With the month of September upon us, you may be thinking that this might not be the optimal time to be creating an outdoor play area. However, I have learned from many backyard set-ups and redesigns, that the fall is actually an ideal time to recreate a space. The weather’s not as hot, materials are usually less expensive, and if you get it done in the fall, it’s set and ready to go in the spring!
Today I have a special guest, David Reeves, who will be sharing how to create a play area that blends in with the local environment.
As a parent, you know how important it is for your children to have a place to play outside. That’s why you pack them all up and take them to the park so often, right? Having an outdoor play space in your own backyard is an even better choice, when possible. Your own space ensures your kids stay active and are engaging with nature, even when you can’t get to the park.
You may be hesitant, because you don’t want to mar the look of your yard — but who says that your outdoor play space has to be garish plastic and brightly colored? Consider these tips to create an outdoor play space that blends in with the natural environment. As a bonus, the play area, when it is natural, will help your children connect with nature.
1. Use Natural Items
Have you ever noticed how your children can make a plaything out of just about anything? A small rock becomes a pet, a stick becomes a doll or a gun or a bow and arrow, and dirt is crafted into mud pies and other food items.
Capitalize on this by using natural items in your outdoor play space. Give the kids a patch of dirt to dig in and make mud. Use large rocks as climbing structures and logs as places to sit. In reality, all you have to do is provide the tools and a space where kids are free to play as they wish, and the kids will make their own fun and discover a little about nature in the process.
2. Use Wood
If natural items alone are not enough, add some man-made structures, but keep with the natural theme by using wood for these structures. A small climbing wall or a wooden swing set can complement your natural outdoor space well, while being fun for the kids.
3. Add a Water Feature
If your children are old enough to be trusted with some water, add a water feature to the outdoor play area. A small fountain or waterfall gives them a source for the water they need to create mud pies, and you will attract wildlife that would not normally be attracted to the space. Teach them to be respectful of wildlife, and your kids will have a blast with the occasional frog or toad that wanders in when you have a water feature.
4. Purchase Nature-Inspired Play Structures
If you are more comfortable with plastic and man-made play structures, and you want something, such as a slide, that you can’t make out of wood, look around for nature-inspired play structures. Plastic rock climbing structures, realistic-looking climbing logs made out of something that won’t give splinters and even slides in natural colors can give your outdoor play space a bit more fun without hurting the overall look.
5. Don’t Forget the Sandbox!
Put all thoughts of the mess aside. Your kids love to play in the sand. Why not give them a place to do so outside? Creating a sandbox or sand play area is very easy. Box off the area using weatherproofed 4×4 boards, dig away some of the soil from underneath to give it some depth and fill it with sand. Let your kids go crazy building in one of nature’s best playthings.
With a little bit of creative thinking, your backyard can be transformed into a great place for your child to play, all without changing the look or feel of the space. Get inspired by nature, and let your child’s creativity take over!
David Reeves is Marketing Manager of Superior Playgrounds (http://srpplayground.com/) in Carrollton, GA. The company supplies playground equipment and play structures to several industries, including education and living facilities. They have a variety of structures and components, such as slides and swing sets, to fit in your indoor or outdoor play space.