A garden for a family has to please everyone from dad, who wants a spot to relax and cook the barbie, mum who wants some nice scents flowing from the garden bed and young Charlie who wants his adventure. A standard garden often includes a basic set of requirements such as entertaining areas, service areas, recreation areas, some garden beds, sometimes fruit and vegies, oh and of course paths and a story to link it all together.
It’s with these basic garden elements that as a designer we get to challenge the ordinary, and have a bit of fun with sometimes, especially when thinking of areas for kids. Well, what if we take all these general garden inclusions as mentioned and start to think ‘well how can I make this garden work better for a kid?’ See in this position we have to be able to think about a vehicle where children want to tell their tale, to answer the questions that every bend in the path asks of them as they wander through…
So here’s some ideas to get us on the right track when thinking of some child friendly elements. Why can’t the ordinary clothesline, instead of being the norm, become a spider web that doubles as an artwork that flickers in the winter sunlight so Charlie can be Spiderman every so often?
Why does the entertaining area need to be square paving? Yes it makes good sense that it contains a good amount of space. But why can’t we mimic the organic shape of the garden or the more natural landscape? Maybe we can have some patterns such as some leaves printed to the edge of the surface that will bring a smile to the viewer and give a child a theme for games to be set around.
I believe the best way we can design to include a child, is to think like a big kid. So what are some key points for a kid? Well here are the words that come to my mind – adventure, imagination, playful, fun and freedom. These feelings are often activated by our senses capturing the imagination of a place. Here we look for sights, sounds, smells and touch to draw us further and further in.
We can also think about the wild side of nature as it also stimulates these senses. Places such as forests, bushland and beaches trigger an emotion for a child, such as “what can I go and find?” It’s raw, it’s real and it’s better then any computer game. I remember as a child there was nothing better then going away for a couple of weeks at Christmas time to the beach and roaming around the rocks and sand dunes for days simply to find a cave that would become our hide out for the rest of the trip. We would gather sticks and rocks that would become part of the day’s games to throw, build or scratch around with.
So with these ideas in mind, we can look to build the adventure back into our own home garden. So how do we do this? Well I think it comes back to our making our basic set of requirements and then challenging them.
Our garden beds need to build up a character or setting
The paths can twist and bend and let you wonder
Our recreation areas can be fun areas to play
Our features can create movement and pleasure
Our fruit and vegies can be entertaining and educational
The garden can have areas that don’t have to be tidy, so they’re ready for adventure.
And we can make a garden that’s fun for everyone….