Dear gardener-parents. It’s time to unleash the big fun guns and get the kids away from those screens. We know it’s a challenging task BUT, Life is a Garden is here with some in-your-face, bold, bright ideas to create the ultimate kid-friendly, outdoor play place. Here’s your chance to create a garden that invites, inspires, and involves your kids.
Instead of a standard wooden jungle gym, get creative with something totally unique. There are several companies that can provide custom requests, so think about what your child would really enjoy. Perhaps they like to climb high, or swing on bars, maybe they like hiding spots, a cooking/experiment station, or perhaps they need a structure to just explore their gross-motor skills.
This idea is great for the bigger family and for when friends come over. It’s super easy to build a couple of tepees in the backyard from pole and plastic tarp/canvas. Grab ready-made tepees and supplies to build your own from one of our GCA Garden Centres. Kids can decorate their own special tee-pee and add fun accessories. This structure can be used as an outdoor reading nook too.
Engage fine-motor skills and imagination with a little fairy garden filled with lovely magical goodies. Take the kids on an outing to your GCA Garden Centre and let them choose a couple of fairy friends. Try use the fairy garden as more of an organic outdoor dollhouse that’s functional to play with/in, rather than purely ornamental. Secretly hide a few friends and let them hunt for the missing bounty!
Reinvent the standard sandpit! Get the kids excited about outside by introducing something like a pretend beach day for all the inland children. Dig a decent sized hole, layer with plastic sheeting, and then fill with soft beach sand. Throw in a couple of beach toys, an umbrella, an ice cream for bribery, and sunscreen to bring back holiday memories. Don’t forget a few buckets of “seawater”!
Here’s a cost-effective way to engage the music-loving child. Create a suspended pipe curtain set up using different sized PVC tubes. Include a mystery music box nearby with drum sticks, seedpods, and DIY stone shakers. Kids can start a band in the backyard and have fun developing their love of music and rhythm (or just have the freedom to make a noise for a while).
Harvesting food from a themed edible garden becomes an adventure and a sensory exploration. You can create a raised food garden inside a wooden structure that’s shaped and painted like a dragon, for example. Perhaps kids need to take a handful of compost as a peace offering to the dragon guardian as they enter his edible-castle. Include a basket for them to collect yummies and open up the space for any-time snacking, straight from the Earth.
Pop over to your GCA Garden Centre to which of these family faves are in season now. While you’re there, grab a bag of compost and organic fertiliser to help get you growing in no time.
Good luck and enjoy bringing out your big fun guns, gardener-parents. Try fewer restrictions and more invitations for real engagement from your kids. Knowing that the things you create are especially for them and they have permission to play will set your kids at ease. There is something so refreshing about a child’s modest curiosity and creativity, so let’s engage that and make the garden a place where they are supported to play the way they can in the digital world – involved and full of imagination.
Credit: Images and content inspired by Lifestyle Show Gardens – Lifestyle College Students.
Olá me amigos! This month, our inspiration stems from Mexico and their vibrant, easy-go-lucky flavour. Come salsa with us and spice up your garden by planting a colourful burst of summer fun. This water-wise garden is low maintenance and bold in its simplicity. Get your friends together for sundowners and welcome the sizzling summer vibes and braais to your backyard.
Weave a tapestry of delight with a vivid variety of plant combinations. It’s easy to highlight a medley of succulents accompanied by a diverse range of one-drop plants. These are low water requirement plants that will save your wallet and add rich textures to your space. We love the silvery shards of Blue Chalksticks (Senecio ficoides) - a spreading succulent shrub. It’s proudly South African and will thrive quickly in well-drained soil in a sunny area. Contrast these bluish grey-green patches with the robust burgundy of the Bushveld Kalanchoe (Kalanchoe sexangularis) and you have a striking mix of red and blue. These guys are not thirsty so let the soil dry completely before watering. They are hardy and will forgive even the most absent-minded gardener. Their name derives from the Chinese Kalan Chauhuy meaning ‘that which falls and grows’, so yes, they will survive! These water-wise companions take low maintenance to the next level.
The show-grabber is undoubtedly the Foxtail Agave (Agave attenuata) all the way from Mexico. Invite these amigos into your space to create spectacular visual focal points. They grow up to 1,2 m tall and will add height to the layout. Unlike other agaves, they won’t bite. With no thorns or spikes, they are referred to as unarmed. This makes them a friendly addition to any family. You can accentuate their sleek and stylish appearance even more by planting them in decorative pots. We recommend bright, bold red and blue mosaic pots that will tie in with the Mexican theme.
Throw in a dash of red here and there with the coral-like Fire Sticks (Euphorbia tirucalli 'Rosea') aka Red Pencil Trees. These striking succulent shrubs are hardy and their colour ranges from a faded yellow/orange in summer, to a deep red in winter. They love full sun areas but keep them away from pathways or where small fingers can play or break their delicate stems. Fire Sticks are very toxic so be very careful when handling them. Their milky sap can burn your skin or cause welts if one is sensitive to it. We recommend you wear protective gloves and goggles when working with them and avoid touching your face or eyes. If you feel a burning sensation on your skin or eyes, seek medical advice immediately. So, make sure you plant them safely out of the way where they can look pretty, but can’t be touched!
Compliment this succulent ensemble with bright scatter cushions or prints from the popular Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. Keep your space casual with nature-inspired floral prints and on-trend and with a few decorative pieces here and there. Now you have all the makings for a memorable outdoor fiesta. Tequila Sunrises and Taco’s, anyone?