Garden design for 'reclaiming' a family garden: tips to help your garden evolve as your needs change
A good garden will evolve and adapt to suit our needs. Things move on, tastes change, and our circumstances alter as time goes by. This is particularly the case for family gardens, as a garden for a family with young children is very different to one with teenagers in the house. And what about when those teenagers have flown the nest and are making their own way in life?
We are often asked to help redesign gardens for people whose children have left home and who now want to ‘reclaim’ the garden for themselves. The football goals, swings and sandpits are to be be replaced with a G&T terrace or a new vegetable garden. Here are our top three tips for reclaiming a family garden.
1. Start with a new wish list
Having a clear idea of what we now want the garden to be is a crucial first step. This is the time for us to prioritise our own tastes and desires. If we have always wanted a pond then maybe here is our chance. If we have often dreamt of a beautiful greenhouse then we should take this opportunity to fulfil that ambition. Dream big and make it personal.
2. Scale and proportion are key
Whilst we will hopefully be looking forward to welcoming our children back for summer barbecues and parties, we need to accept the garden is going to be enjoyed by fewer people than before. This is absolutely fine, but maybe we don’t need that extra large table and chairs now? Can we adapt our space so that we now have somewhere to eat outside and maybe a separate area for more relaxed garden furniture?
A lot will depend upon the size of the garden, but the trick here is to try to create spaces which don’t feel too large when they are being used by just one or two people, but can ‘flex up’ when we are enjoying the company of others.
3. Think about the future
Whilst it is great to focus on our current needs, it is always worth considering how our requirements may change over the coming years. Grandchildren may come along, and it will be lovely to be able to enjoy spending time outside with them. We should also consider how our personal circumstances may alter as we get older. We may be fit and active now, but how will we use the garden when we aren’t quite so mobile? Let’s think about the floor surfaces we use, how we handle changes of level, and whether raised planting beds might be a good idea.
Above all, let's not be frightened by change. Yes, we know if can be daunting, but if it is handled well change can be a very positive opportunity to create something better. It is more than possible to improve our gardens to make them more suited to our evolving needs, we just need a little thought and imagination.