Make Playtime Something Else! Building a Kid-Friendly Backyard in a Few Easy Steps
Updated: Mar 8
This one here goes to all the parents or soon-to-be parents out there. Prepping for your dream home is a big thing, but even more so when new arrivals are on the way. Arrivals imply further needs and considerations from something as small and every day as items on a shopping list to the none expected home project expenses, of which none come to mind quite as often as the good old playground.
Play areas are often a top priority, safe havens for the little tykes to explore and make-believe (and an excellent way to spend all that energy so that you can catch some actual shut-eye now and then). Whatever your aim or vision for this hypothetical recreational spot, you need to hold it as high a regard for any other home project you've done (or will do) so far. You need to be thinking ahead, planning carefully, and playing it smart, so we at HAC Arquitectura will go over the ABC, or rather, the five easy steps for you to build a fantastic, kid-friendly backyard!
1. Consider the Limitations of your Backyard for the Playground AKA Think Ahead and Adapt
If you want to make a fantastic backyard playground, you need the space, simple as that. Sure, indoors fun is valid, but you can't quite get that same adventurous feeling within concrete walls, not until they start picking up books. So, think ahead.
If you happen to be reading this before you've started building, consider allotting extra space for the backyard; anywhere from 1500 to 6000 square feet works. Of course, this depends on where you live. The more urban the area, the more expensive those extra math bits will turn out—the more rural or open the site, the more valid the investment.
Alternatively, if you already happen to have your dream home but are instead in the process of adjusting to this new arrival, double-check the numbers; if your backyard space falls into the range mentioned above, then good for you! Otherwise, you can either expand or improvise.
2. Consider the Possibilities of your Playground Project and their Requirements
There are many ways for you to go about this dream playground concept. Rather than bombard you with an expansive list, we will give you a quick run-through of the fail-safe options and how you can approach them.
First off, we've got the classics: an excellent old rope swing and slide playground. This one needs no introduction. Whether you got to play in your backyard or at the local park, you know how the hours could fly when playing in one of these, and today's generation is no different, tech or no tech.
The swing is easy enough. Either you can take the all-natural approach, hang a 1.5-inch-thick rope around a sturdy tree limb, or set up your own, albeit at a higher cost. As for the slides, it depends on the size of your backyard. If you've got room to spare (upwards of 2k square feet), you can go with a complete, castle-like playground set; otherwise, you can make do with a single slide.
Secondly, we've got waterworks. During these trying pandemic times, public pools and water parks are less and less of a promising get-together idea, so having your own can go a long way. Again, depending on size, you can either take the full-blown approach by building a pool (if not install one) or go compact, but still fun, with a slip-and-slide.
Now, pool installation is a big deal, and I'm sure there's a good blog about tackling that scenario (wink wink), so instead, I'll give you some quick pointers for the slip-n-slide. The mat part is easy enough, a no-brainer; the water-spraying deck, on the other hand, isn't that far off either, honestly. Make a drilled PVC pipe structure, make sure that it's at least three to four feet off the ground, and make sure that you can attach a garden hose. The result will be more or less a kid wash.
Lastly, we've got something leaning more on the high-adrenaline spectrum and focused more on the post-toddler stage: a bike path. A bike path is a perfect combo for those of you who want your kids to engage in physical activity without the risk of them riding their bikes on the street. Carve around the edges of the backyard and maybe layout a good enough obstacle course.
As a quick example, you can include a low balance beam (wood slab, six inches off the ground, roughly ten wide) and a teeter-totter for your kids to ride up from one end and then go down from another (attach an eight-foot two-by-ten board, centered, to a two-foot chunk of log anywhere from five to six inches across). With this, your kid will be a tried-and-true star of the wheels.
3. Gather Second Opinions, Final Materials, and Start Working on that playground
Now that you've picked, or at least grasped your vision, you should consider asking for a second opinion or, more specifically, another expert's opinion. Since a feedback session between spouses is a given, an outside view is well worth your time as a way to refresh perspectives and find areas of opportunity neither of you noticed beforehand. From building periods, sub-optimal materials, price ranges, and the overall style of the project, whatever you may think of, you can, and should, double-check.
With that done, it's all a matter of buying materials and checking boxes. Of course, the bigger the project, the larger the checklist and time allotted, so consider that before putting things into motion and double-check dates and job meetings. Other than that, you're pretty much good to go.