From secret dens to sandpits, we think it’s important to make sure your garden is a fun place for your children, to encourage them to enjoy lots of fresh air.
A den is a great enticement to enjoy some time away from the video games, preferably in a shady part of the garden that will not suffer from high use with little ones coming in and out all the time. To do it quickly, establish some shelter and fast-growing cover using plants such as willows. For an improvised hideaway, create a simple teepee from willow canes pushed in the ground in a circle and tied together at the top. If you want something prettier for next year, plant climbers such as clematis to climb up the canes in spring to provide flower cover.
A treehouse may be the ultimate den, but it can be costly and complicated to erect if you’re not a natural DIY-er, so you may be better off letting kids make their own den. Leave a wild area for them to roam around in, preferably towards the back of the garden, but where you can keep an eye on them, providing a variety of twiggy sticks, plants and wood and let their imagination run wild. They can make their own camps using old curtains, old sheets, blankets and pegs.
Sandpits provide young children with hours of fun, whether a plastic one with a lid on it or a more permanent fixture made from a circle of logs set vertically into the ground. Use sand that is sold specifically for playpits, as it is non-toxic and won’t harm children.
Another favourite is creating a wildlife garden for your kids, featuring a good variety of plants, or helping them make an insect house.
Rope swings from trees and zip wires (kits are widely available) gently running downwards from one tree to another can be a lot of fun and are soon dismantled once they lose interest.