Water Play Rill

I’ve attached a few photos of different styles of stone rill we have made for water play spaces. One rill, at home, was simply ground out of the stone to create a smooth, shallow depression across the patio (much to Helen’s delight!) and several others involving either staggering the paving, laying sets to create a channel or deeper carving of the stone.

I am often asked if the stone becomes slippery after time, surprisingly its never been an issue, however if the water play rill was uses an lot it may be necessary to give it a blast with a jet wash now and then. I really enjoy installing these water play features in private gardens and school playgrounds, I was lucky enough to have parents that would allow me to run the hose pipe for hours while making rivers and dams through the neighbouring woodland so know just how much fun playing with water can be. These days I encourage people to use rain water or recycle the water with either a hand pump or electric pump.

Stone water play channel, natural play, water play rill

The smooth channel running across our patio at Copper Beech central. The water is fed from a large rain water storage tank at the back of the house. Our boys 9 and 11yrs still love to play in this on sunny days and little Anna 1.5yrs finds sitting in it to be delightful, especially just as we are about to go out!

Water play, natural play

With the slate paving set slightly apart we were able to make this small water play rill that again runs from a rain water tank and ends up running into a large sandpit.

Water Play, natural play, playground

As part of a water play space installed at a school in Nuneaton this stone set on edge created a very textured surface, we were able to create a channel that ran around the edge of the circular play area.

natural play products, water play rill

Cut into flagstones this rill could be made any length, the channel is about 10mm deep and the surface is quite textured making lovely ripples and an extra non-slip surface.

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Den Building Kit

I took this photo at the weekend, a den building kit nearly ready for dispatch.

The main frame is pealed and sanded and ready for oiling, all the stainless steel bolts have been cut and labelled. These frames are very easy to assemble, requiring just three holes to be dug and four bolts to fasten the frame together. We are happy to install these frames or sell them with detailed installation instructions and plans.

Each kit comes with rustic poles and planks for endless den building adventures and with a natural canvas cover children will be able to enjoy their constructions in all weathers.

Den Building Kit, natural play, forest school

Hard day in the office!

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Pub Garden Play Frame

This pub garden climbing frame needed to be suitable for a wide range of ages and abilities while fitting into a fairly small area. We incorporated a large sandpit along one side of the area for the smaller children.

The owner of the pub gave us some great feedback with customers really appreciating the addition of this natural play area.

All of our play frames are made form locally sourced hard woods, they are sanded and oiled to give a smooth tactile surface that is durable and hard wearing. With minimal maintenance these frames will last for many years and provide a great play environment for your children.


Pub garden, play frame, climbing frame

pub garden, climbing frame

pub garden, climbing frame

pub garden, climbing frame


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Small world play

Further to the previous blog, Anna Olive finding the fairy house and checking out if any one is home! these mini houses are idea for early years small world play and natural play areas.

Small world play

Anna discovering the fairy house

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Fairy House

I’ve just been making this little fairy house for my daughter, a great place to hide her Easter eggs!

Made from Oak logs and little oak doors and windows these are great for outdoor natural play areas.

We have a few of these items in our online shop, or contact us to discuss any specific requirements.

Fairy House, natural play

Fairy house, natural play

Hazels found the eggs first!

Fairy house, natural play

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A Reasonable Risk

A reasonable risk in a play area should be encouraged to help children become aware of their surroundings and actions within those surroundings.

A natural play space will often have more risk, when designed properly a child will be able to see this for themselves and size up the challenges before getting stuck in.

I’ve just come across this great article which sums it up nicely.

Children are suffering under an “excessive risk-averse” culture in schools that is damaging their ability to cope in the real world, the head of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has warned.

Natural Play, school grounds, playgrounds, a reasonable risk

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Natural stone paving

We have been asked to lay natural stone paving in several early years gardens, the main aim is to create a paved area that has some interest and texture for the children to play on. A paved area can be very useful within a play area and doesn’t need to be a plain uninteresting area.

We have used several different materials for such spaces from logs set vertically and cut level, reclaimed brick and natural stone in various forms.

Below are a few photos of natural Herefordshire stone used firstly in random shapes, as it comes out of the quarry and secondly as ‘pitching’. Both uses create a level but textured surface with colour and interest.

Natural Stone Paving, Play, playgrounds

Natural stone paving, play, water play, playground

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Forest School Shelter

We built this open sided shelter this time last year using chestnut poles and cedar shingles for the roof covering, ideal for a forest school shelter and/ or outdoor teaching the shelter is quick to build and sits nicely in the landscape.

We have made similar buildings and used hazel hurdles for move able walls, this gives a good amount of flexibility of uses depending which activities are happening in the building.

If you have a project in mind we will be happy to talk through your ideas, click here to see more of our outdoor teaching spaces

Forest school Shelter, natural play

Forest school shelter, natural play, outdoor classroom

Forest school shelter, outdoor classroom, natural play

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Play logs

Simple but effective, large natural play logs in a playground will provide endless play opportunities for relatively little cost.

In fact if you contact your local tree surgeon, who may have suitable tree trunks that they will donate for free, the most expense will probably be spent on transport.

If you do get some freebies just make sure there are no sharp edges or branches poking out, if so get your keen volunteers to saw them of and sand them down as much as possible.

We keep our eyes out for great logs that will make good play features so if you get stuck or want something a bit special please do get in touch.

Natural play, log, playground, school, play logs

Natural play, log, school, playground, play logs



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Water play channel

One of the slider images on our home page is of this great little water play area we built in a private garden in south Wales.

The water comes from a water butt and slowly works its way along the narrow channel set in the slate patio, at the edge of the patio the water is collected in a channel carved into a green oak railway sleeper, it then trickles off the end into the sandpit.

Hours of fun, for us making it and the kids playing in it!

Natural water play, natural play, water

Natural water play, natural play

Natural water play channel, natural play

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Den building Kit Delivered

A den building kit recently made and delivered to a local holiday park.

The frames are very easy to install requiring just three holes, four bolts and a reasonable amount of muscle. We are happy to provide a quote to install these frames of you can use the instructions and a few volunteers to construct one in a few hours. We will be happy to help over the phone if needed.

For pricing please visit the online shop.

Den frame, natural play, copper beech play, den building kit

Den building, natural play, timber, den building kit

Delivered safely, and free of charge!

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Natural Climbing Frame

A few photos of a large natural climbing frame we built a few years ago. The frame incorporates two crows nests several balance ropes and two scramble nets to give endless play opportunities.

Natural Play frame

Natural Play frame








Natural Play frame

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Natural Play Tunnel

The photos below show two large natural play tunnels we installed at a school in Swindon. The children just love these tunnels, as you can see they provide adventure and an opportunity to chillax with friends!

These pipes are supplied in six meter lengths, however transport becomes an issue (expensive) if kept in this length so we recommend using the pipe in three meter sections.

We can supply bends and T sections to fit this pipe, with careful design and consideration regarding drainage and access a great warren could be built to provide endless fun for children and adults alike.

Natural Play Tunnel

Natural play tunnel

Natural Play Tunnel

Natural play tunnel

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School Veg. Beds

The sun is out and I think spring is officially here!?

Helen has been working hard to get our raised beds at home ready for planting and I know many schools will be keen to get some growing space ready for spring planting.

The beds below are made from long cedar boards that can be bent to a curve quite easily. Alternatively we use half width green oak railway sleepers to make beds about 200mm high x 2400mm x 1200mm, ideal for children to work on and very quick to install.

School grounds natural play

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Natural Play Sandpit

A sandpit creates a great, low cost natural play space that can be added to and enhanced over time. By using carefully placed large rocks for edging we can create all sorts nooks and crannies for imaginative play. A smooth plank and blocks of wood will encourage building projects and incredible creations, add a little water and your children will be in heaven!

Below are just a few sandpits we have made in private gardens and schools.

Rocks can create a fascinating edge to a sandpit

Sandpit, water channel, natural play

Early years, sandpit, play

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Natural Play Climbing Frames

We have designed and built many and varied climbing structures and play frames throughout the UK. Below are a few examples of some of our favourites.

We will generally use pealed chestnut poles for large frames, these are sanded smooth and oiled to give a lovely tactile, durable and safe surface. We also make frames from oak with the bark left on, this gives a more natural look and feel and is again long lasting, all our timber comes from well managed sustainable woodlands.

If you have a project in mind we will be happy to talk through your ideas and provide sketches and costings for a play frame designed specifically for your project, please get in touch if you would like to discuss your project.

Natural Play Platform before surfacing

Natural Play Net

Natural Play

Natural Play frame



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Small Play Frame

This is one of our small play frames, in this case in a private garden near Chepstow. The platform can become a great den with a sheet draped over the poles and the walkway is easily transformed into a pirates gangplank!

Made from chestnut and cedar with a poly-hemp rope the frame is very durable and can be extended as the children grow.

Please get in touch if you would like to discuss your project, we will be happy to provide a few sketches to give an idea of what we could make for you and your children.

A testimonial sent from this client

“Our grandchildren have had so much fun this summer in the area that Jim has designed and laid out in our garden. He has such amazing insight into how children play, they have discovered so much he put in for them. Having said this, the area is also pleasant for people of all ages to sit and relax, and is attractive within the garden as a whole. The summer house with a “living roof” is another imaginative addition.

We are delighted with the project and outcome, and look forward to Jim adding to the design as the children grow.”

Ceridwen & Tim Coulson, Carreg a Gwydr


Natural play frame Wales

Natural play garden frame

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Outdoor Teaching

While uploading the photos for the previous post I came across these pictures of an outdoor teaching shelter/ classroom we built a few years ago in Herefordshire.

Again using chestnut posts and a cedar frame for the roof but this time employing a rather fancy reciprocal frame design for the main structure. We built two identical buildings either side of this clay lined pond, teaching in the area is strictly supervised but the whole setting creates a fantastic space for green woodwork and other craft lessons, Lucky pupils!


Outdoor teaching

Green woodwork, classroom, teaching

School Shelter


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Forest School Birmingham

A shelter that we built last year for a forest school in Birmingham.

With chestnut poles, a cedar roof frame and cedar shingles on the roof the shelter is very durable and sits naturally in the landscape.

Please see our Outdoor Teaching gallery for more examples of this type of work.

Forest school Birmingham

Forest School Birmingham

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Den building frames

A natural play space and den building frame can be very simple and inexpensive to install. We all know how children will naturally fine ways to play with a few sticks, given a suitable area and a little encouragement children will play for hours making imaginary worlds.

Below are a few examples of simple den making spaces we have installed, even a few nice poles with a branch or tree trunk to lean them against will be great fun, a sheet to drape over the top will make a den even better!

The Forestry Commission have done a lot of work on Natural Play environments, here are some of their ideas http://www.forestry.gov.uk/forestry/infd-7lsehw

Forest school, Den building frame

Den building frame







Natural play space, carvings, den building frame

Den building kit

Early years, den building area




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Balance Logs

A set of balance logs we recently made for a customer who came to us via the online shop. These formed part of a private garden which included a log seating area and willow dome.

A quote from our client

“I thought you might like to see some photographs of the play equipment in situ?  It is fabulous and really fits in well in that area at the back of the garden.

There are also some photographs on my Facebook page, and please feel free to use or share any of the images.


My clients and I are really happy with the play equipment and I know the kids will get years of enjoyment out of it.

Thanks again and I look forward to doing business with you in the future 🙂

Best Wishes


Jacqueline Breton Garden Design

Balance logs available in our online shopNatural play balance logs

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Water Play

Images of a water play area we recently installed in Nuneaton. The water is circulated using simple hand pumps with the water coming out from the stainless steal spouts.

The surface is laid with natural stone pitching, a drainage channel around the edge provides more play opportunities.


Water Play

Water Play Area

Water Play Trough

Water Play

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