15 Genius Ideas to Make Your Backyard More Kid-Friendly
Who doesn’t love the good ol’ outdoors?
I used to play in the yard, shoeless, from sun up til sun down when I was a little kid. My mother could barely get me indoors.
But, today, kids have so many other options; from computers, to video games, and cell phone apps, playing outdoors to them is almost a boring “task.”
So help your kiddos love being outside just as much as you did when you were young by amping up your backyard.
Read on to learn 15 ways your yard will not just be fun for your kids, but the envy of the entire neighborhood!
1) Water Balloon Targets
How cool would it be if you get rid of all that extra cardboard you have sitting around your house, and turn your yard into a giant target course?
Create targets of various shapes (hearts, circles, squares), sizes, and colors/point values.
Spread them out all over your yard (If they won’t stand on their own, consider attaching skewers to them) and hang them from tree branches.
Then, set your kids loose with a bucket full of water balloons! (I love this post from the Nifty Mom on water balloon games).
Encourage them to earn as many points as they can.
You can even add food dye to the water in the balloons in order to document who landed a direct shot (it’s argument-proof for siblings who will dispute whose shot was whose—the colors won’t lie!)
2) S’mores Station
There’s nothing like a toasty campfire on a warm, summer’s night—except for s’mores!
S’mores and campfires go together like peanut butter and jelly. So, why not make your kids the most popular in the neighborhood by setting up a S’more station in your backyard?
Set out a table decorated with campfire colors (black, red, gold, orange) and paraphernalia (S’more printed napkins, etc.).
Place your S’more staples out in the open for all to access (you can get fancy and use skewers, or go rustic and grab sticks). Be sure to add other tasty accompaniments besides the classic graham crackers, marshmallows, and chocolate bars.
You could add banana slices, peanut butter for dipping, sprinkles or chocolate syrup to drizzle over the sizzled creation—the options are endless—and most importantly, so fun!
Check out DC On A Whim for a lot more ideas!
3) Makeshift Construction Center
Have little ones that go ga-ga over cars, construction vehicles, and dirt?
If so, you’ll love making a construction center off to the side of your yard! I really like this idea from Parent’s Magazine, which outlines how you can make a whole lot of fun out of a whole lot of dirt, plus use the play cars and construction vehicles you already have around your house.
Simply purchase or repurpose pieces of PVC pipe that are about 3 inches in diameter and bury them in a pile of dirt that you dig up, or purposefully place on top of the tubes (which turn into tunnels).
If you plan on mulching your property this summer, you can set some aside for this sole purpose.
Cover the pile with various stones and rocks and you have one really cool (and dirty) construction center!
4) In-Ground Trampoline
I love trampolines. But what I do not love about them is how big and bulky they look sitting there in my yard (which is probably why I was never allowed to have one growing up).
While they may look unsightly, they are probably one of the most fun yard accessories to have.
Not to mention they get kids’ and teens’ hearts pumping, so they are actually more beneficial than you think in regards to keeping our kids healthy.
Put one in the ground. Literally.
Think of it like an in-ground pool. Your kids will have tons of fun, plus it won’t’ be easy to spot on your property.
The Owner Builder Network goes into detail as to how you can put one of these bad boys in your yard, right in time for summer.
Plus, if you ask me, they are much safer since they are closer to the ground!
5) Get Zippin'
Um, who wouldn’t love to have their own zip line in their yard?
According to Homesteading, you can make your own in about 10 simple steps (fully outlined with clear images).
If your kids aren’t the adventurous type, they certainly will be now!
Ziplines will get your kids climbing trees in no time just like the good old days, and they’ll be entertained for hours.
6) Host a Movie Night
Have the whole block over for family movie night—in your backyard!
Pop Sugar has a building guide that will help you set up your viewing area in no time.
You just have to choose your space (free from street lights and porch lights), set up a screen (if you are on a budget, a sheet or garage side will do), and obtain technology and power sources to project your flick (be sure to stock up on extension cords).
Ambience is also ultra-important, so invite the kids to help you shop for cushions, lanterns, blankets, and snack servers.
7) Skateboard Swings
Classic swings and slides are fun, but they can lose their novelty fast. Make sure your yard keeps the kids interested and engaged by building skateboard swings!
This is such a great rainy day project, and the blog Littlebitfunky outlines how to build one in just 20 minutes (and with minimal materials).
Grab a skateboard, a few pieces of hardware, rope, and follow the step by step directions (complete with detailed pics) on the site to get the kids swinging in no time!
8) Build a Dance Floor
Have an area of yard that is lacking grass?
Don’t throw down grass seed just yet—consider building a dance floor!
I love the floor found on Your Home Based Mom. Simply follow the directions, as she outlines supplies and steps.
Paint it in classic black and white checks, so it can double as a life sized checker or chess board!
Let the kids unleash their energy by busting some moves. Their playdates will be taken to a whole new level, and who knows?
You may just find yourself out there on the dance floor yourself, after the kids go to bed with the other adults from the neighborhood!
9) Make a Redneck Slip & Slide
Slip and slides are amazing. They can also be expensive, and many are just too short.
If you have a big hill in your yard, you’ve got to make things more fun and interesting this summer by putting together a Red Neck slip and slide!
Visit your local hardware store and ask for a huge sheet of plastic. We’re talking 10 feet by 50 feet (or longer depending on your hill size).
This size blows the traditional slip and slide away and can fit a good number of kids on it.
Simply roll out the sheet of plastic and secure the sides with planks of wood. Hook up your hose nearby and give the plastic a good soaking.
Your yard will be transformed into a summer water park (with Redneck undertones!) in no time.
For more detailed instructions, I really like this post from All Things Thrifty.
Want to turn your makeshift slip and slide into a competitive game?
Purchase some inflatable bowling pins, put them at the bottom of the slide, and form two teams.
Follow traditional rules of bowing, except allow your body to be the human ball-strike!
10) Magical Fairy Garden
If you’re a gardener, you understand the joy and satisfaction that comes from taking care of something that grows in your yard.
A lot of T.L.C. goes into that little garden, and while your younger children may want to help out, more times than not, they step in the wrong spots or overwater your supply!
Why not make your backyard more fun by building something of their very own that they can take care of?
Consider constructing a fairy garden.
Designate an area of land that can house a few stone fairy facilities and lots of potted plants and buttery fly nectar.
Today.com outlines how to have 9 cool fairy gardens in your yard.
And, Kid Friendly Things To Do also offers some really cool ideas when it comes to accessorizing a fairy garden that’s built, which makes for awesome rainy day activities when the kiddos can’t get outside.
They’ll love checking in on their garden and up keeping it while you tend to yours.
11) Bubble Station!
Kids of all ages love bubbles! I mean, what’s not to love?
Set up a station with only a few basic materials and your yard will be the coolest, bubbliest around.
Kitchen Fun With My 3 Sons has a really easy to follow bubble station manual that I love.
You just need to visit your local dollar store and pick up wands, a clear drink dispenser, letter stickers, and several large containers of bubble solution.
Don’t forget to set out plastic cups for your kids and their friends to dispense the solution in.
The best part about this cool backyard feature?
You don’t have to do any pouring—so, no sticky hands or mess!
12) Nighttime Volleyball Court
If you have older kids, they’ll love having their own volleyball net set up.
Not only is it a great way to get their friends together in one place, but to stay active and fit too!
Take the volleyball set up to the next level by making it fully assessable at night. All you need are some strands of LED string lights.
Nothing needs to be plugged in, and the net becomes highly visible in the dark!
13) PVC Sprinkler
As a child, I loved running around my yard, jumping in and out of the sprinkler my father set up to water the dry spots in our yard.
I wanted to do something fun in the backyard for my own kids, but I wanted to put a creative twist on a sprinkler system.
Luckily, I came across this PVC pipe sprinkler how to on Instructables.
This kid wash can be built in under an hour and with minimal parts (shouldn’t cost you more than $10 to build). The site outlines easy to see and read steps, so even the most un-savvy builder (ahem, like myself) can put it together with ease.
So, whether your kids and their friends trot through it, or your toddler drives one of their electric cars through the wash, you can count on one cool yard set up—both literally and figuratively!
14) Portable Playhouse
Kids love their own space—especially in their yard.
If you aren’t up to building a treehouse or putting all the parts together to build a super swing set, then consider browsing The Land of Nod’s portable playhouses.
Choose from a classic teepee, a Jetair Camper, a Palm Springs inspired house, or even a giant whale. Each house is easy to set up, costs a lot less than huge, wooden structures, and even take up less space.
They can be packed up with ease and taken on camping trips, or put away when you need more yard space.
Regardless of which one you choose—one thing’s for sure: they make any yard much more fun!
15) Pool Noodle Goal Post
If you have football enthusiasts in your home, you can add a goal post to your yard by using a few pool noodles!
I found the idea on The Crafty Blog Stalker (which is fully equipped with other cool pool noodle ideas), and my kids have been kicking field goals non-stop in the yard ever since!
I just stocked up on four noodles and use metal camping stake rods that I had in my camping gear bag to hold the noodles in place.
Using a super sharp knife, carve out two circular holes in smaller, connector noodles and slide the top of the goal post onto the standing noodles.
Your yard can be totally transformed this summer!
Consider the fifteen ideas above to ensure you spark your kids’ interest, creativity, increase their activity level—and you'll start to make lots of fond memories as a family from the comfort of your own backyard!