Mr & Mrs Bryant

Jayne has a real passion for gardening and her knowledge of plants is highly impressive. She seems to know exactly which plant will thrive in a particular part of the garden - sunny, shady, soil type and so on. She also thinks about the proportions and overall effect.

To work with, she is extremely flexible and happy to give you just the bits of advice or help you need.

Mel Henson
Welwyn Garden City