Help-Designing a Children's Garden and need some enchanting ideas

bekahApril 23, 2010

I feel like I'm in our backyard all day with my 2 year old twins and right now it's got a couple of plants that they are helping me water but we could be doing so much more back there. DH and I are finally ready financially to transform our backyard. I would like to attract natural wildlife: butterfly's, hummingbirds, ladybugs and the like and was thinking of growing veggies and fruits (kitchen garden) with the kids and also old roses and cottage flowers. I'd like the design/layout focal points to be useful and geared towards children-so a children's garden. Something inspiring for the young mind. Somewhere they can really get their hands dirty and learn through play.

We are Zone 24 in Carlsbad, CA. The Front yard sees the morning sun. We are located at the bottom of a canyon and get consistent gentle to moderate breezes that flow from the front to the back of our house. Almost everyday I open the two front windows (10ft wide total) and directly across on the opposite end of the house is the 2 french doors (8ft wide) to the backyard. The cool fresh air is amazing!

The Backyard sees full afternoon sun and is the space between the house and garage. I'm wondering if I should connect the house and garage with a pergola (and have some climbing roses) for shade or to just shade the siting and dining areas only. It is enclosed by 2 lighter beige walls (house and garage) and 2 6' high white painted fences on the right and left. It needs color badly back there so that's what I'm hoping the hardscape (antique brick? flagstone?) will add. It also has that closed in feeling about it right now and so I'm looking to turn it into a lush/overgrown intimate space instead.

Front yard space in front of the 2 windows and front door area is about 20x8

Backyard space area about 18x22

Do you have some local gardens or children's places that you and the little ones enjoy spending time in? Strange water fountains or curious water flowing ponds-climbing trees or mazes-rainbow light displays, or natural musical sounds and soothing smells?

TIA

Rebekah

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fouquieria(10b)

Is the children's garden at Quail (San Diego Botanic Garden) in Encinitas finished? Last time I was there, they were working on it.

-Ron-

    Bookmark   April 27, 2010 at 2:54PM
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catkim(San Diego 10/24)

Begin by mapping on paper the usage of the back yard, including any natural pathways. Think carefully about sun exposure and how you can use it to your best advantage, and the areas where you need to control the exposure.

Hardscape should come first, with materials that mix well with your house materials, style, and colors. Budget and practicality are important.

Your two year old twins will go through many childhood phases rather quickly, and your garden is small, so it makes sense to use an adaptable scheme and limit the number of segregated areas. My own kids had a paved area, a grass area, a dirt area, and a non-traditional "playhouse/fort" area built under an existing patio cover. This allowed for a multitude of play activities only limited by their imaginations. We had a planting area in the sunniest spot where I grew giant sunflowers and tomatoes, nothing fancy. When they were little we were on the go all the time, and actual gardening was a fairly low priority.

To summarize: children are easy to please.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2010 at 5:59PM
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still_lynnski

Research on kids' play is quite clear that the best play is creative play. Play structures or toys with just one particular use are constraining to the youing ones.

Sticks and water and potential hidey holes lend themselves to endless imaginative games. Wherever they can, children gravitate to sticks and water and stones. If you provide sticks and water in your yard, rest assured that the little ones will take apart whatever charming enchantment you devise, and play endlessly with the basics.

That said, a circle of sunflowers with a circumference large enough for the children to hide inside is quite charming.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2010 at 8:17AM
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rhodium

Sandbox's were my favorite... the sand can be molded to what ever you want to make- castles -roads or to hide buried treasure.

Stick with the classics, sandbox, swing set and a place to run around. Some type of circular path is great for that.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2010 at 8:31AM
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summiebee(44601)

I'd plant a garden for them, have a sand area and a cutting garden for fresh flower they can cut for Mommy. :) I'd also do an herb garden. You can take them to a local paint your own pottery place to pait little ceramic tage that you put in the ground to label everything. We grow gardens in pots all over our deck because we live in the city and don't have enough room for much of a garden.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2010 at 11:32PM
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alabamanicole(7b)

Instead of an established "garden," I would consider incorporating edibles into your regular landscaping,. There's no need to set aside space specifically for edibles, especially if you have a small lot. It will be more adaptable as they get older, and it will be less maintenance for you now, especially if you add a drip irrigation system. I would set aside an area for each where they can grow plants of their choice.

I agree with everyone, though. A winding stone path, a sandbox (unless you have roaming cats!), a lawn area and a "fort" will go far.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2010 at 10:10PM
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