As we bid one year farewell and welcome another, the time is ripe for getting into planning mode. You’ve probably been thinking about your resolutions and personal goals for 2018 – but what about a strategy to spruce up your family property?A superb backyard can completely transform your home, giving you and your loved ones the perfect spot to relax and enjoy yourselves. Once winter is out of the way and the weather warms up, you can get to work on a garden that will become the talk of the neighbourhood.So start planning now with these top tips from Instashade…Pick innocent plantsIf you’ve got little ones scampering around and playing sports on the grass, you’ll need to make sure your plants are all child-friendly; i.e. free of prickly thorns and sharp edges. Stick to softer-feeling plants that won’t cause scratches and bursts of tears.It’s also worth removing any greenery that might upset the stomach of the hungry, oh-so-curious family pet (florae like English Ivy, lilies, hydrangea, oleander). This way, you won’t have to suffer a rush of panic when you catch the creature hovering around your garden plants.Create a pet-friendly zoneIf your garden is home to a zealous pet, keeping the backyard in good condition can seem like a mystery. Energetic dogs and cats have a habit of cutting up the grass when they’re let loose, but you can counteract this by assigning an area exclusively for them.Consider decking or paving an area of the garden, or keep an overgrown grassy area in the corner so your pet always has a place to play. Litter it with toys and treats so they quickly come to recognise it as their own, and you’ll keep the rest of your backyard tidy as a result.Add a twinkle with water featuresWater features can give your garden a look of grace and elegance at any time of year, gathering gorgeous crystals of ice in winter and shimmering brightly in the summertime.Often, these structures require very little maintenance to retain their beautiful appearance, and attract a wide variety of stunning birds and insects to your backyard. With sublime water features, your garden will feel like a utopia.Create a classy outdoor dining area Perhaps the finest addition to any family garden is a marvellous outdoor dining area. If you’ve got a great place to tuck into meals together, you’ll create some picture-perfect memories that you’ll all remember for a lifetime.Deck out casual seating with a plentiful supply of pillows, cushions and blankets, and add to the comfort levels by investing in some quality lighting and a luxury parasol to boot. This sets the scene for a dining area suitable for any season – and you can pick up your parasol right here from Instashade.We have some of the finest umbrella designs available on the market, offering supreme protection from inclement weather and essential shade when the sun beats down. Browse our range here and take the first step towards a fantastic family garden.