Year Round Sensory Garden

Before we had children, we spent a fortune having the garden turned into a zero maintenance zone. It has very poor drainage, so grass never survived. We had decking put at either end, and gravel in the middle, to avoid the muddy mess we’d had previously. Now we have two toddlers, the gravel is a death trap. (It’s the really sharp kind). It’s so bad, we had to put a baby gate on the decking to keep the kids off the gravel!

The Activity Toys Direct / Tots 100 competition has given me the perfect excuse to get busy planning our dream garden. If I had £750 to spend on our dream garden, I would make a Year Round Sensory Garden.

Our son, Sam loves to be outside. He has Autism, so I would love to make a sensory garden to stimulate him, and allow him to play safely outside – whatever the weather.

This plan shows my ideas.

The first thing we’d do is dig a border down each side of the garden. I would use the gravel removed from this area to make a narrow path round the edge of the border. This would provide a narrow walkway from which we could safely enjoy the sensory borders, whatever the weather.

I’d need to buy compost and plants for the sensory borders. My aim would be to take Sam on a sensory journey through the seasons. I would include plants of varying colours, sizes, textures and fragrances, so that Sam could explore them, and watch them change through the year. I would also recycle our old, wooden fish pond and turn it into a grow to eat area within the sensory border. I’d plant a selection of herbs and strawberries in this.

I would make sure I planted things to take us through the seasons – lots of Snowdrops and Tulips for Spring, Sunflowers and Roses for Summer, Violas and Pansies for Autumn and Winter. I would also plant some evergreen climbers and different plants to give year round colour to the garden, and height, too. I would allow £275 for the plants, compost and soil for the borders.

We’d love to replace the gravel in the middle of our garden with grass. This area would cost approximately £200 to turf – including buying the soil, compost and turf. This seems like a lot of money, but it is definitely worth every penny as it will mean Sam can enjoy the outdoors all year round. I like to reuse things wherever I can, so I would use the gravel already
in the garden as drainage. I’d cover this with the soil and compost, before
laying the turf on top. Hopefully the extra drainage would enable the grass
to thrive. We already have stepping stones going over the gravel, so I’d reuse these to make an interesting path across the grass.

We wouldn’t need to turf underneath the inground trampoline, either. Sam (and his younger sister, Sydney) both adore playing on trampolines. I would love to get them an 8 foot inground trampoline to enjoy. The reasons I’d choose the in ground one over a freestanding one are: It’s less distance to fall! It doesn’t look as ugly as having a large safety enclosure blocking your view of your garden and they’d be able to climb on and off it themselves. I understand that once they are older and bouncing properly, we may need to replace it with an enclosed trampoline, but chances are we’d need something bigger than 8 feet then, too. This costs £275.Money well spent, for these two bouncy toddlers.

At the bottom of our garden, we have got a large Summer house (5.5mx2.5m). It currently has a lot of junk inside it. I’d love to clear it out, and turn it into a huge play house for the kids. I wouldn’t need any money for this task, just lots of grafters to help me do the multiple tip runs! The Summer house has 2 large doors, which open up to allow you to see the entire garden. I’d put our garden furniture in there, as well as the kids’ slide, water and sand table during the colder months. This would allow them to still enjoy their outdoor toys, and keep dry at the same time!

The decked area already has two benches on it, and we have a few planters, which i’d move to the front of the Summer House, to become window box style planters.

We’ve got a large tree at the bottom of the garden too – once Sam had access to the entire garden, I know he’d love spending time sitting under the tree, looking up at the leaves. This is one of his favourite things to do during the Summer.

Eventually, I’d like to add a small water feature within the sensory borders. A small, trickling waterfall one. I feel the sound of this, and the feel of the cool water would definitely make the sensory garden even more interesting. We already have quite a lot of subtle lights in the garden, so the kids will still be able to enjoy the space when it gets dark earlier during the colder months.

Phew! I think that’s enough to be going on with!

This blog post is an entry into the Tots100/Activity Toys Direct garden makeover competition

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