Play Areas


Paddling pools and sandpits are essential pieces of equipment for families with small children. Both can be bought as a free-standing feature and moved around the garden (or stored away) as necessary. They can also be built more permanently into the garden, then converted into raised or sunken beds or ponds when the children have grown out of them.

When building a sandpit, it is vital to ensure that you have adequate drainage: the base must be dug out to take 30 cm (12 in) of crushed stone or hardcore, topped with a layer of clean gravel, and finished with 30 cm (12 in) of silver sand. Never use builder's sand as it will badly stain clothing. You will also need to provide a cover to keep the sand as dry as possible.

If the children are a little older, then you might consider adding larger play structures such as climbing frames, slides, swings and see-saws. All of these may be built by any DIY enthusiast, and will tend to be sturdier than the tubular metal varieties. In this way, you can tailor the features to suit your needs. You may also think about using existing features; for example, a swing can be hung from a sturdy tree or a slide can be built into an existing bank.

Children love to escape the eye of adults; make a wooden Wendy house or give them a shed as a den. Even a sheet or blanket draped over a low branch or rotary clothes drier can make a good hiding place. However, best of all would be a soundly constructed tree house.