Show Notes

Today’s episode we chat about what makes the backyard fun for kids!

What does a kid love about the backyard?

Creating rooms

  • Ambience
  • Escape
  • Imagination

Backyard fun: Creating space your kids want

  • A space to call their own
  • Outdoor playhouse
  • Makes a fun space for imagination
  • Able to get dirty
  • Able to be independent

Outdoor activities for kids – Space for kids to get creative

  • Incorporate multiple elements for interaction
  • Tactile elements
    • Moving
    • Changing
    • Building
    • Climbing
    • Swinging
  • Hiding spaces
  • Water
  • Sand/mud
  • Imaginative elements
    • Pirate ship
    • Fort
    • Castle
    • Animal
    • Cave

Backyard playground ideas

  • Outdoor kitchen
  • Tree house
  • Fort or teepee
  • Outdoor store
  • Sandbox, gravel pile, dirt pile
  • Building supplies
  • Hammock
  • Slack line/ tightrope
  • Edibles garden
  • Construction area
  • Mini town for cars
  • Topography
  • Mini splash pad
  • Large toy storage area
  • Kid friendly tools
  • Scavenger items

Themed gardens

  • Edibles garden
  • Painted rock garden
  • Fairy/gnome/elf garden
  • Flower garden
  • Dinosaur/prehistoric garden
  • Tropical garden

Sloped backyard ideas

  • Slide
  • Water feature
  • Steps
  • Climbing rocks/logs
  • fort

Natural playgrounds

  • Elements
    • Water
    • Natural vegetation
    • Creatures/critters
    • Sand/mud
    • Natural sitting, standing, climbing, hiding
    • Components that can be changed, built, modified
  • Water wall
  • Outdoor kitchen
  • Climbing logs
  • Water pump station
  • Outdoor music
  • Secret areas
  • Attract critters
    • Birdhouse
    • Bird feeder
    • Critter logs
    • Bat house
    • Pollinator garden
  • Critter ID resources
  • Nature journal contests

Safe Backyard

  • Sharp objects
  • Corners
  • Deep water
  • Slippery surfaces
  • Toxic plants
  • Chemical use
  • Railings

Embrace your inner child and get creative!

Check out all of the resources in the show notes!

Specific ideas and recommendations:

Links for today’s episode:

this is the easy living yards podcast

I’m your young at heart host Ben Hale

let’s jump in and learn how to have a

healthy beautiful yard with less work so

you can enjoy more time doing what you

love what’s up and welcome to episode 27

of the easy living yards podcast today

we are talking about backyard ideas for

kids and outdoor activities for kids

let’s face it when it comes to having

our family in our landscape and in our

home and having a happy space the

backyard and just the yard in general is

so important for children to be able to

get outside to get off some energy out

of their system and – I guess blow off

some steam sometimes and just to have

some fun imaginative play sometimes it’s

very important for development and for

also parental breaks is also very

important too

and and so this topic is is something

that I really enjoy talking about I

aspire to improve our landscape for our

kids so they can have a more imaginative

space and to have a more exciting and

developmental experience that helps

educate them helps develop their senses

and their creativity and and so that’s

what I hope we can talk about today is

just how do we make our outdoor spaces

conducive to a good childhood and a

space that our kids can enjoy and

develop better and and also at the same

time be safe and and have fun and be

engaged enough to where we can at some

point kind of let them be themselves

outside and we can have a break as well

as parents to be able to work on the

house or to to do the dishes or whatever

without having to be attending to our

kids so much

or having to set them in front of the TV

so this is a really important topic

and a very fun topic at the same time so

today I hope we can talk about a lot of

ideas that can help you think about

what’s the best thing for your landscape

to do to make it fun for your kids okay

now before we get into all of that I

want to make an announcement that I am

very excited about and that is that I

have a short domain name instead of

having to type in easy living yards calm

every time you go to visit easy living

yards website you can also go type in e

ly dot how that’s e ly dot h o W and

that will take you to the easy living

yards website as well so instead of

typing the full domain name easy living

yards calm which still works and works

just fine you can now also visit so if

you’re on your mobile

of course I prefer that you stop driving

first right if you’re driving but if you

ever want to visit easy living yards or

anything on the easy living yards

website such as the podcast page or the

blog or anything for that matter you can

just type in e ly Dow and that will take

you to the easy living yards website so

for any episode as well you can just

type in e ly dot h o w / episode and

then the number so for this episode

episode 27 all you have to do is type in

e ly Dow slash episode two seven and

that’ll take you right to this episode

page where you can visit all the show

notes get all the links that we talked

about today

and guys I am dropping tons of links in

the show notes today because I’m super

jazzed about this topic I’m super

inspired to to make our landscape better

for our kids and I hope you guys are

inspired to do the same so I have tons

of blogs that I found where where tons

of bloggers are just writing about all

sorts of cool stuff you can do with your

backyard to make it better for your kids

and so I want to share all that all

those great resources I found with you

and so certainly today after we talk

about some of this cool stuff make sure

you go on over to the show notes at yo y

Dow slash episode 2/7 and there you’ll

see all the links we

talk about today for all the different

topics so I have tons of links where you

can be inspired and see all sorts of

different great ideas that people are

putting out there on the virtual

internet space for all of us to enjoy

okay so with that let’s get back on

topic a little bit and talk about what

makes the backyard fun for kids so with

today’s episode I’m not gonna be talking

about a bunch of you know technical

stuff or specific plants or specific

design ways to do things or how to start

a garden bed or anything like that you

know we’ve gotten pretty technical or

pretty in depth with some stuff or

pretty how-to oriented and today instead

it’s an idea episode so we’re talking

about a bunch of different ways a bunch

of different ideas of things we can do

with our backyards or even your front

yard or your side yard we’re not limited

to the backyard here that’s just

typically the space that becomes the

kids space but today is intended just to

spark some creativity in all of our

brains to help us thinking about some

cool ways to have a unique and an

awesome experience for our kids in our

backyards and at the same time I want us

to also try and step in the shoes of our

children so let’s try and start looking

at our space from the eyes of our kids

and and from the feet of our kids right

feel and run through our space with with

our kids feet I guess is a better better

analogy but when we start thinking about

in perceiving our space from the eyes of

our children the space becomes entirely

different because it’s not a practical

space it’s not somewhere where we have

to cut the grass it’s not somewhere we

have to pull weeds instead it’s a it’s

the setting for all of our adventures

outside and it’s the setting for

imaginative play and it’s the space

where we can go out and escape or be

free and so this is what a kid aspires

to do in a natural setting is to be free

to to be able to play to be able to

imagine and and so we want to create

the best space for them to be able to do

that in a way that’s safe for them in a

way that’s fun and exciting in a way

that makes them want to go outside right

and in a way that we feel comfortable

with having our kids there so that’s

what we’re trying to achieve today so

when it comes to creating a great space

for our kids the first thing I think

about is creating rooms outdoor rooms

and this isn’t like a physical like

walls and ceilings or anything this is

really about creating unique spaces or

individualized spaces so making sure we

can create a space where the kid feels

like this is my space or this is our

space right so the kids feel like that

is a space designated for them and they

can make it their own and create it

their own way as well

and so in the process of creating

outdoor rooms essentially what you’re

doing is you’re creating an ambience or

an escape place or a place that sparks

the imagination and so when I’m talking

about an outdoor room I talked about

this previously in the backyards episode

a few episodes back and and basically

what we’re doing here is we’re kind of

just framing a space usually with

plantings or with hard scape but it

creates some sort of mental barrier but

not necessarily a physical barrier but

there’s like a kind of a mental or a

psychological shift when you go into

this new space where you know you’re in

a different space so a lot of times the

the play gym is kind of in the back

corner of the yard and you know it’s

just this giant wooden thing that you

get from Home Depot or wherever and you

know you put it together and it maybe it

has like a little awning on top that’s

colorful and couple swings and maybe a

slide right and it’s just kind of

plopped right in the middle of the

backyard or you know in the back corner

of the backyard and instead what we can

do is we can create a space that the

kids can go to and they feel like this

is a space for me and that’s kind of

what I’m talking about and of course I’m

being very abstract here because each

space each way you create a space is

different it could be framed by a few

trees or shrubs or it could just be you

know a general transition of the

topography even that that creates this

different space and how that space is

created is different based on the

different purposes of your kids or your

child’s play space okay so I again I’m

leaving this very abstract and

deliberately so because this is

something that you define for you and

your family and how it works best in

your landscape so I got kind of for lack

of a better term I got kind of Spacey

there right now let’s kind of drill down

and start talking about some more

practical stuff or some more tangible

things about our kids

okay so when it comes to backyard fun

and creating a space your kids want we

really have to focus on understanding

what do kids want out of an outdoor

space right what makes a kid want to go

outside as opposed to sit in front of

the TV or instead of playing video games

right or instead of doing whatever else

they do inside instead of complaining

and nagging at you right we want our

kids to be excited to be outside and so

let’s think about the ways or the

elements that make a kid want to go

outside into a new space or into their

space and what makes them want to stay

out there and continue playing and have

an immersion into their own world and to

develop into experience and to have

adventure okay

so first the first thing that comes to

mind for me is to have a space that

children can call their own and this

goes back to what I just talked about

with creating rooms it’s creating a

specific area or a specific space that

is is deliberately set aside for your

children so aside from just a physical

space of course what’s there can can

really dictate that as well so if we

kind of talked about your typical play

set or your play Jim right that’s a

that’s the first step or it could be an

outdoor play house but whatever it is

this is something that makes a fun space

for imagination and for

it could be something that allows your

kids the flexibility and the

availability to get dirty and I know

most of us parents kind of cringe at

that and we’re like ah we gotta throw

them in the shower in the tub or they’re

gonna track mud all through the house or

whatever well that could be the case

actually but again thinking from the

perspective of your child or your

children is what really sparks their

imagination and what really triggers

them to have fun and if if it’s a

trade-off of allowing them to get

somewhat dirty or to make a bit of a

mess what’s a healthy way for them to be

able to do that and what’s a healthy

space for them to be able to do that as

well in a way that they enjoy and then a

way that doesn’t conflict with our our

home I guess you know doesn’t destroy

our house doesn’t create a giant mess

where they’re gonna just you know ruin

all their clothes or anything but but

something that they can actually you

know get a little destructive or get a

little creative and get dirty in the

same time it can be very very beneficial

for your child and also something this

space that we’re creating could also be

something that allows your child to be

able to be independent or to be on their

own or to at least have the feeling that

they’re on their own you know you might

be able to supervise them the whole time

from you know a slight distance but it’s

something where they’re safe enough and

they’re able to play independently

enough that they feel like they’re on

their own and that’s really important ok

this is also a space where your kids can

get creative and so for that we want to

incorporate multiple elements for

interaction and these are I can’t think

of a better word here that’s not too

nerdy but tactile elements so things

they can touch and they sensory elements

I guess maybe is another less nerdy term

but something they can feel touch see

smell hear all those things that trigger

the senses and also trigger the

creativity or the mind at the same time

are very important so these are things

that allow moving parts they can be

things that can be always

changing or that they can change

themselves things that allow them to

build stuff things for climbing and

thanks for swinging right so your

typical place that you think about some

of these elements are already

incorporated well how can we even

incorporate that more into a space

things that allow for hiding spaces the

use of water either visually or or

physically the use of sand or mud again

this is more of a physical thing to be

allowed to allow children to have

something to touch to mold to feel and

to create and shape is very important

and also more imaginative elements so

these could be more deliberate things

like like you think of you may have seen

you know some pictures of like a pirate

ship playground or a fort a castle an

animal shaped structure or a cave so all

of these things allow incorporate a lot

of these elements and also give the

creation of a space that’s for your

children and I talked also about like an

outdoor room or house a playhouse and

and that’s also another way to do this

okay so so that’s kind of like some of

the again a little bit of you know more

abstract stuff about the concept of what

we want to create here and now I want to

drill down even further into talking

about specific things that you can have

in your space that can create some of

this stuff or enable some of this stuff

to happen for your kids so to make them

feel more creative to allow for some

imagination to happen allow for open

play allow for the ability to get some

energy out and to allow for also you to

feel safe about them at their space so

okay so I’m just gonna kind of run

through a bunch of these ideas that kind

of popped in my head and these certainly

aren’t limiting but I hope they again

they spark some creativity for you and

what feels right with your children or

your child and in this space you’re

creating for them and what would add the

most appeal over the longest time frame

as well right so

we want to think about okay how does our

space last you know maybe five years

from now maybe ten years from now when

our kids are growing how does this space

either evolve along with them or how

does it last to the point where it’s

still interesting for them as well okay

so here’s just a few backyard playground

ideas that can inspire you to go out and

think about what you want to do with

your space so first an outdoor kitchen

so our kids love having a space inside

right now where they can kind of like

concoct their little creations and

pretend that they’re cooking and and

making all sorts of different wildly odd

meals and so an outdoor kitchen

incorporates all those natural elements

outside as well that they can use as

their so-called ingredients to concoct

wonderful creations as well and it

really sparks the imagination what about

a treehouse this is a very conventional

or not necessarily conventional but very

common I guess thought about outdoor

play spaces and and what kid doesn’t

love the idea of having a fort elevated

up into a tree so if that’s something

that’s safe enough for your family you

know and you have the resources such as

a tree to be able to build something

like this is something it’s quite a

project but it might create such a

wonderful space for your child it may be

worth it likewise if you don’t have the

availability of verticality or you just

don’t feel comfortable with that you

could also consider something like a

fort or a teepee that you can build

outside it could be even if it’s

something like a teepee or a tent it

could be a semi-permanent structure that

you can remove or change or adjust or or

move around the yard as well to create

that space for them likewise something

like an outdoor store where they have

supplies that they can play with and

store away and pretend that they’re

selling stuff my boys actually love

imagining that the underneath are very

conventional play gym out back right now

that it’s a store with a little

countertop and they always ask you know

what what can i buy for you and then

they go and turn around and make some

noises and grab it

off the shelf and that sort of thing and

they love doing checkout and so

something as simple as just even like an

enclosed space under a platform right

now serves as their outdoor store so

what if we actually had something where

we had like even just a simple

countertop that they could use as their

store checkout area and a few shelves

something as simple as that could

drastically change their experience and

increase their ability to have

imaginative fun outside next something

like a sandbox a gravel pile or even a

dirt pile can go a long way to allowing

just fun play for your kids and of

course if you’re willing to allow a

certain level of dirtiness adding

something where they can incorporate

water with these elements is a lot of

fun for children and yes it does create

a bit of a mess but it also creates a

space for them to have a lot of fun and

and occupy themselves for a pretty

extended period of time

well while engaging their mind and their

senses as well so it’s very helpful

developmentally it’s also very helpful

parentally as you’re able to do other

things while they’re having safe happy

fun and so right now we actually and we

don’t have a sandbox in our landscape

but we do have a gravel pile and dirt

pile and the boys love both those things

they’re they’re more byproducts of some

of the construction that’s gone on

around our house as we’ve slowly been

able to modify and update our landscape

as opposed to deliberate things for the

kids but they’ve turned out to be very

wonderful things for them to be able to

play and to escape into a different

world and to create their own world

through these simple spaces likewise

having some safe building supplies for

them to be able to use to construct

whatever they want whatever creations

they want can actually be very helpful

so this can be something as simple as

little blocks of wood to things that

might be more complex or things that you

might be able to like acquire several

you know foam bricks and things like

that they can just build and and be able

to do something with and to use their

creativity to create their own spaces

something like a hammock

is very simple but also very fun for

children so they can swing in it they

can lay in it and relax my boys love it

when I have a camping hammock and when I

string it up they love to play in it

they’ll go lay in it for a few seconds

and they’ll go run do something else

they’ll come right back and lay in it

for a little bit longer

they love to wrap themselves up like

it’s a cocoon so they do all sorts of

things like again these things that

appear so simple and kind of boring to

an adult allows so much creativity for a

child as long as we have it available to

them it’s also something like a

slackline or tight rope if you’re not

familiar with what a slackline is you

can go look it up and basically it’s

it’s something that where the you it

helps with their balance and their

development of coordination as well and

so again this is something you would

want to rig up in a safe manner but

about having something like a slackline

or a tight rope that kids can walk

across or try and balance on and that

sort of thing can be very fun and

engaging as well what about an edibles

garden so a garden that they can go into

and pick produce as they as they want to

knowing that it’s safe for them and

that’s available to them so it’s more of

a as opposed to a food production garden

this is more of a child garden where

they can go in they can see their plants

growing they can once they learn how to

do it they can pick weeds that sort of

thing they can water it and take care of

their own plants and see that the

outcome of it so right now we have the

the makings of a garden it’s not very

productive right now but our boys love

going into the garden because I’ve let

them help plant the garden and I’ve let

them help select what goes into our

garden and they love going in there

right now our cherry tomato plants are

just starting to ripen and they love

going in there to each day to see if any

new cherry tomatoes are ripe and they

don’t even make it inside the house they

go right into their mouths and they love

picking the cherry tomatoes and right

now this year it’s the first time we’ve

planted anything like a watermelon

plant and they have some baby

watermelons on them and they’re so

excited to see those baby watermelons

and and so just incorporating some

edible garden elements into a landscape

can be very fun and exciting for a kid

now the important thing here too is just

to know that they have to know what they

can and cannot put in their mouth so I

just mentioned tomatoes the leaves of

tomatoes and potato plants are actually

toxic and so we have to coach even our

two-year-old understands you only pick

the red tomatoes and if it’s the red

tomatoes you’re allowed to put them in

your mouth everything else you don’t put

in your mouth and so even at a young age

they’re learning what’s safe and what’s

not safe and in a way that we feel

comfortable allowing them to wander into

the garden themselves to pick things

okay what about something like a

construction area right so something

that has shovels and trucks and all

sorts of things that can allow for

digging and building and imaginative

play and this is not just for boys too

so allowing children of all gender to be

able to have stuff that they can they

can actually work in a space and and

build something and imagine something

build roads or houses or Hills or

whatever and and so a construction area

could be very fun likewise what about a

mini town like so something with roads

and tunnels and and this could be either

semi-permanent or permanent or a

temporary thing so when I was growing up

we had a sandbox a pretty sizable

sandbox and that was our our mini town

because we were always digging in it

creating roads and making tunnels in the

sand and that sort of thing and so it

could be something temporary or it could

be something more permanent where it has

actually you make roads and you plant

grass in between and and have little

structures for houses and buildings and

that sort of thing so again something

that can bring the child into the space

and be very excited to kind of immerse

themselves into this space okay

now what about this is more general but

what about varied topography okay so


it requires you just to rent a bobcat

for a weekend or something or to have

somebody come in and design a space for

you something with you know varied

topography so hills and valleys and and

whatever it may be tunnels going through

it but kids love having the ability to

climb and to kind of roll down spaces

and just to have something beyond just a

typical flat yard and so think about how

maybe topography could be integrated

into your space what about a mini splash

pad so instead of your typical patio

what if you create a splash pad for your

kids where they can have fun you can

turn on the water allow them to to play

in the water so it’s a more permanent

sprinkler system that’s a lot more fun

so if you think about like a public

splash pad what could you create maybe

as a private space for you and your

family to be fun and exciting into to

cool off on those hot summer days and

something that maybe is just also very

visually interesting for your landscape

beyond just for your kids and there are

a lot of private private resources to

create these splash pads as well so

these aren’t just a commercial thing but

you can also create them for your yard

and if you want to do that you can have

somebody do that professionally for you

as well what about a just a a giant toy

storage area so for all the outdoor toys

to make them easily accessible for your

kids so they can kind of you know browse

around pick out what they want when they

want it and then bring it back and they

know where it goes when you’re they’re

finished with it so they know to bring

it back and to put it away and and and

this allows them access to a space so

again very independently play to access

what they want when they want it and to

be able to play independently from your


okay what about kid-friendly tools and

so this could be anything from hardware

type tools to outdoor landscaping tools

so my kids they have access to most of

our shed tools and they’re allowed to

play with a lot of them of course there

they’re not that not out there chopping

wood with axes or anything because our


right now is five years old but they

have access to shovels they have access

to rakes and all sorts of different

little various tools that create you

know a feeling of being able to

construct something on their own or to

be able to dig in and to just interact

with the space and so the dirt pile I

mentioned earlier is the victim of a lot

of their excavation with our eldest is

able to go there with a mattock actually

so it has a little it’s kind of like a

pickaxe I guess in a way and as long as

he’s careful that nobody else is around

he’s able to chop and to dig and it

gives him an ability to be very physical

with that space in a way that’s safe and

healthy for him and likewise our kids

love to dig and to kind of build little

piles of dirt with their shovels and to

break apart the hard dirt with the

mattock and so they really love the

space and then of course rake piles of

stuff up together with a rake or a hoe

and so having access to those outdoor

tools is is very engaging for them and

likewise also just hardware tools that

are safe for them so they actually have

a little tiny hammer even our

two-year-old is able to we have a block

of wood that’s in our shed kind of

fastened to the floor and just has some

little nails sticking out of it that are

started for him to be able to nail in

himself and it’s in a space where it’s

out of the way from traffic and it’s not

a trip hazard and it allows for a lot of

fun play for the kids to be able to to

try one activity and then run to another

activity and and do that for a little

bit and come back and so it gives them

the ability to just get out a lot of

that energy in a way that’s very helpful

and and develops very good motor skills

and and allows them to imagine at the

same time okay so the last piece I have

here is what about something like

scavenger items so right now our this is

probably something I will incorporate

into our landscape that I haven’t done

so yet and this is something just very

simple so right now inside the house our

eldest son he recently got this new pair

of shoes and on the shoe box it had this

interactive little game had a bunch of

these little items you cut out

and and it was teaching about Native

American Indian folklore and and how

Native American Indians used to live and

that sort of thing and so you could cut

out the top of the lid and it turned

into a headdress and there’s a little

arrow we cut out and that sort of thing

so he really loved the activity and

there were these different items that he

was able to cut out with our help and

and what we decided to do is kind of

hide them in various locations around

the house and he loves going to find

them to figure out where they are and it

occupies them so much where it’s very

helpful for us but he’s also very

engaged and very happy in the process

and so incorporating that outdoors where

you have a few items maybe it’s some

painted rocks maybe it’s some garden

gnomes or some fairies that you can can

hide and kind of move around outside and

even let them do the same so kind of

like the Elf on the Shelf right that if

you’ve ever heard of that for

Christmastime well something similar

where you can hide these various objects

around your yard and allow them to find

them throughout time and to be able to

hide them themselves once they find them

or you just kind of variously move them

from time to time as well it could be

very fun for them so it’s a very easy

thing to do that creates a lot of

mystery and excitement for your your

yard in general and to really engage

your kids and to bring them into the

yard to interact with it as well okay so

now I have a few ideas of different

garden themes so if you want to actually

want to create like a planted garden for

your children what are some of those

themes that you could incorporate to

make it more exciting for your children

so instead of just maybe being like a

general you know pretty planting bed how

do you make it something that kids enjoy

so I have a few ideas here one I already

mentioned that’s an edibles garden

so creating a garden that’s safe and

healthy for your kids where they can see

food actually growing and how it how it

turns from just a plant into a food can

be very exciting for kids and it can

also make them want to eat their

vegetables a lot more so our kids love

getting stuff out of the garden and that

can be something very exciting if they

have their own very little guard

that’s just for them what about a

painted rock garden so something that

they can help create and this could be

rocks that are collected in various

locations and you can you can paint them

to you know put little critters or

creatures on them or they can just be

painted various colors to be exciting

and different for kids and something

that they can kind of change and and

interact with and move the rocks around

the garden or that sort of thing can

also be very fun what about a fairy

garden or a gnome or elf garden so this

is basically like a miniature garden

I’ll have links so again guys I have

tons and tons of links so a lot of these

things I’ve talked about actually have a

link where I found some sort of resource

so definitely check out the show notes

especially if any of these ideas

interest you and and so I found some

really cool resources actually for

creating fairy gardens and and just from

the pictures you can tell that kids just

absolutely love this so basically what

it is is you create this like little

miniature garden either in somewhere in

your landscape or somewhere in an

established garden or just in a pot and

basically it’s a miniature garden where

it looks like like just a mini

everything so you use kind of like some

moss for grass and you have like a

little mini stream maybe or bridges and

a little mini house and so some of them

it’s like a space where where fairies or

gnomes or elves can come to play at

night and so you don’t even have like an

elf or anything and others they actually

have little you know figurines that they

put in in their garden and and so it

creates this idea of mystery and fun and

kind of a little bit of fantasy right

for for your children and to creating a

space for this little mini creature

that’s kind of like a mysterious of fun

creature so anyway apparently kids love

this stuff it sounds kind of fun so

that’s a cool idea and also the next

idea is what about just a flower garden

for your kids so right now my boys they

love picking flowers for their mom and

for various people in our family and

friends and that sort of thing and and

so just having access to safe again safe

flowers for your kids

can be a lot of fun for them

than they they can feel comfortable

going out there and just you know

picking flowers or smelling the flowers

seeing insects on the flowers can be

something very fun and exciting for the

kids what about something like a

prehistoric garden or a dinosaur garden

so this could be something where there’s

maybe you hide like some little fossils

in there and stuff in something that

they can have their dinosaurs to play

and again this is traditionally thought

of moves like a boy activity but again

this is none of these things like an

outdoor kitchen that’s not necessarily

just a girl activity this is something

that kids of all different backgrounds

love okay and and same goes for like a

dinosaur guard so it’s something again

that they can imagine they’re in a

different time in a different world and

that’s what it’s about not necessarily

what gender you are or or what you know

cultural norms are existing okay so so

with a dinosaur garden you can actually

use plants that that kind of create this

feel so something like you can use a

couple like more ferns and and and kind

of like broad-leaved large broadleaf

plants to kind of give it like almost

like a prehistoric feel okay and that’s

kind of a good segue into the next idea

I have which is what about like a

tropical garden okay if if you live in

the subtropics this is pretty easy right

but maybe in the more northern climates

you can select different plants again

like ferns and even like banana trees

can grow just as like an herbaceous

plant so basically they die back to the

ground each winter in some of the

northern climates but even up as far as

southern Ohio you can grow banana trees

that grows as a plant instead of a tree

and it can have these giant huge leaves

and it gives this very tropical feel and

you can also use a lot of plants from

around this climate in southern Ohio to

give a similar feel so selecting the

right plants to give that feel can also

just kind of give that feeling of escape

for a child or or a different world and

and that can be very exciting okay so

now what about a sloped backyard

so here’s a few sloped backyard ideas

that I have that you can consider for

your landscape so maybe you have like

it’s just a big hill in part of your

yard that feels like you can’t really

use it or you don’t have enough space

for your kids well there’s stuff you can

do here as well if you are willing to

get a little creative and so you can

include a sloped backyard is awesome of

course for a slide right so you don’t

need to actually have like a play gym

with a platform you can just have a

slide right on your back out of your

backyard and so that’s something really

fun for kids actually to have like a

slide kind of embedded in the ground

they can go down and these can actually

be like custom made out of concrete to

kind of twist and wined or they can be

slides that you just fix into your

landscape that are pre-built already so

something to consider there what about a

water feature so instead of you know a

typical fountain what about like a

running stream that goes down your yard

and then you have a little pump that

just pumps the water right back to the

top it can be very exciting for kids to

be able to float stuff down the stream

or to see it just kind of trickle down

and to also be able to hear it to dip

their toes in that sort of thing so it’s

a very sensory experience and a very

interactive experience for children as

well so that can be very fun and


of course steps integrating steps but in

a fun way that kind of adds to the

feeling of adventure or a feeling of

mystery if they’re kind of winding steps

or just you know very different steps

can just be fun for kids to be able to

climb up slide down the slide come back

up the hill and similarly what about

some climbing rocks or logs up the hill

so instead of just having steps what

about a space where kids can kind of

scramble up some rocks or logs or a net

a suspended net something like that that

allows the kids to be able to interact

with that hillside in a very creative

way and last what about a fort that’s

kind of built onto the hillside or into

the hillside it can be very fun as well

and so just some ideas there that I came

up with for sloped backyards because I

know it can be hard to come up with some

sloped backyard ideas and to be able to

have fun with that space in your yard

alright guys I just had to stop and

pause for a second to just catch my

breath because if you can’t tell like

I’m super excited about this stuff and I

hope you are too and I’ve got a ton of

content here as well I’m almost done


but stay with me and let’s get into the

next piece I have just a little bit more

to cover here but really awesome stuff

so if you can’t tell already I kind of

have this awesome attraction to natural

playgrounds so what is a natural

playground I just want to spend a little

bit of time talking about it and I’m

definitely considering I’ve done tons of

research on this I’m definitely

considering this for our backyard as we

look to start redesigning our yard our

landscape both front and back and I want

to create a more conducive space for our

kids and the idea of natural playgrounds

is really exciting to me so what is a

natural playground well basically it’s a

playground that has a lot of different

elements involved in it and it’s not

just your conventional you know ladder

platform slide swing while those can be

very fun they’re not necessarily always

that engaging for children so they might

go there play for a little bit and then

they’re kind of done well the idea of a

natural playground is to give them more

imaginative experiences that are more

immersive and also very fun for them at

the same time so some elements included

here are like hot water natural

vegetation different creatures or

critters sand or mud natural sitting

standing climbing and hiding spaces and

also components that can be changed

built or modified by the children as

they play so some of this stuff to me

sounds really really cool and just

really really interactive and to be

honest if we build this I might be out

there playing in it too so some of the

ideas here that you can incorporate into

a so-called natural playground are

things like a water wall so a vertical

structure that has different you know

tubes and funnels and things that kids

can play around with and pour water or

into it and see how it interacts with

the space what about an outdoor kitchen

which I already mentioned something they

can just use kind of natural materials

like bark and mud and

sure whatever and kind of concoct their

own little you know fancy dishes of

different things some climbing lungs so

various just logs and structures that

they can climb and jump over or sit on

lay on hide behind that sort of thing

what about a water pump station so maybe

you can have like a little water

reservoir and they can pump water out

like you see it like our local

children’s museum has something like

this where it’s a big interactive space

with these pumps where the kids can pump

up water and play with it so you can

incorporate something like this into

your landscape as well outdoor musical

instruments so various things where they

can hit them or move them to make noise

these don’t have to be incredibly

elaborate but they can be a lot of fun

for children just for making noise

various creative ways what about some

secret areas so areas that they can hide

behind to have their own little fort

area or something or their own little

like secret space that they could crawl

into and to imagine different things and

what about things that can attract

critters so something like birdhouses

bird feeders critter logs so logs that

allow different creatures to live

underneath and that sort of thing what

about a bat house or a pollinator garden

so bat houses can actually provide a

nesting structure of her bats or just

roosting structure over night and that’s

or over over the daytime and that sort

of thing so it’s something really fun if

you have bat houses first of all you’re

the coolest parent in the neighborhood

right and secondly your kids can sit up

there in the evening and see the bats

emerge and start catching all the

insects in your yard as you know

catching all those mosquitoes right

those pesky mosquitoes that start to

come out at the same time so that can be

a lot of fun and also a huge benefit

naturally and likewise what about a

pollinator garden so we talked about a

flower garden and edibles garden well

what if your flower garden incorporates

a lot of pollinator plants that can

bring out a lot of pollinators all sorts

of bees and and flies and and different

just all sorts of different bugs that

the kids can watch and tin

kind of see them buzzing around and

feeding on the plants and having great

time can be a lot of fun and excitement

for a kid and the last thing I have here

is what about things like resources to

identify different critters so this

could be bird books for geared for kids

or insect books geared for kids or just

animal books geared for kids things that

you see around your yard or that you’re

starting to attract to your yard things

that where your kids can find these and

identify them with maybe with your help

a little bit but providing the resources

for them to do so likewise what about

nature journal contests that you could

have between your kids where who gets to

see the most critters in their yard at

different types of critters in their

yard can really add some engagement to

their space and also in a way that

provides some friendly competition with

your kids to have some fun together and

to learn new things okay so that’s the

bit I have about natural playgrounds I

might talk about it in the future again

just because this area is so cool and so

exciting and you you’re starting to see

tons I don’t know if in your area maybe

this is the case as well but there’s a

lot of natural playgrounds that are

popping up in municipal areas because

it’s being understood how fun

imaginative and also developmentally

beneficial they are for children okay

and with that I want to talk about

safety as well which is very important

so with whatever you do in your yard we

want to make sure it’s a safe place for

our kids and this kind of you know in

some way it goes without saying but

sometimes we don’t realize something you

might be unsafe for our kids so I just

want to cover this a little bit and make

sure we’re really thinking about safety

as we’re developing a space for our kids

and so the first thing of course is

eliminating or reducing the amount of

sharp objects or corners especially

around their play spaces can go a long

way to preventing cuts and abrasions and

that sort of thing likewise reducing the

amount of deep water they have access to

so I mentioned water features quite a

bit well we want to make sure it’s not

deep water that can be a hazard to

children and so this includes pools of

course so we want to make sure holes are

fenced or if our neighbors have pools

that their pools are fenced or in the

very least we provide a fence barrier on

our own property in between our property

and our neighbor’s exposed pool or pond

we also want to reduce the number of

slippery surfaces this isn’t just after

raining or during rain but also in the

mornings things can be covered with Dew

or if things get a little dusty they can

become slippery so making sure we reduce

slippery surfaces except for of course

slides we want does to be slippery

because they’re way more fun that way we

actually used to my family’s slide in

our backyard we had this awesome play

gym that my family built and actually

this is a this is a very worthy Segway

or side track so I’m gonna keep going is

we actually got to help build our own

play gym and my dad planned this amazing

play gym that we built in our backyard

out of a bunch of treated lumber and

it’s still standing in my parents

backyard it’s in the right now their

grandkids love it so my kids and my

their cousins as well really enjoy this

play gym but the slide was this big

sheet metal slide and we would every one

someone would start to get a little

sticky so we’d go back there with some

some wax paper and ride down the slide

on wax paper to to wax up the slide

again and it was quite fun because you’d

like zip down the slide superfast anyway

um so we want to avoid slippery surfaces

in our our playgrounds for our kids of

course also avoiding toxic plants a lot

of times these are plants you’re not

even aware of so you might not

necessarily be able to eliminate toxic

plants from the landscape but at least

making sure your kids understand and

kids can understand this at an early age

too that if it’s not a plant that they

know is safe that they don’t put it in

their mouth so things like I mentioned

like potatoes and tomatoes the foliage

of those plants is toxic

likewise you bushes so those those

popular square bushes that people have

in their front yard those seeds and the

leaves are how

toxic as well likewise things like

milkweed is toxic so there’s tons of

plants that are toxic and so making sure

your kids either understand that this

plant is unsafe or you understand that

or eliminating those plants from your

landscape as much as possible

or as an alternative making sure your

kids only know to put in their mouth

what they know is safe

okay so just being careful about toxic

plants in general likewise

chemical use so reducing the use of

chemicals is very important to me

especially around our kids a lot of

these chemicals while they may be

marketed as safe a lot of them are

endocrine disruptors or things that can

just disrupt or be unsafe for you.your

and especially your kids or your pets so

kids are much more susceptible to

chemical exposure effects than adults

just with their their size their growth

and that sort of thing so making sure

you reduce the use of chemicals around

the spaces your kids are in is very

important and the last thing I want to

point out here too especially if you

have higher elevated spaces that you

have appropriate railings or barriers to

prevent Falls okay

so safety important stuff make sure you

do it and with that guys I just want to

say let’s just as we wrap up this

episode let’s consider embracing our

inner child and really get creative

right so the more creative you can get

with designing the space or thinking

about ideas for your space with your

kids the more fun your kids are gonna

have because what you’re doing is you’re

immersing yourself back into your

childhood and thinking about what are

the things that made me have so much fun

or where I had more fun with my yard or

what what did I want what would it make

it exciting for me

what were your favorite spaces to go

visit when you were a kid what were your

favorite spaces to go play when you were

a kid and those things can go a long way

to helping you design a fun space for

your kids okay so with that check out

all of the resources I’ve listed in the

show notes today there’s a ton of

resources and likewise you can go on

over to my house slash episode to 7

episode 27 to find all these show notes

as well

now if you want any specific ideas or

recommendations for your particular yard

and your family and and thinking of what

specifically it would be most fun for

your kids and how you can incorporate it

in your landscape this is where I can

come in and help you specifically with

my consultation so I offer digital

consultation you can go over to e ly dot

how that’s yo Y dot h o w / consulting

and that will take you to my

consultation page where you can get in

touch with me and we can make your yard

better and have a lot more fun with your

kids in your landscape and guys I’m

doing this because I really care I want

to make sure we save time in our yards

we make it a better space for our family

and that’s what this episode is all

about is spending more time doing what

we love and let’s face it we want to

spend more time with our family and to

have a better space for our family as

well so if you guys want some help

check out my consultation options at ily

how slash consulting and likewise feel

free to also get in touch with people in

your area there’s a ton of landscape

designers that can help you design your

space and there’s a lot more people that

are growing experience in developing

natural Pralay grounds or well-designed

playground spaces for your children that

can really in enhance your landscape and

also enhance the fun and imagine it to

play your children are able to have then

right now you know it’s so common we

want to get our kids away from the TV or

away from their their devices and to get

outside more and that’s really important

that we create a conducive space for

them to do so otherwise it’s not a fun

it’s not a creative experience and we

want to create fun and we want to create

a good experience where they can develop

themselves physically and mentally and

creatively and that’s what today’s

episode is all about so with that guys

make sure you check out the links in the

show notes also if you want to ever

check out the website you can just go to

e ly Dow and with that thanks for tuning

in and make sure you live with passion

and make tomorrow better than today