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Football madness

By garden designer Sarah Layton. For parents of sports-mad children the garden is a challenge.

We need a relaxing and attractive haven - they need a big rectangle of lawn. It can feel impossible to meet both needs and achieve a satisfying space for everyone.

As the garden designer mother of a boy who loves football I had a problem. My garden was football dominated and ugly. I was ashamed of it but struggled to invest money and creativity on a space that would regularly be beaten into submission.

Three years ago, however, I couldn't bear it any longer and, with family consultation, designed a new garden. My husband paced out the minimum space he and my son needed for a sports pitch and I incorporated it in the new scheme. By angling the lawn and pushing it to the rear I found space for a decked dining area with sunken pond and deep angled planting beds directly outside our large kitchen.

The new garden has changed my life. Yes, we have an enormous goal but this is painted to match the fences and I hardly notice it as the planting grows beautifully to give all season interest and the pond is full of frogs. Although a ball sometimes knocks the head off a prized Allium and I want to cry, the garden is a success overall and has proved to me that it is possible, given a suburban sized space, to design successful gardens for families that include footballers…. or cricketers…or both!

Sarah Layton has been designing gardens for nearly ten years in North West London. She has a football and cricket mad son, aged twelve and a husband who swears the goal is really not there for his benefit!!

By Sarah Layton