Saturday, 21 July 2012

Small gardens for little people

One of Mark's (not mine) concerns about our property is the size of the block of land and how it will happily accommodate four very lively little boys. It's only 405 square metres, or 16 perches as it used to be referred to. The addition will take up a considerable chunk of available outdoor space, but in saying that, I still feel there will be ample room for the kids to play, providing a bit of thought goes into the design.

Due to the planning requirements, our addition will be built approximately 1.3m off the ground. Rather than having a set of stairs from the house down to the backyard, the architects have designed an outdoor terrace. This will act as a transition area - a space that sits somewhere between the house and the garden. And as it will be constructed of masonry, there will be no maintenance issues either. I see this area having a number of different functions:

*  a place to eat breakfast
*  a place to dine under the stars
*  a nice spot for a couple of comfy chairs
*  a stage for the kids to perform

Many parents believe that a flat yard is the ideal outdoor space for children. But apparently this is not necessarily so.

One of my favourite landscape designers, Matt Cantwell, has a different perspective on this. He believes that having a multi-level terrain is important for a child's development - it helps them to negotiate changes in environment and creates a playful layout.

Layered decking doubles as extra seating

He actually faced the same predicament himself a number of years ago. His own house, which is in Sydney's inner eastern suburbs, sits on a block of only 267 square metres. He has successfully managed to design a child-friendly garden to cater for his three children. Everything about his garden, including plant selection and water features, is completely child-friendly.

Child-safe water feature

All images are from

I think this is a fantastic idea! A one-metre setback, what would normally be considered "dead space" along the side boundary, has become a fun place for the kids to ride their push cars.

We won't have a football field, but I'm certain we'll come up with some great ideas to make the garden an enjoyable place to play in - for both kids and adults.


  1. We have a big yard and the kids mainly make full use of it when their friends are it's kind of wasted really... If Jason and I are outside, they tend to be outside too, but usually they're inside. Once we finish tidying up under our house it will hopefully be another kid zone. Love the landscaping ideas you have in mind for your home. xx

  2. What a fantastic design, I love the use of the side boundary space as a concrete path for ride ons.Brilliant! We have a massive driveway and I have to say while my kids love the tyre swing, climbing trees and the trampoline, that long stretch of concrete is a favourite. melx

    1. My thought precisely - when I first saw this image a few years ago I knew it would be a perfect solution for our house. We will have an area like this roughly 25m in length so it will work really well. I don't know what else I would do with this space.