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Fun In The Sun: Your Guide To Creating The Perfect Backyard Playground

There are so many fun ways to enjoy outdoor recreation in all seasons! But at times, you may not want to have to leave the comfort of your own home or backyard for a playground experience. When you want the fun of a recreational adventure without having to abandon your familiar stomping grounds, that’s where creating your own backyard playground comes in handy!

Read on for some fun ideas on how to create the perfect backyard playground…from features to install, to equipment you might need, and so much more.

Small set of playground on a green lawn at the fenced backyard at Utah. There are swings and slide near the trees and white vinyl fence outside against the neighborhood houses at the background.

Start with Landscaping

The best place to start with creating the perfect backyard playground is to begin with proper landscaping! A fun, bright, vivid play area can make the difference between attracting kids to outdoor play, or discouraging their senses.

Consider landscaping with some beautiful flowers. The brighter, the better, as these flowers will often attract butterflies and birds for kiddos to chase and enjoy. You might also hang up hummingbird feeders, regular bird feeders, and even squirrel feeders to create a zoo-like experience right in your backyard playground.

In addition, when building your landscaping, consider adding some trees that are on the safer side for climbing. This offers a great opportunity for kids to experience a sense of independence and to learn the limits of their strength as they work to climb these trees.

Fruit trees are another great option for a backyard playground. Nothing beats having ripe fruit, picked in your own backyard, to snack on while you play. Kids can also help tend to the trees as part of their play and chores, giving them an added sense of responsibility and control over their environment.

Lastly, think of sensory input when landscaping. Tall, soft grasses, bamboo, and other plants can add a really great sensory experience for kids of all ages. Touching, brushing up against, and playing with these kinds of plants can help calm and regulate a child’s nervous system, leading to fewer tantrums and a happier kiddo overall.

Standard Play Options

Backyard Swing Sets

Install a Backyard Swing Set

The backyard swing set is a staple for childhood wonder and play. These sets make a fantastic addition to any backyard playground, and luckily there are many, many options to tailor to your needs. Backyard swing sets for toddlers, backyard swing sets for older kids, plastic sets, wood sets, metal sets…it’s all up to you!

To help you get started choosing the best backyard swing set for your backyard playground, check out our Top 5 Picks for the Best Backyard Swing Set.

Hang a Tire Swing

Similar to the backyard swing set, tire swings are another timeless addition to many a backyard playground. These swings hold great appeal for both kiddos and parents due to their sturdiness, how easy and cost effective they can be to find and install, and how long they tend to last. Sometimes tire swings will hang around long past the end of childhood!

Tire swings in your backyard playground can be hung a couple of different ways. You can go the traditional route of the vertical tire swing, or you can hang it horizontal like a saucer swing. The choice is up to you based on your backyard playground aesthetic, space, and needs.

When hanging a tire swing in your backyard playground, just be sure you anchor it properly. You will need a sturdy tree limb that will not risk breaking as kids get older and bigger, or if multiple kids are playing with the tire swing at once.

When hanging your tire swing, the straps should not bite into the branch, as this can damage and compromise the branch as well as raise the risk of the tire swing itself breaking down.

Make a Sandy Getaway

While you may not have the ability–or the desire–to make a trip to the sandy beach every year, you do have the option to bring the feeling of the seashore to your backyard playground! Purchase bags of play sand and spread them out within the confines of a low rock or brick border to create a sandy getaway for kiddos to play in–and adults to sink their toes into every now and again.

This can be a great opportunity for sensory play, and it’s perfect for kids of all ages. You can elevate the appeal of this sandy area by burying “treasure” (such as special toys, ziplock bags of treats, etc.) and sending your little ones on a treasure hunt.

Set Up a Splash Pad

If you want to complete the sun, sand, and surf appeal of your backyard playground, a splash pbad is an absolute must! These can be found in many sizes, and there are even no slip options for kiddos still learning to balance.

A splash pad is a great way to beat the heat for folks who don’t have the space in their backyard playground, or room in their budget, to accommodate a pool. You can still have tons of fun with water on a hot day with a backyard splash pad.

And, combining the splash pad with a sandy area, kids can enjoy running through the sand and soaking their feet–and clothes!–in the water for a truly magical backyard playground experience.

Create a Natural Backyard Playset

Top view of a yellow inflatable mattress in an above ground private backyard swimming pool

Create a Water Adventure

Having clean, standing water like a backyard pond, or a small, natural stream or built-in fountain, can be a fantastic addition for both sensory and beauty to your backyard playground. You can often install your own backyard pond, or if you aren’t big into DIY, hire someone to install it for you.

Whenever you plan to have water present in your backyard playground, it is also important to keep safety measures in mind. Be sure to keep an eye on smaller children around standing water and ensure all water is kept clean and free of harmful bacteria, algae, etc.

Install Tree Stumps

If you have tree stumps in your backyard, rather than removing them, you can turn them into a valuable addition in your backyard playground! Use them to make a hopscotch area, or stepping stones to aid in balance practice.

Tree stumps can also double as fun outdoor chairs, a canvas to draw or paint on, or even work as a table for playing games and toys on! If you don’t have any tree stumps in your backyard, you can often find stumps available at arbors, nurseries, or other nature based locations.

Saw Some Logs

While you may not necessarily have to saw them apart yourself, using logs is a great asset to a natural backyard playground play space! Logs can be used to help teach and hone balance, as well as serving as seats and a vessel for pure imagination.

Kids will often use logs to help their imaginations run wild. A smoothed down log can serve as a balance beam, a train, a bridge over a roaring canyon, or whatever your kid can dream up. And since logs are often easily available from arbors, nurseries, after Christmastime, and even from local parks that remove trees for safety reasons, this can be a very cost effective option for your backyard playground.

Make a Rock Garden

Rocks can serve so many uses in a background playground! You can use them to create an obstacle course, a climbing wall, or a fort. You can also simply wedge the rocks into the ground for kids to climb up and leap off of. Be sure to supervise littler kids in this kind of play!

Rock gardens can also serve as a conduit for water, where you can craft a small waterfall or fountain as part of your backyard playground. You can use them to edge paths or different, designated parts of your backyard playground as well.

Smaller rocks and pebbles can also be used for making a digging pit or a walkway for kids to run on while barefoot. Just be sure that toddlers don’t put these small rocks in their mouths.

Go for Sensory Fun

Create a Sound Wall

Kids of all ages love to make sounds! They love figuring out the different noises made by various objects and creating music all their own. This is why a sound wall makes such a great sensory addition to a backyard playground.

Sound walls can be built with anything you have lying around the house. Simply mount objects like plastic bowls, metal cookware, tupperware tubs, and the like on a wooden board placed upright in your backyard playground. Then, offer tools like wooden spoons…or simply let kiddos use their hands!…and let the exploring of the sound wall begin.

When installing a sound wall, it is important to be mindful of noise ordinances or close by neighbors in your area. A sound wall is a fantastic sensory play option, but may need to be adjusted to fit your space and sound needs relative to your backyard playground.

String Up a Tightrope

A backyard tightrope can be an excellent addition to any backyard playground! Also known as a slackline, these broad straps can be strung up between two sturdy posts or a pair of trees and make for hours of focused fun.

Kids of all ages can have a blast working on their balancing skills with a slackline. This setup encourages body mindfulness and can help increase the overall balance of both kiddos and adults. A straightforward, no frills addition to your backyard playground, this tightrope can lead to some fun competition and help boost kids’ confidence and motor skills at the same time.

Lay the Right Foundation

It’s said that our feet are in contact with the ground more than any part of our bodies throughout our lives. This is something to keep in mind when creating the perfect backyard playground! In addition to natural grass, consider adding in some fun sensory input that kiddos can run barefoot through.

This can include smooth pebbles, sand, shredded rubber, dirt, and other materials that offer a change of pace from the norm. Just be sure to monitor little kids in this sensory space, so they don’t put foreign objects in their mouths.

Make a Craft Corner

Sometimes, particularly on hot days or after a lot of other activities, you and your kiddos might not want to use your backyard playground for a lot of exertive, physical play. With this in mind, consider creating a corner of your backyard play space that’s made with crafting and quiet play in mind.

Set up some shade, a sturdy table and chairs, and let this become the area for drawing, crafting, creating, and more. You might mount a chalkboard on the side of the house for kids to draw on, or keep chalk on hand for little ones to try their hand at decorating the sidewalk, patio, etc.

A Final Tip for Creating The Perfect Backyard Playground

swingset or playground in a home backyard

There are countless features, games, and more that can make your backyard playground a dreamy oasis for kids of all ages. But, ultimately, what matters most is not how great your backyard playground is, but how great a fit it is for your kiddo.

When gathering ideas for creating the best background playground, be sure to take input from your kiddos. That may flow naturally from how well you know a child’s likes and interests, or by consulting with more communicative children to invite their opinions and feedback on ideas for their backyard play space.

Ultimately, the more input you have from your kids, the more involved they are likely to feel in the whole backyard playground creation process. This will help the space to feel the most like it’s theirs…and that is the best way to ensure your backyard playground will retain a magical, welcoming feel that sees it being used for year after year.

Wrapping up the Perfect Backyard Playground

Get ready to enjoy the perfect backyard playground with any number of the fun and exciting additions from this list–and don’t let the enjoyment stop there! Check out our Backyard Living page for other ideas on how to elevate your backyard space…from decor and design ideas, to family friendly installations and so much more.