10 family garden ideas - transform your space into a multi-functional outdoor living area

Our family garden ideas will keep everyone happy – from toddler to teen and for entertaining family and friends

paved garden area with kids teepee and small table in background
(Image credit: Future PLC)

There are several factors to consider when putting together family garden ideas – how big your garden is, how old your children are and what kind of outdoor living you want to embrace are just a few. 

How to plan a garden that successfully ticks these boxes is down to creating a space that has areas for everyone – muddy play for toddlers, a quiet space for the teens and a multifunctional entertaining zone that allows everyone to come together. 

'Keep spacing in mind, a family garden should have areas for a variety of activities. Have a space with grass for little ones to run around in as well as an area for the BBQ and chairs, this means each member is happy and you have definitive spaces for everyone in the home,' say Sarah and Sally Wilkie, founders, Home Barn.

This is where zoning your garden comes into play, if you have a sun trap then keep that for the main seating area, more naturally tree-covered areas are ideal for the kids so they're out of direct sunlight but make sure they're in your line of sight. 

Other areas to consider are where to grow veggies (if you want to) and garden storage ideas – something that's often overlooked but a place where the bikes and toys can be hidden away.

Family garden ideas 

Transform your space with our family garden ideas and flip it from a run-of-the-mill garden into a multi-functional area that has something for everyone – even the teen that likes to spend all day indoors will be tempted to hang out!

1. Create a cinema in your garden

garden with white sheet for projector/cinema, cushions, rugs, blankets and sign saying 'movie', rattan side table and footstools

(Image credit: Future PLC/Carolyn Barber)

Watching a film is always a family favourite and with a bit of clever planning you can create your own outdoor cinema. All you need is a projector and a white wall or white sheet to hang up.

Choose a couple of movies whilst waiting for dusk to fall and cosy up with plenty of blankets and cushions – and not forgetting the key ingredient – all the snacks! 

2. Invest in an outdoor oven

outdoor dining area with table and chairs, painted wall, outdoor oven, outdoor sink, patterned tiles, pots, plants

(Image credit: Little Greene)

Nothing beats eating out under the stairs and you can go the whole hog if you have the best pizza oven installed. Yes, we do have to be aware of the UK climate, but even eating a homemade pizza in the slight drizzle is a win right? And think of the cinnamon buns for breakfast with freshly squeezed juice...

Having a sink as part of your outdoor kitchen ideas will also be a bonus – the kids can watch their muddy hands in it and can fill up water bottles too on those heady summer days. 

3. Give the kids a dedicated space

paved garden area with kids teepee and small table in background

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Keep the little ones close to you but with a space of their own to play in. Teepees are a great idea for gardens, they're a cosy play area and also protect them from the sun, you can pick a kid's teepee up for as little as £18 on Amazon

Tempt them away from the TV with a picnic in their teepee – pop favourite books in it and a cushion or two. Bunting adds a splash of colour and a sense of occasion, match the colours to your teepee design. 

4. Invest a small artificial lawn

small garden with artificial lawn, bright chairs and accessories, table made around tree, yellow back door

(Image credit: Carpetright)

If you lawn is being put through its paces by football-obsessed kids who love scoring goals whatever the weather – consider artificial grass. 

'It's fast becoming one of the biggest trends in landscaping,' says Sarah Hooper, grass buyer, Carpetright. 'Whilst it gives a similar underfoot sensation to real grass, artificial grass is safe, hygienic and easy to clean, making it very child and pet friendly. It’s hard-wearing, long-lasting and designed to drain easily, so busy parents won’t have to worry about mud and mess after it rains.' 

5. Pick flexible seating

garden with pink and green colour scheme, pallet furniture, lounger, shed in background, dog, planters, lawn

(Image credit: Future PLC)

The best garden furniture for a family is multifunctional pieces, because you need to cater for the whole family and potentially across quite a few ages. It needs to be cosy for cuddles, a cool hang-out for older kids and stylish enough for entertaining your friends. 

So it needs to work hard and be hard-wearing. Choose at least one sofa and a couple of armchair styles. A lounger is ideal for sunbathing and if you can fit one in have a coffee table – even better if it comes on wheels so it can be moved about as and when. Add plenty of cushions and throws so it becomes an extension of your interior style, a colour scheme is a good idea, choose easy-on-the-eye colours that can be mixed together. 

6. Grow a family allotment

allotment with blue shed, paved path, bunting, veg & flowers

(Image credit: Alitex)

There's a definite move towards growing fruit and veg so we become a little less dependant on supermarkets. If you have the space consider creating an allotment in your garden. It could be at the bottom, or along a hedge on the side, and can be a little rough around the edges. You don't even need a proper path, you can use wood chip down the middle instead. 

And the best thing is that it's fun for all ages, you can grow flowers, fruit and veg and it will encourage the most wonderful wildlife to visit your garden too. If you don't have space consider learning how to grow tomatoes in pots or how to grow potatoes in bags to get the same experience in a small space.

7. Be bold and practical

black rattan seating with bright coloured cushions and rug, on decking

(Image credit: Amara)

Bright colours work really well in gardens due to the intensity of the summer light so you can go bold with your accessories. 

'The first step to creating a family-friendly garden is to have a mix of both green space for playing and a dedicated area to sit and relax. Create a fun space with bold-coloured furniture, a large outdoor rug (ideally washable), and some garden games for the warmer days ahead,' says Sam Hood, co-founder, Amara.

8. Invest in a hammock

garden with hammock hung between two trees, patterned cushions in hammock, side table with bowl full of fruit and stripe napkin

(Image credit: MindtheGap)

We all need our quiet time and in the summer months a hammock will most certainly do the trick. 

'With the new ways of hybrid working we are never far away from a screen or phone, so it’s become even more important to create moments of calm, places in which we can really unwind and relax,' says Stefan Ormenisan, founder and creative director, MindtheGap.

'Creating an outdoor haven, be it a hammock filled with colourful textured cushions, or a rug placed under a tree adorned with throws and cushions is a wonderful way to escape and take a moment to pause and daydream. 

'I Love to surround myself with colour, pattern and texture, combining florals, stripes botanical motifs, for me the joy in maximalist interiors works wonderfully outside too, reminding me of far-flung travels and capturing the spirit of a holiday feeling, even if I’m only in my garden.'

9. Gather around a fire pit

seating around a fire pit in garden, festoon lights, cushions and throws

(Image credit: Garden Trading )

There's something rather wonderful about gathering around the best fire pits, with their mesmerising flickers and warmth, it will be a favourite place for all members of the family. 

The best fire pit ideas for a family includes space to toast marshmallows in the evenings and it will keep you all cosy in the late evening. Pop up some festoon lights on hooks to light your way back into the house. 

10. Protect with a large shade

Wooden pergola with table with linen cloth

(Image credit: Future PLC / Carolyn Barber)

Although we're a nation of sun worshippers and therefore acquire sunburn at the drop of the hat, protection from the strong summer rays is vital, especially for the kids. 

Consider adding in some pergola ideas for a pretty shade structure. Alternatively, for something less permanent consider opting for the biggest parasol you can so there's an option to still be in the fresh air but out of the strong midday rays. 

Some parasols now come with an adjustable arm so do consider a design that does as it means you can move it as the sun goes on its journey around your garden.

How do you build a family garden?

Great family garden ideas are those that are meet the needs of your individual family. They will vary depending on the ages of your children and how much you love to entertain or spend time gardening – or both. 

'Accept that you need to build for the phase of life you’re in…that means you won’t always have a goalpost or a basketball hoop or a trampoline, but that you may have to embrace those things (including the clutter that goes with them) for a few years,' says Laetitia Maklouf, author of The Five Minute Garden. 

'Yes you can of course hide the kiddy stuff, but imho the FAR more important thing is to prioritise sundowner seating so you can relax in an apricot glow in the summer months, and good storage for cushions, so you can easily access comfort and prettiness when the weather is favourable.'

'If your child/children are at the age where they like to help, get yourself some garden pots so they can help with potting a few plants or growing vegetables and fruit. Not only is this a fun activity to do together, but they’ll also love waking up every morning to see the progress and then finally being able to eat what they have helped produce,' says Sam Hood, co-founder, Amara.

How do I childproof my garden? 

As with any outdoor space there are elements you can and can't control, so awareness is key. A designated play area near to the house will allow your children to play outside while you can watch them. 

Do give a chat on fire and water safety if you have either in your garden and never let little ones out on their own if the fire is lit or you have a pond. When it comes to plants, some are poisonous to both humans and pets, look out for foxgloves, daffodils and rhododendron particularly. Keep any garden chemicals locked up safely in a shed and ensure there aren't any tools left lying on the ground. 

Sophie Warren-Smith
Contributor

Sophie has been an interior stylist and journalist for over 22 years and has worked for many of the main interior magazines during that time, both in-house and as a freelancer. On the side, as well as being the News Editor for indie magazine, 91, she trained to be a florist in 2019 and launched The Prettiest Posy where she curates beautiful flowers for modern weddings and events.