...the two are not mutually exclusive!
Children naturally like to touch, jump, climb, dig, splash, hide and “help”. A few small changes can make a yard much more kid-friendly and still pleasing to the adults' eye. Instead of the standard yard formula (lawn speckled with a tree or two, shrubs and a few flowers for foundation plantings, a deck or patio in the back for outdoor “entertaining”, and some plastic structure for the kids to play on), use a little creativity:
- set aside a safe space for digging
- plant easy and delicious edibles such as strawberries within reach
- plant flowers to attract hummingbirds and butterflies
- plant plants that are interesting to touch, smell or taste
- give kids their own plot or a few pots to plant their own seeds
- include water, can be as small as a “pond” in a half-barrel
- provide hiding spots or private spaces - as simple as a bean-teepee or as complicated and as a custom-built treehouse
I have many ideas of how to plan for the long-term so that you don't have to undo everything you have once your kids are older. For example, a wooden play structure could eventually be converted into a pergola, or a path through a raised bed can ultimately become a waterfall for a pond. See my posts under the category "Gardens for kids" for more ideas.