How to Design a Family Leisure Garden


This garden should appeal to anyone who likes a neat and slightly novel layout which would be easy to look after, and support family activity. The patio would enjoy a good deal of sunshine and be large enough for family sunbathing. It combines basket-weave brick paving with 450 mm (18 in) square slabs in a block pattern, with the brickwork highlighting a route through from the side passage to the lawn and the main patio area. Either side of the patio, the fences are well screened by climbers or wall shrubs, and the back of the house could be softened by climbers planted at either end.

The garden is, in effect, divided into two with an informally shaped lawn extending right down towards the far left-hand corner. This would help to make the plot appear slightly deeper than it really is. There is enough space on the lawn for children to play and for a modest amount of play equipment, but if the lawn is to receive little use it could be created from high quality grass.

Family Leisure Garden

Opposite the patio doors a timber decking walkway passes beneath a pergola and between the two generous areas of planting to emerge exactly oppo­site a garden seat. The change of direc­tion in this walkway has been emphasized by a trellis panel which, being set at an angle, has room behind for a compost bin or perhaps a small fruit tree. The timber decking should, ideally, be flush with the patio surface. To achieve this, ground would have to be dug away so that the decking, together with its supporting joists, could be set down at the same level as the patio. The plan suggests that a small stretch of brick edging could be left out so that the timber decking can slot neatly into the patio surface. At the other end, a step down is more likely. I have suggested some brick paving, set flush with the lawn, which would continue around to the left and connect with the garden shed and compost bin. The seat is on a generous area of paving backed by trellis and planting. The corner behind the seat is another utility area.

An alternative to this arrangement would be a hexagonal or octagonal summerhouse (or pergola) tucked well into the corner and joined to the lawn by a short, paved path. There is plenty of planting space alongside the shed for screening, and a small space immediately behind it for the storage of things like garden canes, pots etc. All the timber used in the decking and the pergola should have been pressure treated and perhaps stained. The pergola should reach right across to the left-hand boun­dary and be stout enough to support two or three climbing plants, perhaps including a wisteria.

The island bed near the seat would be quite an important focal point with, if possible, an evergreen specimen plant in the centre — a yucca or a hardy palm. If more lawn space was needed, this bed could be left out. The most likely area for herbaceous flowers or roses is in the border to the left of the timber walkway. Elsewhere, shrubs and climbers could be used, making sure that there are some evergreens to maintain the structure of the layout during the winter.

If the windows in neighbouring houses at the end of the garden overlook in any way, the pergola at least would provide quite a good measure of privacy without casting too much shade. The garden seat would also be well screened from this direction and the trees which are dotted around the boundaries would provide further privacy without, hopefully, too much shade, although this would depend on the species chosen.

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About the Author: Greenery always attracts Arthur Kunkle. He has a big garden where he plants many fruits and vegetables. His passion for gardening motivates him to write and share different tips on gardening.

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