One of the main reasons homeowners invest in redoing their backyard is to create a fun, safe outdoor play space for their children. In his book Family Friendly Landscapes, Garden Artisan Scott Cohen shares many of his kid-friendly backyard designs, including these four ideas that will transform your garden into an inviting space your kids will love to spend time in.
Kid-Friendly Backyard Designs
There are a number of ways to incorporate kid-friendly backyard designs that make your outdoor space a delight for your children — from toddlers to teens.
Build a Kinder-Garden with Your Kids
“Kindergarten” derives from the German word for “a garden for kids”. This early childhood education concept was created by a man named Friedrich Frobel in 1840, with the idea that, “Children are like tiny flowers; they are varied and need care, but each is beautiful alone and glorious when seen in the community of peers.” He wanted to create an environment that enriched young children and helped grow their minds. You can do the same in your own backyard!
Building a “Kinder-Garden” with your kids is a great way to not only teach them the valuable lesson of gardening their own fruits, vegetables, and flowers (what an accomplishment!), but also spend some quality time together as a family.
Hardscaping: More than Concrete and Walkways
Do you have an active bike rider, skateboarder, or roller-blader? Expand your hardscaping walkways into wider spaces to create riding paths that are smooth and fun. No more riding around in circles in the driveway, or taking a risk by riding out in potentially busy streets. Hardscape riding paths can be cleverly woven throughout your backyard.
Another way to use hardscaping is to create a fun game of hopscotch. It can serve as a multi-function path, where you and your kids could opt to walk or skip your way through your garden.
Public playgrounds can be such a chore. Unless they are within walking distance, getting to the playground is half the battle. It involves packing up plenty of snacks and drinks, getting your kids dressed and their shoes on, and then clambering into the car to travel to a crowded playground. Once there, maybe your kids will make friends or maybe a kid they don’t know steals their toy — the social situation is stressful just on its own. And there’s no guarantee that the play structure is even clean or sanitized.
Having a play structure in your backyard offers the same benefits as a playground, without the hassle. Your kids can just run out the backdoor, invite their friends over to play all day, and snacks and drinks are always just steps away.
Turn a Boring Patio into a Board Game
A covered patio can do more than just provide shade and a place to rest — it can be the perfect play area for your kids and teens. Why not make your patio into a life-size checkerboard or a game of chess? In his book, Scott notes that you could create giant checker pieces out of frisbees or custom-make the pieces yourself.
Or, if you have enough of your children’s friends over, each can assume the position of a certain chess piece, while two players direct them. It could be an evening of belly laughs as the life-size pieces move into position or overtake another piece.
And why limit yourself to only chess or checkers? Invest in giant dice or wooden blocks with letters and use your patio for a giant game of Yahtzee or Scrabble. Or if you have a budding Dungeon Master, your patio could convert into the perfect player board for a thrilling campaign of Dungeons and Dragons.
This design is easy to achieve — simply alternate two shades or colors of pavers, and you’ll have the perfect full-scale multi-use board game patio!
Looking for more inspiration? Grab a copy of Scott Cohen’s Family Friendly Landscapes for more kid-friendly backyard designs and ideas. Read it together and see what other ideas you and your kids come up with for your backyard!