It all started last year. We were welcoming a new baby and we needed an outlet for our oldest. But since we knew we were going to be stuck at home with the newborn, we had to create it here. And that’s when the crazy idea was born to turn our side yard into a playground. The grass didn’t really grow here since it was so shaded, and with 20+ acres, we had plenty of space to give up. So my husband started by laying out a rope along the yard in the shape of what we thought we wanted the playground to look like. We really thought this was going to be a two weekend project, and it turned into an all summer project. But I promise you it was well worth it. And if you’re questioning whether or not your kids need a playground at your house, they do. Every day, Ryan is out here playing. We were worried we’d get it done and she wouldn’t use it, but that’s just not the case. Our efforts paid off, and we no longer have to look at playground equipment spread out all over the property. Or weed whip under it.
The entire playground as it stands now includes a
- sandbox trellis
- climbing dome
- kids planting boxes
- potting bench
We are currently working on a zip line that will end in the playground, but that’s a work in progress. Most of the playground equipment was gifted to our kids over holidays and birthdays so that cost really wasn’t ours. The majority of the cost of this project included two dump trucks of mulch. And all the spraying we had to do before then to kill the grass so it didn’t pop up between the mulch. But we’re on year two with this playground and each year it is easier to maintain. This year all I had to do was give it a light weed spraying, add a light layer of mulch, and it was good to go. I also often come out here and spray down the playground equipment to keep it fresh and clean. We just use a 100′ hose to do so. And in the winter, the playhouse gets covered with a tarp to keep the Michigan winters from deteriorating it.
The playhouse is the KidKraft Country Vista playhouse kit and we’ve had it for over 4 years. It is a kit, so you do have to put it together but it’s not too difficult. We also did paint and stain our playhouse because the wood it comes with will not hold up to the elements. You do need to waterproof it if you want it to last. Like I said, this is our fourth year with it and I’ve only touched up the white paint once, last year. I found these fence panels on the front of our property. They were falling down, so I chopped them up and used them as a mandevilla trellis on either side of the playhouse. It adds a magical element and I also cleaned up the property at the same time. I didn’t permanently install them so that I can take them down for winter. They are just held up by flower planters on either side.
The potting bench has since been discontinued. It was a Pottery Barn Kids find years ago. It did not hold up well outside, so I did just give that a makeover this year by spray painting it pink and sealing it with a waterproof spray. We moved it down here in front of the playhouse and added a few flowers like Ryan wanted. This way she stays out of my plants and has her own to mess with. It’s supposed to have a shelf on the back but ours never came with it in the box, and by the time I reached out to them, the product had been discontinued.
The climbing dome was a birthday gift to our daughter. It’s huge and can be found on Amazon. They do take up a large amount of space and one toy I thought wouldn’t get any use. But I often look out and see her climbing on it. It’s made of metal and has held up several years here in Michigan. We don’t cover it or do anything with it in the winter.
The sandbox trellis was a DIY. We wanted a sandbox but didn’t want it to be ugly and needed some more landscaping in the area. So we drew up this plan and built it in a weekend. It cost around $350 and we planted wisteria behind it. Once the wisteria matures, it will cover this entire trellis and be covered in beautiful flowers. We still need to build a sandbox cover for it which will double as a rolling table, but we have a project list a mile long. For the inside of the sandbox, we just built a frame around an existing sandbox we had on hand.
The swingset was also a birthday gift we had the entire family go in on. I wouldn’t recommend this one, but it seems any swingset is just not made the way it was when we were kids. They’re all really small and made of a wood that splinters in the winter. I did use a stain/sealant product to seal the swingset, but it needs it again. It does the job though and the kids still use it, so it stays.
We also have a trampoline set in the back of the playground. We used to have the net around it, but a tree fell on it and it drove us nuts, so we removed it.
And finally, her planting boxes. These are just raised beds we put in here so Ryan could garden with mama. We planted wildflowers in them this year and last she she tried to grow some veggies. I have my own large garden out in the field, so this way she can tend to hers and dig in the dirt all she wants. They’re also a nice way to add landscaping to the playground without worrying about kids messing it up.