Having a small garden can make seeing its potential quite tricky. I always assumed that creating areas for each family member to enjoy would make it feel even smaller but since creating our pond and rockery, I realised that outdoor space had so much to give us and so I began planning a dedicated mud kitchen play area and this is how it turned out…
Choosing a Space
Choosing the right space in your garden is really important. As children will be the ones using it, you won’t want them to be in full sun all day. But, on the other hand, you don’t want the play area to take a prime spot and dominate your garden. Take some time to see how the sun moves around your outdoor space, how everybody uses the space right now, to see where you can safely watch them play and where it won’t impose.
After toying with 2 areas, I finally settled on a more shaded side of the garden as this would be perfect for the summer and it leaves the other side free for the football to be kicked around. The plot I chose was also really hard to keep looking nice as the almost year-round shade has left the grass looking a state and doesn’t allow for any other growth.
My first step was to find something suitable to cover the ground. We have a cat and a lot living around us so as simple as bark is, I didn’t want it to become one big litter tray! We had talked about the idea of decking, but with a lack of funds and time, it felt a bit too much of a project. Thankfully I stepped into Homebase and found the ideal middle ground solution… Square decked boards that just sit in place:
These are perfect for a quick job, for covering up the ground and can be moved if you ever need to. I tackled this area on my own with two children so we really appreciated the simplicity.
Side note – If I’d had more time, I would have levelled the ground a little better.
Now that our base was in place we could add stones to the edges for design and drainage purposes.
If you need to create a divide from one area of the garden to another there are lots of great ways in which to achieve this. Garden centres have a great range of screens, trees, trellises, planters and so on which would all do the job. I only needed to create a small divide to distract away from our compost bin so we chose these two green pots from Homebase and plants.
These should grow well to create a nice focal point and show the sectioning of this part of the garden.
The Freshening Up Stage
So, now I had the area created, their mud kitchen in place with their solar lights and bamboo water collectors on the fence I felt as though I was done… But then it all looked a bit drab. I went away and had another brainstorm and decided that the fence needed a face lift.
A few tester pots later and I settled on the shade Muted Clay by Cuprinol.
I was so surprised by how well this covered up the dark brown and it only took 2 coats to complete it. The colour is really interesting as it looks almost cream in bright sunlight but then looks a greyish/clay colour normally. I wasn’t expecting to like it as much as I do but it has really lightened the whole garden.
My next idea was to really make the mud kitchen play area stand out as a dedicated area and to achieve this I chose this lovely bamboo screening to have up in front of the fence where the sectioning is.
Finally it was all coming together and it really worked. We bought these bamboo water collectors from Homebase around 2 or 3 years ago but it doesn’t look as though they sell them anymore but I have seen lots of sets sold online.
I attached these to the fence using screw hooks and fixed them in place with brown string. And at last, the play area was then almost complete:
Etsy has a wonderful range of mud kitchens and accessories:
Our finishing touches included solar lights, the bamboo water collectors, our bughouse (you can make your own or purchase one) and a planter with flowers plus I freshened up the mud kitchen with some of the paint leftover from the fence. I am now thinking about turning the old sand and water table into a mini wildlife pond for the children to observe but that is a job for another day.
Now all that’s left to do is get playing! I have a blog on some fantastic mud kitchen play ideas here.
I am over the moon with how it all looks and ties together. It really fits in with our garden, the boys love it, the wildlife love it – can you believe we now have a frog living under the decking boards?! And it’s made the garden feel bigger rather than smaller as there is more going on now.
Sectioning the garden into areas that everyone can enjoy has been a really good step for our small outdoor space and it’s definitely given me a lot more to think about for future projects. Have you used this technique in your garden at all?
*This post contains affiliate links. For further information please refer to my disclosure page.
Pin for later:
If you enjoyed this post you can follow more of our life, opinions and antics over on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram. Plus feel free to come and join in with my parenting group ‘From One Parent to Another’ on Facebook.
If you’d like to contact me you can either leave me a comment or drop me a line via my contact me page.
For other topics similar to this one check out these suggestions below…