Forget trampolines and swimming pools – your yard is a magical realm which you can bring to life without spending a lot of money. Don’t underestimate your child’s imagination and create a magical garden with these easy and affordable ideas to open their eyes and minds.
Create a safe play-haven by removing nettles and prickly plants that can hurt little limbs and tear clothing. Check out gardening guides for suitable plants that require little maintenance and for tips on how to maximise the potential of what you’ve already got. Ensure fences and gates are in good repair. Kids love to climb so prevent potential accidents and escapes by checking these are secure.
Work within your resources
Budget and space will dictate what you can do, but you don’t need a lot of either to make a garden wonderland. Collect pebbles, leaves and flowers to make collages and pictures. Stones can be varnished to look like marbles; pine cones, acorns and woody stems can be sprayed to make attractive decorations. Always supervise your child to make sure they are not also decorating themselves at the same time.
Choose leafy foliage and evergreen shrubs to create gorgeous garlands in summer or winter to hang on your door or use as festive table decorations. Use florist foam or chicken wire for holding and shaping form, then jazz up with ribbons and beads.
Become an explorer! Buy a wildlife book or spotters guide on plants or bugs and get your kids exploring the garden. Maybe they can have a list of objects or creatures (within reason!) they can try to find, but just be mindful of them bringing the outdoors inside, as an infestation of creepy-crawlies is probably not ideal.
A bit of DIY goes a long way
Give that no longer used shed a spring-clean and lick of paint to transform it into a super-cool play-house – great for home picnics and parties!
If you fancy erecting play equipment in your garden, you don’t have to buy new. Check out notices in shop windows or schools for people selling on items that have become outgrown, or look on Ebay or in charity shops.
Measure your garden space first to ensure things like slides and climbing frames will fit and be sure they are the right size for your child, too! Don’t waste time and money on equipment that will be quickly outgrown or will be too big for your child to enjoy straight away and check that second-hand items are in good condition before buying.
Wooden playframes can often be adapted to your child’s size or ability with a few adjustments. You don’t need to be a great gardener or carpenter to build a basic, safe play area. Look online for a basic tool kit and construction advice. If all you ultimately manage is a wooden frame, simply throw a blanket over it to create an awesome den – they’ll love it!