Ten Great Ideas to Add Fun to Your Backyard
For Young People and the Young at Heart
When your kids get to the age where they want to be outside playing, that expanse of lawn you put in when you remodeled the yard might not have much to offer. Of course, there are plenty of ready to assemble playsets but they tend to be a bit expensive.
Why not try being a bit more creative and go all out. No matter what you decide, your hard work is sure to put a smile on your kids' faces. I did a lot of looking around all over the place to see what I could find before I made my final choices.
Another thing to keep in mind as you choose your games, kids grow up and what might have been fun for a 5-year-old isn't going to do much for a 10-year-old. Keep this in mind as you choose each game and in how permanently you install them.
Before Planning and Building
Before you go too far in the planning stage or even get started on the construction phase of your backyard wonderland project, there is one thing you MUST do. You need to check with your local authorities to see if there any rules or regulations in place covering what you have in mind.
There is nothing worse than being fined for not having the right permit or being told you have to tear your work down because it doesn't meet with the regulations.
Here Are a Few Great Ideas for You to Think About
What little one doesn't like playing in a sandbox? From making sandcastle to playing with Tonka® toys, this is sure to keep younger kids actively engaged out in the fresh air.
Depending on your local rules and regulations, your sandbox can be as simple as a box made from 2x6s and a few bags of sand. It can also be complex and fun to build with benches that fold flat to make a lid that keeps the local critters out.
Kids of all ages can have a blast with their own backyard bowling alley. Unlike an indoor alley with perfectly smooth lane, yours can be a bit more rustic and durable. Remember this is just for fun.
There are a number of different designs available and you can often buy used pins from real bowling alleys that have outlived their usefulness for a reasonable price. You can even add lighting, so everyone can still have fun after the sun has set.
Life Size Chess/Checker Board
Image courtesy of Tams Treasure Box
Most kids learn to play checkers at a pretty young age. It is often one of the first “board games” they learn to play. But why should they be stuck inside on a sunny day when you can use simple square cement paver to create one set of squares and then leave the grass for the other set.
Of course, you can buy enough colored pavers to create the whole board. You can make your own checkers, or buy them along with chess piece.
Soccer Ball Pool Table
Whoever said playing pool was something you have to do inside? Obviously, they had never seen an outdoor pool table. As you can see in this photo, it doesn't have to be anything fancy. This one is made from 2x4s and a large piece of green outdoor carpeting.
You can buy ready to use sets of soccer ball sized pool balls or you can make your own with white soccer balls and a bunch of spray paint. Your kids will love this, and it will hone their soccer skills in time for the next season.
Image courtesy of Rogue Engineer
If you are a Survivor® fan, you can't help but to have seen the slingshot challenge that appears in several seasons. Go for distance, set up targets, have competitions, the only limit is how far your kids can fire their loads, after all, you don't really want them lobbing “bombs” over the fence at the “enemy” do you?
Every kid needs to have a tree house to play in. It can be simple like the one in this picture you can go crazy and build a small mansion. Over the years a tree house will be a place to have tea parties, play at war, and as your kids reach their teens a place to hide away and read a book.
When working on the design for your kid's tree house, be sure to include them in the putting together what they would like to have and what you can afford to build.
Outdoor Race Track for Hot Wheels® Cars
What little kid doesn't like playing with Hot Wheels® or Matchbox® cars on a race track. For decades, there have been many different types of indoor race tracks in the form of plastic tracks, rugs with tracks made in the weave, and more. But, what if your kids could have the same type of track outside?
It really doesn't take much, simply draw out the shape of the track on the grass, cut out the sod, and then fill in the new track with your choice of medium such as tar or cement. Draw in your own lines and let the fun begin.
Image courtesy of TTS Playhouse Shelter
Can you imagine the look on your child's face when you finally let them out in the backyard and they see the playhouse you have built for them?
Kids love to have their owns space and depending on the size and style of playhouse you build, will use it well past the age you might think they would abandon it.
There are hundreds of plans for playhouses to choose from ranging from simple to the most complex and luxurious.
Outdoor Radio-Controlled Car/Truck Track
There is going to come a time when your kids grow out of Hot Wheels® and Tonka Toys® and move up to radio-controlled fun in the form of race cars, monster trucks, winged outlaw cars, and more.
When this happens, you get to join in the fun by creating the most incredible track, make it as challenging as you like for the monster truck, add some serious banks for the race cars, or create the perfect oval for those Friday and Saturday night races.
Host races with neighborhood kids, have your kids bring their friends. A small investment can yield amazing results and produce great family bonding time.
Image courtesy of In-Ground Trampolines
Over the years, trampolines have earned a pretty bad rap thanks to the number of injuries resulting from falls to the ground. There is a much better way to let your kids experience the fun of bouncing around to the max.
Instead of simply setting the trampoline up and letting them have at it. This is a recipe for disaster. Yet if you actually dig a hole in the ground deep enough for the trampoline to be at ground level and then add in the safety net. There is no way to guarantee no one will get hurt, but it will go a long way towards minimizing the risk and your entire family is going to have a blast.
This Is Just a Sample
This is just a small sample of the hundreds of different games, tracks, tree/playhouses, and fun projects you can put together in the backyard for your kids. Kids today need more reasons than ever to get out and play in the fresh air instead of sitting in the house watching television or playing video games.
The most important thing to keep in mind, is that each of your kids has different likes and dislikes when it comes to outdoor activities. Along with all of the above ideas, you can do simple things like putting up a volleyball/badminton net that the whole family can use.
Know the Rules
Image courtesy of Apartment Therapy
Do not forget to check with your local planning office to make sure your plans meet with any and all regulations. Imagine how disappointed your kids are going to be if the city makes you take down the amazing tree house you built for them because Treehouses are not allowed, but you could have built a ground level playhouse.
Beware of making any installation to permanent as your children's interests and needs are going to change as they get older. Semi-permanent structures are strong enough to stand the test of time, yet can be relatively easily removed or upgraded to meet your kids' changing needs.
I hope this has given you at least a little bit of an idea of the many things you can do to turn your plain backyard into a wonderland your kids are sure to enjoy. Take your time, do your homework, measure twice and cut once. Listen to your kids and work their ideas into your plans.
If you like what you have read here, please let me know. If you have any other ideas and would like to see them here, please contact me here. Don't forget to send me pictures of your backyard when you are done, I love seeing how other's take the ideas presented here and adapt them to create their own dreams.