Attending Glee, the leading garden and leisure industry show, was a great opportunity for Nathan Dodd to spot trends and anticipate products that will come onto the market in the near future.
What a relief it is to have any kind of outdoor space where children can let off steam, filled with play equipment and Nathan James Dodd says that your children will be occupied for hours.
We all love them in the house but sometimes, when the weather will allow, a well equipped garden or a small piece of play equipment on a balcony, can be a great release for a parent as well as a child.
Trampolines have grown in popularity during recent years. Round or square, they should be made of the most robust materials and, when used by small children, enclosed by safety netting.
Mini-trampolines are suitable for toddlers and young children, they can even be themed as a 'Pink Palace' or a 'King's Fortress'. The 'Funclosure' is a colourful blow-up structure that sits on a trampoline with the children inside.
Bigger children, and adults who think they are still big kids, are better suited to larger 8ft – 14ft models with heavy duty frames, springs and padding on which they can throw tucked, piked and straddle shapes as if a gold medal depended on them.
The simple things in life are sometimes the best and you can't get anything much simpler to play in than a timber framed sand pit. In this electronic age, isn't it great that youngsters can still get hours of entertainment from sand, a bucket and a spade. This is also true of a sand and water table or sand picnic table that can provide fun and active play and are perfect if there is only a small garden or balcony.
Also for toddlers, don't forget one of the oldest, simplest yet best loved designs, the see-saw. Still around after all these years, a see-saw with easy grip handles and plastic seats and that spins through 360 degrees will give young children hours of enjoyment.
Swings, made from timber or metal, range from sets suitable for babies and toddlers with a moulded seat and leg bracket through to those with multiple seats and gliders.
A traditional wooden framed single or double seater takes about an hour to assemble and comes with anchor points, cross beams for stability and soft feel ropes.
Then the choice widens to those made from substantial wooden poles to others that might be called activity centres, boasting climbing ropes, ladders, wave slides, fireman's poles, monkey bars even a 'rock wall' and cargo net. Enough activity going on there to keep a cub scout pack occupied.
The ultimate play centre is known as 'The Wildebeast' and is packed with activity features that will provide 24/7 entertainment. A structure more likely to be found in a play park than a garden. There are three towers of varying heights, climbing ramp, swing, slide, two seat glider, picnic table, clatter bridge and sand pit just for starters. A sure fire winner for agile and energetic youngsters.
Other play equipment include a toddlers' 'rock wall' with multi-coloured hand and foot grips, climbing net, play den, 4ft slide and play deck all in one structure. There are further variations including imaginative play centres with nautical themes that are ideal for ocean going role play. They include an outlook area and fabric hull with portholes together with a ladder and slide, rock wall or swing.
All this equipment is designed with childrens' well being in mind. You can rest assured that they are enjoying their free time, interacting with their friends and learning all the time in the safety of your own garden.
With only a few months' training under her belt, GardenSite's own Flori Bosnigeanu took part in this year's Great Birmingham Run, raising over £500 for the city's Children's Hospital.
Create a Halloween party in your house or garden with ideas and suggestions from David Coton that will keep your children and neighbours thrilled and spooked on the 31st October.
Looking for some advice on how to decorate your garden for halloween? David Coton has some great ideas to help you create a horror themed garden to scare your neighbours and any trick & treaters who come to your door.
To grow the biggest, scariest pumpkin in time for Halloween isn't easy as they take some time to mature and prefer a warm climate. To have the best chance of success Martyn Loach recommends sowing seed indoors during April and then planting out in late May or June.