It does not matter what the weather is, children love to be outside. Your children will most likely entertain other family members and neighbors quite often. You will want to design a backyard play area that is safe and one that you can be proud of. Having a well thought out play area that you can be proud of will make play time more enjoyable for all.
Creating a play area means defining and creating an area for children that is fit for any weather. It does not matter if it rained a few hours ago or hasn’t rained for weeks, children are anxious to get outside, so the ground in the play area needs to be mud-free, safe and should allow for firm footing.
Decide what type of equipment will be used in the play area and where it will be placed. Many parents make the mistake of not measuring enough ground space for setting play equipment. You will need to measure and level off enough space for the base of whatever it is you are going to be putting in but you also need to leave enough room around each piece of equipment to allow enough space for any moving pieces.
Now that you have the measurements that you will need for your design, the next step in the process is to decide where to locate the play area. An easy way to visualize the area is to use spray paint on the grass. Spray paint is highly visible and will be removed the next time that the grass is cut.
Since it will be children that will use your new backyard play area, you want to be sure that water does not puddle inside the area and that there is plenty of groundcover to keep them from tracking mud inside. Good ground cover inside the play area will dress up your yard and allow children to get back to playing more quickly after a storm.
If the space to be used is not level, or the grass coverage is thin, there are several good options available to choose from. These include:
– rubber mulch,
– wood mulch,
– matting, and
– Pebble stone.
With any variety of mulch or pebble stone, the biggest issue will be keeping it inside the play space and out of the rest of the yard. Using the wood mulch means that it can be tracked into the house more easily.
The easiest way to keep most of the flooring material inside the play area is to outline the area with pressure treated 4 x 4s. This allows you to build the area up a few inches and keep most of the material inside the boundary. You can keep the wood boundaries in place by staking them into the ground with special rods made for this purpose or digging a trench around the area and laying the wood beams inside the trenches. If you use stakes be sure that no part of them extends to the surface of the lumber. The trench method may be safer since it doesn’t use the metal stakes, but it is also more likely that the lumber will shift as the children play.
When designing a backyard play area for your yard, take your time. Mark out the area that you would like to use. Use a hose or sprinkler and thoroughly soak the area that you have marked to check the drainage. If there is an issue, and you have the space, you may want to move to another part of the yard and try again.
Remember that the goal is to define an area that is mud-free, safe and will allow for firm footing. If your play area fills these requirements, all that’s left to do is to add your equipment.
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