No matter how big or small your backyard is right now, it probably has the potential to be one of your family’s favorite hangout spots. You don’t have to sacrifice style or aesthetics for a family-friendly backyard, either.Here are 20 fabulous ideas to create your dream backyard for plenty of family fun. Get inspired, then get busy creating!
1. Seamless flow between house and backyard.
Kids’ lives are fairly seamless in general – they go barefoot indoors and out, they eat ice cream at 10 a.m. or 8 p.m., they wander the house as they brush their teeth. Embrace this fact by keeping the backyard seamlessly connected to the house itself.
2. Transform a tree into a seat.
If you’ve got a tree that seems to be out in the middle of everything in your backyard, consider building a beautiful, and seat-savvy, wraparound bench. Bonus: As far as having seating goes, there’s always room for one more on this type of bench!
3. Build bridges.
Most children love a bridge – something about crossing over something else is a bit thrilling, a bit magical. Build a backyard bridge and set the stage for hours of your child(ren)’s imaginative play.
4. Create a “secret” hideaway.
Tucked away in some corner of the yard, you can use almost anything to create a secret cozy nook. Here, kids and grownups alike can escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Use a chair, a bench, a swing – whatever.
5. Hang a hammock.
Hammock in the backyard. A good book. A refreshing beverage. That is the trifecta of joy, right there. Bonus: Kids can use it as a (gentle) swing, too.
6. Soak up a splash pad.
For relatively little cost and space, a splash pad is the perfect backyard retreat for kids on a hot summer’s day. You’ll be the neighborhood favorite hangout!
7. Have a sturdy patio table handy.
Whether you’re often outside grilling, entertaining, or simply soaking up the sun with a good book, a backyard is always enhanced by the presence of a nice patio table. There are plenty of patio tables available to buy, but the time has never been better to find a good DIY tutorial and make one to custom-fit your space.
8. Put in a hot tub.
Nothing is more relaxing at the end of a long day (or in the middle of a regular-length day) than soaking in a hot tub. To keep things family-friendly, of course use extreme caution around the water, and keep a locked cover on the hot tub at all non-use times.
9. Furnish the patio.
No one will last for long in a space where seating is neither available nor comfortable. Cheer up the patio with some colorful furniture to make it inviting, then add some more furniture to make it sufficient for the masses. Enjoy some teen-to-parent heart-to-hearts outside on the patio this school year.
10. Make a life-size checkerboard.
Sod and concrete pavers are all you need to turn your backyard into a one-of-a-kind checkerboard. This is as easy to maintain as a regular lawn. Bonus: Chess tournaments!
11. Build (and decorate) a treehouse.
The more like “home” you make the treehouse, the more magical it becomes to the little ones playing there. It can be big and fancy or simple and sweet, or anywhere in between. If possible, position the treehouse so it’s visible from most of the yard, or even the house, to foster safety and supervision.
12. Recreate a beach scene…all day, every day.
Sand beneath your toes, some comfortable chairs, and a beach ball are the recipe for a relaxing backyard scenario. (The only thing missing is the actual water, but how often do you actually go swimming when you’re at the beach?) This is a great backyard idea for the family who lives too far inland to be able to get to the actual water’s edge often.
13. Install a putting green.
A perfect outdoor family activity, putting golf in the backyard is both bonding and enjoyable. Consider turf options if you’re wary of the maintenance of greens grass.
14. Build a pergola.
Pergolas attract people like fluorescent lights attract moths. Probably a combination of the partial shade, the feel of seclusion, and the ability to scope out the rest of the yard from a comfortable vantage point – whatever the reason, a pergola has a huge potential to bring your family closer together. Literally.
15. Hang a tire swing.
You don’t have to use a tire, exactly, for this concept to bring out the elements of family fun. Use anything – a real swing seat or a wooden spool, for example. (My grandmother made a bed swing out of a wire box springs with a mattress on top, hung from a branch on her enormous backyard oak tree.) Whatever works for safe swinging, do that!
16. Have twinkle lights ready.
While they look great during outdoor evening entertaining, twinkle lights shouldn’t be reserved solely for those occasions. Keep them hanging for a few days (weeks, if the weather permits) and turn them on nightly to encourage your family’s after-dinner outdoor migration.
17. Plant a vegetable garden.
A vegetable garden is not only a deliciously beneficial commodity, but it also provides benefits to the family that works together to plant, tend, and harvest. Raised gardens are a fantastic option for squeezing a garden into a tight backyard space, plus they look great.
18. Cozy up around the fire pit.
Not just for s’mores and hot dog roasting (although those are fun activities, too), fire pits provide a sense of coziness and comfort…not always an easy feat in the great outdoors.
19. Build a covered sandbox.
Watch your young children’s imaginary play while you relax in a nearby lounger in the fresh air of your backyard. A sandbox cover isn’t hard to make and will do wonders in keeping your kids cool, comfortable, and free from sunburn.
20. Plant grass…and lots of it.
While there are many items a family can place in the backyard, sometimes the best opportunity for family activities is simply a wide open expanse of green grass. Football, tag, duck duck goose, kickball. The possibilities are as limitless as your imagination (and energy).