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  • Introduction

    Sensory gardens are a delight for a garden designer. They allow your creativity to be set free. Excitement, wild colours, smells and textures are all begging to be incorporated. Sensory gardens become a refuge for garden owners, especially after a busy day at work. This client in Trafford, Manchester wanted to turn a long narrow commercial parking space into a sensory garden for their children. There were, however, a few tricky challenges for Garden Ninja to overcome!

    This client wanted to turn an unloved car park back garden into a rich sensory garden for their children to play safely in. They also wanted an adult zone to help them relax after a hard days work. They needed car parking space that was hidden, a quick access route to the house on wet days with bags of shopping. A Ninja warrior workout area, oh and a grow your own part of the garden. So they wanted a multifunctional garden with zones that feels cohesive and is filled with sensory elements.  Once my head stopped spinning I started to work on the concept design.

    A derelict back garden with play equipment

    Sensory Garden Solution

    When there are multiple garden areas that need specific purposes zoning is a technique I use. I zoned the back garden space into specific areas for the family. This provides a clear function for each area of the garden and allows the garden design to be cohesive. The zones I used where:

    Allotment / Grow Your Own Zone

    This area features raised timber beds which vegetables or fruit bushes can be grown. This was really important to the client who wanted to grow their own veg with their children. It’s also a great way to get children into horticulture and away from iPads and tablets!

    A perspective of a child friendly garden by Garden Ninja Award Winning Garden Designer

    Gin & Tonic Zone

    This adult space features two small circular adjoining lawns. Chairs or blankets can be used in this area for people to sit out, grab a Gin and tonic after a long day at work, or a relaxed afternoon brew. The planting here was all child-friendly but used height and textures to provide some privacy from neighbours.

    A hand sketch of a child friendly garden design by Garden Ninja

    Children’s Play Zone

    This space was designed to house the children’s existing climbing frame and swing set. By softening it with robust non-toxic plants it allows children to play safely in the garden without too much concern over footballs damaging precious specimens! It features log stepping stones that then repeated through the Adult Zone borders along with the lawn brick edging. Making a super fun network of child-friendly paths for the children to move around the garden via.

    A sketch of a play area for a child friendly garden design

    Garden Parking Zone

    The client needed parking and the obvious place was at the far end of the garden. However, rather than just looking at a car I suggested using pleached trees to help screen and separate the parking area from the garden. It also meant that any balls or games in the children zone wouldn’t easily damage the car!

    Hand drawn garden design by Garden Ninja

    Ninja Warrior Climbing Frame Zone

    This is the first of its kind for Garden Ninja but I was asked to incorporate an outside gym in the form of monkey bars. I suggested using scaffolding poles and fixtures to give an industrial and robust strength to the climbing frame for the clients, who could use it for outdoor cardio exercise. By allowing climbers to scramble up the sides it softened and helped incorporate the Ninja warrior pergola into the overall sensory garden design.

    A hand drawn garden design by Garden Ninja


    By carefully applying the needs to the garden owners I worked in a number of requirements to the garden design. By using non-toxic, child-friendly plants it means that children will be safe in the space. Careful choice of colours and planting specimens means it will also look very stylish and not look like a typical children’s playground. Adults can rest and relax in the garden as well as grow fruit or let children play in safety.

    Are you looking for a child-friendly garden design? Why not get in touch with Garden Ninja the North Wests garden design expert!

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