Guest Post: A Space to Have Fun, Learn and Grow – Creating the Perfect Garden for the Kids, Part 1

Helen Spry - domestic garden designer
Today’s first guest post, in a two-part series, is by domestic garden designer Helen Spry.  A mother of two very active boys, Helen has been a domestic garden designer for 10 years.  She operates a garden design consultancy business, Eco Garden Design Pty. Ltd., and an online garden planning website.  Greatly influenced by her great-grandfather and grandfather, who were both garden designers in their time, she has had the advantage of a lifetime of learning.  Her passion and immense interest in domestic design led her to establish, a D.I.Y. garden planning website for the home gardener.  
As parents we can struggle to balance our lives with the added pressure to keep a healthy balance in our children’s lives.  With technology so accessible, it can be an easy option at the end of a long day to give in to their requests.
Imagine coming home and having your children racing to get into the garden!  Here’s some important design elements you can incorporate into your garden to entice your children away from technology.
Working with the space you have is easy.  First prioritise what is important not only for the kids but the whole family.  The amount of space you have to work with will dictate how many of these elements you can use but keep it in perspective.  For example a productive garden in a small space like a custom made 2m² raised garden bed can be just as much fun as a 20m² plot!
Turf and kids
Turfed Areas are important.  What do your children like doing?  Do you have a pet?  Whether it is kicking a ball, playing cricket, chasing the dog or maybe a slip and slide in the summer, an open, weed free lawn space is an important element to a great kids’ space.   Think about what other elements you want and allocate the rest of the space to turf so the kids can run!
Paths leading into remote sections of the garden whether that is behind the garden shed or through the fruit trees in the back corner of your property can be decorated to add interest.  If room allows create paths that children can explore by adding ornaments, sculpture, wall art and things to touch and smell.  The addition of large rocks to climb and jump off of as well as choosing plants that attract butterflies, insects and native animals will make your garden even more interesting with so much to explore.  Screened decomposed granite provides a great cost effective solution to creating an informal path and with the addition of the right plants you can create the most wonderful space to play.  Take a look at this link for plants to avoid.
Productive gardens
A Productive Garden is fun and there is so much to be learnt.  From counting out seeds/seedlings (Math) to learning about the composition of the soil and who lives there and what part they play in keeping the soil alive (Science) and if you also get them involved in the planning of the garden (English) then you are helping them learn valuable skills.  Kids love digging for worms, planting seedlings and best of all harvesting and the understanding this provides increases the chances of them being willing to try the different fruits and vegetables that you grow.  Showing them how to cook the things they have harvested shows them different skills that will last a lifetime.  Incorporating a compost bin or worm farm will get them helping out with the waste from the kitchen (one less job for you to do).  Compost and worm castings are fantastic for the productive garden and will increase the size of your harvest.
Stay tuned for the second part of this guest post where Helen will look at play equipment options to include in the perfect kids garden.