How to create a backyard play space your kids will adore? Here are the top strategies.
Playing outdoors is a classic part of childhood and one you’ll want to make sure your kids enjoy. With a little planning, you’ll be surprised how easy it is to create the perfect outdoor play space in your own backyard.
Consider your space
First of all, what do you have to work with? Try to envision your outdoor space through a playful child’s eyes. You can build a fort or a swing set on even ground, transform steep hills into slides and climbing areas, and secure swings and hideaways in sturdy trees.
Consider your kids
What types of activities do your kids already enjoy? What new skills and interests are you hoping to encourage? What ideas do they have for creating a play space?
Learn about materials
There are so many choices available these days: pergola metal brackets and wood for a customized DIY project, pre-made playground equipment and playhouses that just need setting up, and everything in between. A little investigation will show you how to make your plans a reality.
Keep safety in mind
Play equipment should be sturdy and well-anchored. Remove anything in the play space that a curious child might knock down, pull off, or try to swallow, and keep even the shallowest kiddie pools emptied or securely covered when not in use.
Don’t go overboard
Research shows that overly safe play equipment actually increases the chance of injury because children try to make boring equipment more fun by using it in ways it was never intended for. Explore your options to make sure you find a proper balance and don’t be afraid to ask for expert advice.
Integrate different play styles
A play space that accommodates a variety of activities will hold kids’ interest far longer than a single-use area.
Organized sports and pick-up matches can be wonderful experiences, but they’re not the only game in town. Climbing structures, obstacle courses, even good old jump ropes, and hula hoops all help kids burn off energy and establish an active lifestyle.
Add water elements
Even if you don’t have the space for a kiddie pool, kids can still enjoy sprinklers, water guns, and water balloons. An old storage tub makes the perfect miniature “lake” for sailing toy boats and taking plastic toys for a swim.
Connect to nature
It’s important to keep your yard welcoming to your kids (and to you!) by controlling poison ivy and unwelcome insects such as yellow jackets or fire ants. Gardening is an excellent way to help children appreciate the natural world. Even if your outdoor space is limited to a balcony or patio, you can put your kids in charge of a container garden of flowers, strawberries, or cherry tomatoes.
Embrace the mess
Art projects, science experiments, even cooking: given the potential for spills and drips, you may be reluctant to have these types of activities inside your home, but an outdoor space reserved for untidy entertainment can be the perfect solution. If you have enough room, you can even build a playhouse or treehouse dedicated to creativity.