Planning for Play

Beauty for little beasts.

Your kids and dogs are great. You can have a delightful, even sophisticated garden that can survive them and that you’ll love. All it takes is thoughtful planning and a few tricks-of-the-trade for kid and pet-friendly plantings.

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I’m passionate about creating opportunities for play throughout the garden, for all ages. I wrote an article about Planning for Play with little kids back in 2005. But planning for play isn’t just about children, it’s about the whole family. In fact, it can be about your extended family and your neighbors, too. It’s about understanding how you like to play, and who you like to play with, and creating spaces that support the activities you enjoy.

Small gardens can be transformed by seating, but in this small garden the seating had to perform even more functions. It had to provide shade from the sweltering western sun, as well as screening of the view behind. The homeowners had a large extended family that loved to barbecue, and a tiny usable yard area. This was created for an HGTV show designed for limited budgets.

If your neighborhood is full of children who like playing together, and parents who enjoy socializing while they do, then focusing on entertaining spaces in your front yard is a sensible investment in both your property value and your social life. If you have a large extended family with many small children, having a central entertaining space with good visibility, attractive play features, and secure fencing is key to being able to relax and enjoy your time while the kids play. If you have a small space that must serve many functions, every carefully selected element of that space should support and enhance play along with the other demands of the design, including comfort and aesthetics.

What do you think? Let me know!

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