Q – I am proud of my beautiful garden and don’t want to spoil the look of it but I need to create a play area for my grandchildren where they are safe and happy. The garden is large enough to give an area over for the children but I don’t really want large toys and swings etc. where they will spoil the ethos of the garden which is almost a cottage style with wild flower areas. What is the best way to design a play area?

A – The best way to create an area for children to play in is to allocate a small area of your garden and hide it well with dense shrubs or a screen covered in fast growing climbers. Put down a lawn area that is made from hardwearing type turf and avoid any hard paths or paved areas where young children could fall and hurt themselves. Instead use bark, especially where you have a swing or a climbing frame and make sure the area is well drained so that it doesn’t become slippery or boggy after heavy rain.

A child’s area should be a secret world for imaginative play and for very young children it is often a good idea to put up some type of fencing and a gate for security. One final thought – if you are going to put in a sandpit it may be an idea to cover it over when not in use to stop the local cats using it as a toilet!