Designing a garden space that is both practical and easy to maintain is even harder. The idea is to enjoy your very own piece of outdoor space, not spend every spare hour weeding, painting or mowing the lawn. This blog will give you a few simple tips on how to keep your garden family friendly, great looking and easy to maintain throughout every season for years to come.
How to design a family garden
According to the Garden Design Journal, you need to think about how you will use it, how long you plan to stay where you live and how you can make the most of the space you have.
They suggest hideaway areas for the kids to have fun, a decent lawn space, composite decking for dining and raised water features that the children can safely play with.
That’s all for the daytime play, of course. The blog also reminds parents to think about themselves when the sun goes down. “The garden should be a grown-up haven” with a “Sling Space” where toys and play items can be hidden away quickly. That means when it comes to parental me time, you do not have to stare at a Paw Patrol scooter, as it’ll be nicely tided away.
Create storage spaces
We agree that a sling space makes perfect sense. That could be in an unused hideaway in the garden, or by designing a dedicated storage space. Whatever you choose and whatever the budget, practical storage for your entire garden equipment, including toys, is a must. Your natural instinct will be to opt for a standard natural timber shed. These are great but require frequent maintenance and upkeep. This can be easily avoided if you consider other outdoor storage solutions.
Composite Clad Garden House
Garden houses, outhouses, log cabin or shed. Whatever you want to call it, a smaller exterior building is a popular garden statement right now. People are using them for so many reasons, but one thing you can always incorporate is a nice storage area.
Take, for instance, the Garden House we supplied in Bewdley. It was designed to become an office space for the homeowner, but with additional storage, it allowed the owners to remove a typical garden shed.
The design of the Garden House is also on trend. Although it looks like natural timber using a shiplap cladding method, it is in fact, the Ecoscape Forma Composite Cladding in Spiced Oak. Our cladding product is a long lasting and low maintenance alternative to timber. The durable polymer coating, which surrounds the recycled high-density polyethene plastic and reclaimed wood fibres board, forms an impermeable layer that protects from scratching, staining and fading. It also has a hidden fixing system, which will stop little people hurting themselves when they speed past.
Incorporate storage into your seating
Our range of composite decking boards and accessories are so versatile, that they can be used to create a permanent seating area that can incorporate a hidden storage space. This space is ideal for those smaller toys and balls and no one will suspect a thing, especially when you throw a couple of nice cushions over it. They will be no need to do an annual repaint and hidden fixings will keep all your family injury free.
High-level hiding spots
This idea is taken from Homify and is a wonderful solution for hiding larger garden items, such as BBQ’s, bikes and wheelie bins that could distract the kids from playing (heavens forbid).
Their storage inspiration specifies timber, but the same could be created with our multipurpose composite range of boards and panels. We can help bring bespoke designs like this to life, as we will try to solve any fitting questions you and your carpenter/joiner may have.
If your budget is tight, or your DIY skills are not up to much, then using the Ecoscape Panel Screening will easily allow you to create that sling zone without much fuss. Simply find a section of your garden that isn’t used and create a screened area with an open gap that allows the kids to access all their outdoor play toys easily and quickly. We love this idea as it means less time DIY-ing, and more time enjoying!
Prioritise Outdoor Entertaining (even in the UK)
As busy people, sitting and eating together can be one of the only times everyone gets to enjoy each other’s company in a family. It can also be the only bit of grown-up socializing you get to do when friends and family come over for a dinner party, or for cocktail hour. That makes it one of the most important spaces to consider in your easy to maintain garden design.
A dedicated decking area is perfect for this. Find a space in the garden where you can watch the little ones playing safely, and a space that gets as much of the light as possible.
Decking, in general, is a great option for an entertainment area, but traditional timber boards require regular cleaning and staining to keep it looking fresh. It can also be very slippy after a typical English rain downpour, and screws can quickly lift. All of these are a no, no when it comes to young family members.
Consider instead a composite decking board, such as the Ecoscape Clarity®. It is designed to be a long-lasting alternative to timber with extremely durable boards that retain the natural look and malleability of timber – thankfully, without any of timber’s maintenance drawbacks.
There is a good deal of choice in the range too, with five colour options from natural woods to trendy greys and blacks. Clarity will also compliment any landscape design, with the ability to create squared or round edges. The boards are also dual sided, with a wide groove or slim groove option available.
Keeping your entertainment area sectioned off creates a bold, yet practical design feature. Not only will it look great, but it will also keep your little ones safe, especially with raised composite decking areas. Balustrade Systems and frames are a great low maintenance way to create a safe partition, including:
Composite and Glass Balustrade
Combining toughened glass with our Clarity composite newels will create a modern finish that flows seamlessly from your decking area.
Composite Spindle Balustrade
For a more traditional balustrade design, we have all the components to create a composite spindle finish.
Aluminium Horizontal Bars
The horizontal bar system will bring a contemporary feel to your entertainment area. The bars can be powder coated to any RAL colour, so they can blend with the deck boards, or add a pop of colour.
Stainless Steel Upright System
Our 316 stainless steel upright system is a very popular design choice for landscaping. You can choose between glass or wire inserts, which both quick to install and easy to maintain.
Glass U Channel
The U Channel uses a unique clamp system for quick installation. It creates a beautiful modern finish that doesn't hide away your entertainment area but shows it off.
According to a Balustrade Components blog, these systems are durable, easy to maintain, affordable and appealing. What more do you want for a hassle-free garden?
Source: Balustrade Components
In order to create an area that doesn't require any setup time and can be used come rain or shine, consider adding a semi-permanent cover to your entertainment area. The composite decking accessories and screen panels can be used to form a frame that is suitable for semi-permanent covers. We love Idearama's blog on outdoor covers for shade for inspiration, especially the sail design over the rooftop garden.
One of the biggest garden maintenance wows is the upkeep of the lawn. It requires so much of your time and energy, and it's rare to see a perfectly formed lawn unless you have a lot of time on your hands, or you are a professional. From regular mowing and watering in the summer to de-weeding, reseeding and aerating, it feels like a thankless task. It is no wonder that the flagstone patio became a popular choice in the late 80's and early 90's.
That’s why our final suggestion for a maintenance free family garden is to go for artificial grass. It is becoming a very popular choice for family gardens, with several high-quality options on the market that are budget friendly too.
Getting an artificial lawn comes with so many benefits, especially for those who are not green fingered:
You get a green lawn all year round, even in the midst of winter.
You do not need to mow the lawn, ever.
You cannot dig it up.
Artificial turf now looks and feels like a natural lawn
Will drain water much like a natural grass lawn.
Most importantly, Artificial Grass is easy to maintain. A weekly hose down to get rid of dust and debris is required (if it doesn’t rain first) and regular brushing sessions are also required, especially to realign the blades of artificial grass.
Artificial grass is also pet-friendly, with animal mess easy to clean away. You can even invest in turf deodoriser to mask away any nasty smells. You don't even need to use harsh substances or chemicals to remove spills, chewing gum or sticky sweets. You can find some great hacks on how to get rid of these on YouTube.
New Zealand Green Artificial Grass is the latest addition to our product range. We believe that it gives you the chance to sit back and enjoy a lush green lawn all year round with very little maintenance.
We currently have six options within the New Zealand Green Artificial Grass range:
This is a thick grass made up of three vibrant natural colours that are interwoven to give a realistic and luscious looking lawn.
This is a very popular grade that provides a medium cut finish. It is similar to one of the UK's most popular breeds of grass, Dwarf Ryegrass; which is renowned for its thick growth.
This artificial turf is a good option for those who struggle with drainage and lack of water. It never has to be watered (apart from cleaning) and will never have dry patches.
This is very easy to install and proves particularly useful if maintenance isn't possible or practical.
All of our grades are extremely durable, and ideal in areas of heavy usage, like walkways and steps.
Three great steps to a maintenance free family garden
So if you want to spend quality time outdoors in your garden without lifting a finger, we believe that these three ideas will keep you and your family smiling for years to come;
1. Think about storage
From garden houses to hideaway screens, there is a low maintenance way to keep the mess at bay.
2. Make entertaining a priority
That tranquil spot where you can sit and relax, eat family meals together and have drinks on an evening is probably the most important factor to a family garden. Keep yours looking fresh for at least 25 years with composite decking and Balustrade Systems.
3. Go for artificial grass
Not only will spend less time maintaining the lawn, you will also get a highly durable product that will withstand kids, pets and weeds.