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Small back garden - needs plenty of fun kid-friendly things in a country cottage style

edited August 2021 in Garden design
I have a small south-facing back garden with side alley. 

I'm looking to create a really inviting, bursting country cottage style planting scheme.  Please ignore the clutter in the photos!  But also one where the kids can play. 

My problem is hubby, doesn't want to bring up all the patio slabs unless really necessary for a flowerbed (understandable) to go in. 
What can you recommend in terms of complementary planting and also artifical grass right upto the step edge?  How to embed the turf round the edges, so it's invisible to the eyes from



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  • BenCottoBenCotto Posts: 4,682
    This will help

    Rutland, England
  • debs64debs64 Posts: 5,124
    I wouldn’t get artificial grass, it’s very unsound environmentally and gets too hot to play on in warm weather. 
    It looks like a small space if you want to fit in washing line, flower beds etc. How old are the children? 
  • PosyPosy Posts: 3,601
    If your children are small, you will need softer surfaces for them to play on, but it's a big job. I would try to think a section at a time: give some thought to what sort of play you hope to provide, a swing and slide, a trampoline? Somewhere for toddler bikes?
     I love plants but in a small space, children come first and you may have to pause on these until they can join in with a little patch or at least respect your stuff while they play. Safety and convenience are the watchwords, you don't want to spend your life trying to protect the kids from the plants and the plants from the kids.
    That said, I would also avoid artificial grass, if possible. Any planting you do should be robust, not rare, delicate stems, it may have to contend with footballs and feet and needs to be as tough as possible.
  • Nanny BeachNanny Beach Posts: 8,717
    Exact measurements would help,is it NSEW facing?
  • Nanny BeachNanny Beach Posts: 8,717
    Ah,have just seen south facing, imagine you get shade from buildings. Think you will have to go vertical. Depends on the age of kids,small ones would be able to play there certainly,but you could hardly kick a ball around.
  • BenCottoBenCotto Posts: 4,682
    This is a real challenge.

    My thoughts, randomly arranged, are

    1. Paint all the fence panels and the white shed to bring unity. I would go with slate grey.
    2. In your circumstances and in this garden I think artificial turf is a good option. However it looks awful if not done properly so use an experienced contractor to do the work. I am not sure what you meant by “the step edge” but I assume it is the change of level. I would advise building a low brick wall. On no account use those rolls of timber edging sold in garden centres and big supermarkets because their life span is very limited.
    3. Build a customised wooden storage box, also painted slate grey, for the kids’ toys. Is the space near the hose reel big enough?
    4. Sorry, but I think the paving ought to go. The pink and grey chequerboard look is so dated so if your budget will not stretch to new slabs, recycle the grey paving slabs where the lawn will go and replace the pink ones so as to get uniformity. Jet washed, they will look much better.
    5. You have a lot of large pots which could be used to give a big impact. Unfortunately they are a random mix of colours and materials but if you cluster them and fill them with some exuberant planting that discordance will be lost. 
    6. A country cottage style of garden demands curves not straight edges so discuss the form of your lawn with the contractor. It was the need for fluidity that led me to suggest a curved brick wall rather than straight timber sleepers at the lawn’s edge.
    7. I don’t like the look of the concrete grey channel in the bottom two photos. Can that be dug out to give a bit more planting space?
    8. Finally, the best bit, the planting. To be honest I would get all the hard landscaping done and then return to the forum showing photos of your revamped garden with a lawn surrounded by three bare beds, newly dug over, enriched with manure or compost. Ask for suggestions for what to plant and people will be queuing to offer advice
    Rutland, England
  • Busy-LizzieBusy-Lizzie Posts: 23,817
    I think that @Ben Cotto has some good ideas. I would get rid of a lot of the paving too, keep enough of the matching pavers for a patio for a small table and chairs.

    A lot depends on your budget and how much work you want to do yourselves. Hubby will have to be persuaded about the pavers!

    There isn't really enough room for slides and trampolines and they would ruin the look anyway. Better have something like a children's teepee tent for imaginary games and a hiding place. A bit of lawn would serve for sitting on and somersaults.

    If you want grass it would have to be a very hard wearing variety to allow play on a small space. I wouldn't be against artificial grass in this case so long as it's good quality. I have it over the septic tank area where it was concreted and it doesn't get too hot, but my garden is fairly shaded.

    Clematis would be nice on the fence, group 3 is quite tough and is cut down to a foot each early spring so easy to care for. No thorns either.
    Dordogne and Norfolk. Clay in Dordogne, sandy in Norfolk.
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