Ideas to turn a new-build garden into an attractive family space

A new-build home offers many benefits for families, including modern, sociable living spaces and multiple bathrooms. So, they’re perfect for busy families and are walk-in ready, so there’s no disruptive renovation work to do. But the one space that isn’t always perfect is the garden.

Often a new-build home’s outdoor space is left for the new owners to put their stamp on and the most you can expect is a patio area and a patch of turf. It’s functional, but not exactly the dream garden.

However, having this blank canvas can be a good thing. It gives you the opportunity to create an attractive garden that works for all of your family. Here’s some ideas to get you started.

Make a flexible space for everyone

If your new garden is compact, there might not be room to create different areas for play, dining and relaxation. So, you might want to try making a flexible garden space.

Ideally, you want a hardwearing lawn to cope with children and pets playing on it. That way it won’t suffer from bare patches, so it can be used for sitting and relaxing on too. This type of garden turf costs between £2.40 and £3.50 per metre and usually consists of dwarf ryegrass and fescue to keep it tough yet low maintenance.

Adding a pergola with a retractable canopy gives you a space that can be used for seating and dining but can equally be used for children to play under during the hotter days. It’s best to choose lightweight and foldable garden furniture that can be easily moved around or put away in the shed to accommodate different activities. Wind some festoon lights around the pergola and it can become a cosy adult space in the evening.

Adding a hammock can be simple and a great way to create a hangout space, hammock stands can come in all shapes and sizes so you can get the perfect one for your garden.

However, if space does allow, you could zone your garden with a sociable seating area, a play area and a growing area, so it ticks all of the boxes. To subtly zone these areas, you could use planters or decorative panels to divide them or you could mark the zones with different surfaces. For instance stone pavers or decking for your seating area, lawn for the play area and gravel for a more formal growing area.

Create a secret garden

A single square patch of garden can feel a bit flat and uninspiring, so why not create a secret garden? Screening off a section or multiple sections of your garden has several advantages. It creates a more intimate or snug space for family get-togethers and it offers you a bit more privacy. Something that can be lacking in new-build developments.

To make a secret garden you could use woven willow hurdles, decorative metal panels or shrubs and hedging to enclose the area and hide it from sight. Install a little gate or install an arched entrance to give it a cute and slightly magical feel.

To make it feel truly secret, you might want to create a sneaky entrance. You could camouflage the entrance by covering the gate with foliage or use a bit of trickery with mirrors. Or, how about creating an access door through the back or side of your shed to give it Narnia-like appeal? If you don’t fancy adapting a shed, you can buy a shed with two openings for around £600 to £700.

A secret garden shouldn’t be an empty space. So, introduce lots of leafy plants to create hidden nooks to explore and put seating in and to give it a more secluded feel. You could go tropical with lots of palms and ferns and have a trickling water feature hidden between the plants. Or you could go for a more homespun feel with compact cherry trees, rambling roses and clematis covering the boundaries.

Go wild and make a nature filled space

Most kids love being outside and are fascinated by the natural world. So, you might like to encourage their curiosity with a wildlife-friendly garden.

You could plant tall wildflowers such as ragged robin, betony and cornflowers to edge the lawn and pop seasonal bulbs such as snowdrops, bluebells and crocuses into your turf, adding more colour to your garden and providing an extra resource for pollinators.

Adding a pond is another good idea and it doesn’t need to be big to attract wildlife. You can pick up a small pond liner for around £30 but a small container with no holes at the bottom will work just as well. Ideally, you want to position it where there’s some shelter from full sun and it’s best to add some stones to the bottom to create a more natural habitat. Pop in a few aquatic plants to naturalise it and fill it with rainwater to ensure it’s suitable for wildlife.

This type of garden creates an interesting garden that both the young and old can enjoy. Young kids will love building bug hotels, spotting butterflies and watching frogspawn hatch. Plus, it will provide youngsters with activities to do all year round. You might also fancy setting up a hedgehog or birdbox camera to get closer to the wildlife in your garden without disturbing it.