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Family-Friendly Landscaping That Both Kids and Adults Can Enjoy

The right mix of hardscapes, softscapes and playscapes make for a great family environment.

When you’re dreaming about creating an outdoor oasis in your backyard, you’re envisioning a romantic patio with colorful containers and the bubbling of a nearby water feature. You’re picturing sitting by a grand stone fireplace, basking in the warmth that keeps you enjoying the sounds and scents of spring into the later hours.

But when kids come along, your yard may change a bit from a relaxing haven to more of a play area for soccer practice, a fort-making corner, or a setup that involves a giant swing set with a climbing structure.

And you’re left wanting to have the best of both worlds.

Is it possible? It sure is. Here are some clever ideas to transform your landscape into a wonderland for your children and grandchildren, as well as a space grown-ups can enjoy, too.


Add playscapes so they blend into your space

Sure, you can buy a colorful playset and set it on a flat area in your yard. But what fun is that for you?

There are ways to create family-friendly gardens that please both you and your kids.

For instance, you could incorporate a gorgeous wooden swing seat or a hammock that blends into your natural area. Consider the landscaping that surrounds the play area — a talented landscape architect can provide plans that create a beautiful flow that combines playsets with an elegant garden. Play areas can also be placed near adult areas like patios to not only blend in, but also provide a kid-friendly element in the shared space.

When designing your hardscape areas, you can include multipurpose spaces in the construction plan. Maybe one area is a sandpit today, but in five years when your kids have outgrown it, it can be a storage area that blends into a stairway or step-down retaining wall.

Think about natural elements, too. For instance, stepping stones made of tree stumps in various sizes can be a great obstacle course for kids and a seating area for adults.

Don't forget to add some shade where adults and kids can retreat from the sun. Trees are great for creating shade, as are pergolas and pavilions.


Create a sensory garden

Stimulating your children’s senses can encourage them to play outside.

Sensory gardens stimulate all five senses, including sound, sight, smell, taste and touch.

For sight, you can plant flowers in many different colors. Think nasturtiums or sunflowers. Even ornamental kale with its rich, royal purple tones can be a fun addition. Use grasses that rustle in the wind or water features with moving water for sound. The sense of touch can be all around you from soft flower petals to various leaf textures and shapes. Scent and taste can come from herbs like mint or chives that you can grow and then clip to use in recipes you cook or bake together.


Start a vegetable garden

Planting a kitchen garden, herb garden, or even containers containing edible plants? What about a berry patch? Invite your children to join in the fun.

They will love playing in the dirt, starting plants from seeds and watching them grow. Let them help water, weed, and pick the fruits of their labor. They can even help craft the plant labels.

Then you can taste the food or cook the food together. A bonus: Kids are more likely to eat their veggies when they've helped grow them.


Fun for the whole family

What’s the best part about family-friendly gardens? The memories you make spending time together.

Whether you’re humming “Whistle While You Work” while pulling weeds from your vegetable garden, smelling the lavender in your sensory garden, swinging on your hammock or playing hide-and-seek in a custom treehouse or playhouse, these are times you’ll always remember because you spent them with each other.

Ready to make a space that’s elegant for you and engaging for your children or grandchildren in the Washington, D.C. area? We’d love to help you create a landscape that suits you now and into the future. Learn more about gardens we’ve designed here or contact us for a consultation about how we can craft a garden that brings everyone in your family joy.