Backyard Remodel: Play Area

Backyard Play Keeps Parents Sane

Part 4 of the 8-part Backyard Remodel series.

A primary impetus for remodeling the backyard was to create a safe space for the kids to play without needing to leave the house. We are fortunate to have many nice parks nearby that we frequent, but as the kids get older, we’re finding it relieving to assign them outside time with minimal supervision. Even a fifteen-minute break from the noise and chaos can be enough to allow us to recharge. Gotta stay sane, amirite?

When envisioning our backyard remodel, I had grand aspirations of creating a natural play area that leveraged the unique contours of our yard. It may have suited our interests well in the short run, but I was wisely advised by my highly influential silent partner that a classic retaining wall would be more economical as a long-term investment and would be a better asset if/when it comes time to sell the house.

So…  now we have retaining walls.

Having done ample excavation thus far in this project, I got to work shortly after completing our patio to level the yard for a swingset. Similar to the patio-half of the yard, I had to increase the height of the front retaining wall by 1.5′ to make the space level. While leveling, I opted to section off a small 3’x4’ area to serve as a sandbox – much to the dismay of my own conscience warning me about the impending mess it would produce. “A small tradeoff for children’s joy,” I told myself. Time will tell.

After prepping the site, I found some hardware at Eastern Jungle for a set that fit snuggly into the play area. The hardware came quickly; the hard part was finding the time and truck to transport a 12’ timber serving as the main beam from Home Depot. It took two months, but after two failed attempts to obtain and transport the timber, my dad and brother came to the rescue. Once we finally had the timber, assembling the swingset only took a couple hours; it wasn’t too unlike building Ikea furniture.

The kids seem to enjoy their new play area! They took to it quickly and spent at least a portion of their days outside. Its great to have a space where they can expend their energy while I can relax on the patio with a Pumpkinhead in hand!

Someone should teach these kids how to swing properly.

The Saga continues

I’d still like to find a way to integrate the natural slope of the yard more naturally into the play area, perhaps by installing a slide alongside the fence or retrofitting a portion for the retaining wall into a rock wall. Alas, the kids will need to settle for a swing set and sandbox for now. “Play Area 2.0” could give them something to look forward to in the future; the current setup is still much improved over what was there before.

Phase 1: Project Planning & Prep

Phase 2: Retaining Walls

Phase 3: Patio

Phase 4: Play Area

Phase 5: Safety Fence

Phase 6: Seeding & Landscaping

Phase 7: Privacy Fence

Phase 8: Custom Playground

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