The Family Friendly Garden

Designer: Maeve O'Neill

House image
Watch Walkthrough Video

About the garden

"Family Friendly Garden"

Maeve’s design for this split-level garden features three distinct zones: a patio with a vibrant raised bed encased in Cor-ten steel; a lawn with a solid wall where the children can play ball; and a relaxed seating area at the back of the garden. There you’ll find a green-roofed* playhouse with a sandpit and a studio room which can be used for an office or storage, or converted into a den when the kids are older. A pergola adds privacy, creating an intimate space to enjoy the morning sun. 

The planting throughout this garden is designed to encourage pollinators and wildlife. Low maintenance and low toxicity, it suits a busy family with young children who have a keen sense of adventure. ‘The plants are robust and will stand up to exuberant play,’ says Maeve. ‘You don’t want to be the parent that’s always shouting “be careful off the plants!’  

The planting list for this garden has been carefully selected to ensure the colour palette, height and texture work together, explains Maeve. ‘For instance, the green and purple tones of the grasses and Alliums in the foreground work with the yellows and whites of the climbers around the pergola. Being selective like this helps to create a more cohesive design for your garden.’ 

Maeve O'Neill

Maeve O'Neill

Maeve O'Neill is a landscape architect, sculptor, former art teacher and design fellow in UCD and founder of Realise Landscape Architects. She has won a number of awards at Bord Bia Bloom including a Gold Medal in 2019.

Plan B

Family Friendly Garden

  • Back of the house is South facing
  • 15 x 9m plot
Download Garden Pack

Garden Designer Tips

Maeve’s advice for creating a family-friendly garden.

Click on hotspots to interact

Colour palette

Aim to work with the selected perennial plant list as any additional seeds and bulbs will be threaded through these plants. Don’t go too wild with the colours of the seeds and bulbs that you choose. Too many clashing colours can make a garden look disjointed. 



Planting plants close together minimises the amount of weeding you will need to do. 


Hero plant 1: Liquidambar styraciflua 'Slender Silhouette'

Prized for its autumn colour, Liquidamber 'Slender Silhouette' is a conical specimen tree, with dense, alternate, maple-like leaves colouring though orange to brilliant purplish red in autumn. Position: Full sun/Partial shade. Height: 12 metres Spread: 2.5-4 metres


Hero plant 2: Salvia nemorosa 'Caradonna'

This perennial Salvia with aromatic leaves narrow grey-green leaves, bears multiple upright spikes of intense violet- purple flowers throughout the summer. Position: Full sun or part shade. Height: 0.1-0.5 metres. Spread: 0.1-0.5 metres