Thursday, August 12, 2010

Build a natural playscape in your own yard

My love for natural playscapes stems from my very fond childhood memories in the creek by our house (until we found a bra there one day... ewww), and from going to the plant nursery with my dad on the weekends.  I finally got my hands on this great book by Rusty Keeler and it has opened up a whole new world for me. 

The main point of Natural Playscaping- Making use of an entire space by creating simple, engaging, natural areas using trees, grass, paths, and plants for children (and me, too) to discover and explore and play.  It is a craft. And I am loving it.  Sooooooooo much.

Here's 10 ideas for a do-it-yourself backyard natural playscape :

1. Create secret path circuits.  A figure-eight trike track, a balance beam trail, a willow tunnel.  Maybe  add a random small gate; kid's love opening and closing doors.

2. Build a hill.  Doesn't have to be big.  3-5 feet high is plenty.  You can put your slide here if you want to, or build a playhouse on top.  Or just have a hill.  Perfect for the center of one of your paths.


3. Plant strategically and in clusters.  Create hiding nooks, small rooms, and secret spaces.  Sunflower houses, a maze of corn, a cluster of bamboo to shield a sitting spot.

4. Large scale natural elements.  Fallen trees or giant boulders for climbing and sitting.

5. Plenty of sitting areas.  Stumps work great for walking on, resting, as a table, to make mud pies, etc.

6. Moving Water.  Kids love moving water.  The book has some awesome ideas for this one.  But I personally love my second hand kitchen sink installed at kid height and hooked up the the hose.

7. Use what you've got.  Integrate existing plants and architecture.  If you have a long wall... install side-to-side climbing grips.
8. Let them get dirty.  You can wash them off later.
9. Smellscapes.  Plant herbs everywhere.  Every nook and space can have a smell.  Use herbs instead of traditional groundcover.
10. Soundscapes. The book has some awesome ideas for this one, too.  Outside is a great place for making music!


Most information, but not all, taken from 
Natural Playscapes: Creating Outdoor Play Environments For The Soul 
By Rusty Keeler.

For more interesting ideas for playground alternatives and natural playscape ideas, check out this blog.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Can you tell me more about the outdoor sink. Does it have a drain or just drain out onto the ground? Love this idea!

Marghanita Hughes said...

Love this post.The kitchen sink is a brilliant idea and I adore the willow tunnel.
Thanks for sharing.
Here is my post on Natural Play Structures. Hope you like.


http://www.marghanita.com/gardening-with-chloe-natural-play-structures/

Azalea said...

saw this on Active Kids Club. What a great post!

shannon said...

Glad you like it! The sink just drains right onto the ground. Not even a dry bed or anything. We've got sandy soil so it hasn't been a problem.

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