Designing a Toddler-Friendly Garden

This is a collaborative post.

With our upcoming house move on the horizon, house renovations and decorating are very much on my mind at the moment. We’re moving into a relative’s house for about a year, so whilst the house isn’t ours, it’s the first time we’ve lived somewhere that we can make our own. Our main reason for relocating is to save money, so we don’t want to go mad, but I’m thinking it’s all good practice for when we hopefully buy our own home in the not too distant future.

The perfect pretty garden lined with lovely flowers

My main priority is the lounge, and I’ve spent all week scrubbing the walls and plastering them with emulsion but next on my list is the garden. Second to the lounge, it’s probably the area of the house that we spend the most time in with Pickle: come rain or shine, he just loves being outside. It’s got me thinking about what makes a good garden for a toddler, and although not all of these ideas are feasible for us right now, they’re good food for thought as we start thinking about searching for a house to buy.

Pickle looking up in the garden

Flat and Spacious

The main requirement any toddler has for outdoor space is… plenty of it! If you’ve got an energetic toddler like mine, they’ll love nothing more than running up and down, and round and round any garden space. Although Pickle really enjoys climbing up hills and racing back down them, or jumping off steps, a nice big flat area has bigger potential for stress-free play.

Sloped garden at Nanny Pol's house

That doesn’t mean sloped gardens can’t be fun… Some of my favourite memories from my childhood involve putting the tent groundsheet in the garden and using the slide to make a watery slide. Literally hours of fun! But in an ideal world, I think flat is best.

Artificial Grass

I wish we were the kind of family that drink coffee, read the newspapers and mow the lawns on Sundays – but we’re just not. Mowing the lawn is something that only gets done when it really needs it. With the grass so high and the weeds so numerous that it’s passable for a jungle, its not the most conducive environment to a football game or a quick play outside.

Lawnmower in the garden cutting grass

If there’s one lesson I’ve learned through my life so far with a toddler, it’s that your garden needs to be playable in at a moment’s notice. Being ready for action at the drop of a hat means you have so much more flexibility, and helps avoid those horrible days cooped up indoors. So if, like us, you’re not best friends with your lawn mower, it’s definitely worth considering artificial grass.

No need for a lawnmower with artificial grass

There is still an element of maintenance needed for artificial grass, but arguably it’s much less than a normal lawn, and will always look nice and fresh, and neat.

Lots to Play With

Providing Pickle with lots to play with in the garden hasn’t been much of a priority until now, as our old home was so close to the park that it was easier to wander down there than mow the aforementioned jungle lawn. But when I see how excited he gets when we visit our friends who have swings, slides, climbing frames and playhouses, it makes me realise how lovely those things would be to have at home.

At the top of the spiral slide at Drayton Manor

That said, if space and finances are limited, there are some small, cheap basics that should be in any toddler’s garden: something to throw, something to kick, something to push and something to climb. And anything that involves water play is always going to be a hit – Pickle’s face the first time he played with a water pistol is just a picture!

Pickle playing with a water pistol

For some great toy ideas, I’ve created a little shopping list of items I can personally recommend:

Chad Valley Sand and Water Table
Dolls World Stroller (Blue)
Foam Football
OleOletOy Sensory Balls
Utex 3 in 1 Pop Up Play Tent
Little Tikes Cape Cottage
Little Tikes Classic Cozy Coupe
TP Toys Wooden Swing Frame
Chad Valley Sand and Water Table
Dolls World Stroller (Blue)
Foam Football
OleOletOy Sensory Balls
Utex 3 in 1 Pop Up Play Tent
Little Tikes Cape Cottage
Little Tikes Classic Cozy Coupe
TP Toys Wooden Swing Frame

Things to Grow

For Father’s Day this year, we were sent some little pots and some seeds from Johnson’s Baby and it was just the push I needed to get over my fear of gardening and learn from scratch. Pickle and I figured it out together, using a small trowel to move compost, poking holes in the soil and sprinkling the seeds.

Learning how to garden with Pickle thanks to Johnson's Baby

Not only did he enjoy planting the seeds to begin with, but it was really sweet to see how excited he was to water our flowers each morning. Granted, he did over-water the little pots right from the off and they never actually grew… but the larger planters have done really well and I’m so proud of us both that we’ve successfully grown something from seed!

Little pots planted thanks to Johnson's Baby

As Pickle gets older, I’d love to widen our growing horizons and start growing our own fruit, vegetables and herbs. I think it’s so important for children to understand where their food comes from, and what better way than to see it from seed to plate?

A Washing Line!

This last item isn’t so much for the toddler’s playing benefit, but for their welfare. I’m not sure I need to convince anyone how essential a washing line is for any household with children.

Pegs on a washing line

When the weather is dry, there is nothing I love more than the feeling of accomplishment when I peg a load of washing out to dry. We don’t have a tumble-dryer so it’s the quickest way I have of getting through the never-ending laundry pile and seeing the line full of Pickle’s cute little clothes makes me feel very adult for some reason.

What’s in your Garden?

So, what do you think? Have I covered all the essentials for putting together the perfect garden for a toddler? Am I missing anything? I’d love to hear what you have in your garden so I start to think about buying our first family home and knowing what I need to be looking for in the outdoor space available.

Disclaimer: this is a sponsored post in collaboration with Grass Direct. All content, views and opinions remain my own, as as always, is 100% honest.

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