21 Aug 2013
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The garden was probably a big deciding factor when you bought your family home, but it can often be difficult to tear kids, literally, away from their various screens. Worried that your children are about to develop scurvy, it’s important to get them outside when the weather is good.
Brighten up your family’s sallow skin and get the best use out of your garden this summer with these makeover ideas.

1. Make Some Space

Kids want to play outside, they just need some space. Your garden may be a thing of beauty but children aren’t drawn to gravel paths and water features. Although a lawn can be a little bit of effort, nothing beats its springy surface for handstands, cartwheels and races with Dad. The weekly mow is also great for perfecting the t-shirt tan.

If you can’t afford a full-sized Olympic swimming pool, that doesn’t mean you can’t get your family splashing happily about in the garden. A clear space will take a paddling pool, which might even attract a surly teenager or two on hot days. A homemade waterslide is great fun if your garden is on a slight slope. Just make sure you don’t point the end at the patio doors, or you’re asking for a disaster.

2. Food Glorious Food

Often meal times are the best way to spend quality time as a family, food is great motivation. Spending as many as you can outside will be a great use of your garden. Get a decent garden dining set, with comfortable chairs. That old ratty one that’s been in the shed for three years, covered in spiders and smelling of tarps, is not going to do.

A patio or decking area that leads out from the kitchen will make it feel like an extension of the house and is easier to nip back in for that forgotten knife. Investing in some awning or a large garden umbrella is worthwhile, to protect delicate skin from the sun or a few specks of rain.

However, don’t be militant about your al fresco dining. Don’t force them to eat soggy fish fingers in a thunder storm; you might put them off for life.

3. Getting Their Hands Dirty

A long-term project is a good way to get everyone involved, and a vegetable patch is ideal. If you sell it right they’ll be enthusiastic, engaged and OUTSIDE. What more could you want?

Allocate enough space for a variety of different fruit and vegetables; ones that they’ll eat.  Give them their own little space to muck about in, literally, and with a little help from you they’ll be delighted that they’ve actually grown something themselves. Of course, at the end, you get to eat it as well.

Don’t force the issue. It’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea but if the rest of the family is outside, it might just encourage any stragglers to get a breath of fresh air.

4. Bring the Outside In

The outside space is room that can be used and appreciated whatever the season. Open up your whole house so it flows straight outside and your garden will become part of the house.

If you’re dedicated to really using all that outdoor space then investing in a contemporary conservatory, complete with doors that slide or fold completely back, is a great idea. Rooms will feel like they just spill outside, extending the space so that you can eat, read or just lounge about and look at the garden.

5. Swinging About

Adding a swing is such a simple thing to do and doesn’t need any supervision. The end of the garden is the best place, protecting the windows against feet. It could be a simple rope swing that they can get their foot in, or a tyre, secured to a sturdy branch.

For lounging consider a hammock or, with a bit more luxury, a garden swing. Perfect for reading or pretending to read and snoozing, you’ll probably find a little one comes crawling into your lap for some respite from the sun.

Whatever type of outside space you’ve got, big or small, it could be used better to really get the best out of it for the whole family.

Have you recently finished a garden makeover? Share your ideas and advice here.

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