If you have children and you’re also lucky enough to have a backyard, you’ll want them to be out there as much as possible. Fresh air is good for children (it’s good for adults too), and with screens being such a prevalent part of everyone’s lives, it’s good to get away from them and play and learn in other ways. So making the most of your backyard is a good idea. Yet it can be hard to know how to do that in the right way, especially if you’re not someone who spends much time out there yourself. With this in mind, here are some of the things you should try to include in your backyard if you have children.
Before we talk about the things that will benefit your children in terms of fun and play, it’s important to mention fencing. You’ll want your backyard to be safe, and although a lot of the time you’ll be supervising, as children get older, they won’t need you quite so much, and you might feel confident enough to let them be outside by themselves. Equally, you want to know that they are safe and private in the yard – that no one can get in who isn’t meant to be there. That’s why good fencing is important.
Using something of high quality is a good idea. In that way, you can be sure of security, safety, and the fact that your yard will still look good. Make sure this is installed first, and you can feel much more comfortable using your backyard to the utmost.
A Learning Area
Nature is an amazing way for children to learn. They can learn about being environmentally friendly, for example, and about how to take care of the natural world. They can also learn about the weather, how to grow plants and vegetables, and much more besides. Almost every lesson can be taught using nature as a guide. Therefore, it’s great if there is a learning area in your backyard for the children.
This area doesn’t have to be signposted as a learning area (in fact, when children don’t know they’re learning, information tends to be more easily retained), and you don’t necessarily have to make too many changes – it will depend on how much you intend to use it. It could be that you keep this one area un-mowed and with wildflowers rather than neatly planted and chosen ones. Perhaps you’ll put in a bee hotel, or you’ll make a special habitat for a sphinx moth. Think about how your children can learn and what kinds of lessons you might like to teach them, and create a space that caters to this, and you’ll be amazed at how much they’ll start to appreciate nature – and so will you.
Nature is amazing, and it’s good for children to play in the trees, on the lawn, and so on. However, although this is good, it’s also good to have a dedicated play area with a jungle gym, slides, swings, a sandbox, and other fun toys and activities. In this way, you can give them their own space where they can play and have as much fun as they want, either by themselves, with you, with siblings, or with any friends they might ask over for a playdate.
Depending on how much room you have in your garden, this play area could be any size; as long as it’s safe and you don’t overfill it because if there is too much stuff in the area you have, it will be difficult to use. Perhaps you and your child can even design the area together if they’re old enough to have a say in it.
Even if you don’t have room for many toys and games, try to find room for a playhouse. Sometimes children, even very young children, just want to be by themselves, and this is the ideal place for them to do that. The playhouse can be filled with books and art supplies – just no screens – and have comfortable chairs and even a table to place snacks and drinks on.
Make sure the kids know this is their space, and they can be as private as they need to be in it. It will make them feel very grown up and have a lot more confidence in themselves as a result.
No matter what you put in your backyard to keep your children happy and occupied and out in the fresh air, it’s crucial to consider shade. You’ll need to ensure there are some shady areas for them and perhaps even design their playground so that it’s in a shady spot. After all, if they intend to spend many hours out there playing, the last thing anyone will want is to suffer from sunburn, dehydration, or sunstroke.
Shade can be found under trees or, if natural shade can’t be used in your backyard, large patio umbrellas might be a good alternative, or even an awning installed permanently on your home.
A lawn is the best place to play. It can be used to practice cartwheels and handstands, as a ball field, or just as a place to spread out. Choose plants and shrubs that are easy to care for and can stand up to balls and trampling in the flower beds around the lawn to ensure it always looks healthy and lush.
It is possible to install fake grass in your yard, and although this does have many advantages – there is hardly any maintenance required, to begin with – it’s not so great for kids. It can get very hot in the sun, making it an unsafe place to play, and it isn’t always soft underfoot. Plus, it’s not natural, so it’s not helping children understand the world. That’s why installing real grass is usually the best option. If you’re worried about the maintenance aspect, why not have your children help out? It’s useful for them to learn skills in life and take on responsibility, and caring for their own patch of lawn can be a great place to start.