Getting outdoors and running around in the fresh air is all part of growing up and outdoor play is regarded as a key part of any child’s learning and development. The garden offers new adventures, space to explore and a safe haven to let imaginations run wild.
If you’re looking for a little garden inspiration on how to create a garden that offers the best outdoor experience for your little ones, we’ve put together a selection of cost-effective yet super fun ideas that your kids will love!
A mud kitchen is an outdoor pretend-play cooking area. Little ones can get messy, gather ingredients from around the garden, practice their culinary skills and create all sorts of weird and wonderful mud pies. It’s oodles of fun, and ideal for younger children to practice fine motor skills.
Whilst there are plenty of pre-purpose-built mud kitchens out there on the market, you don’t necessarily need to opt for the ready-made approach. There is tonnes of fun to be had in building a DIY mud kitchen that doesn’t cost a fortune.
You can use pieces of timber, such as decking or sleepers, to create a frame and upcycle old kitchen sinks, cupboard doors, pots, pans and cutlery. Paint the mud kitchen your child’s favourite colours and even add a roof so that your little ones can get their chef on rain or shine.
The sandpit – a timeless classic. Kids love playing in the sand, building castles, burying and digging up treasure and creating pools and mountains. It’s a fantastic piece of play equipment for early years children, including toddlers, as it offers the perfect opportunity to build on hand-eye coordination, problem-solving and when playing with other children, social skills, too.
Building your own DIY sandpit enables you to easily integrate a sandpit into your garden’s design. They are super-easy to make, inexpensive and, because they can be made to any size and shape, highly adaptable.
You can use a choice of timber materials to create the frame including sawn treated timber, decking boards and sleepers and even create small benches within the sandpit for your little ones to sit on. Be sure to use some sort of waterproof membrane to prevent weeds from growing through. Then all that’s left to do is fill your sandpit and you’re ready to go! To keep your sandpit leaf-free on windy days, you could also create an easy-to-lift cover using hardwood ply boards.
Let’s be honest, growing fruits and vegetables and picking fresh produce from your own back garden is a lot of fun, even as an adult! But getting the kids involved too is a superb way of teaching them where food comes from, giving them some responsibility and even encouraging even the fussiest of eaters to broaden their pallets and try new, healthy and organically grown foods.
Why not section off an area of your garden where your children can have their very own little allotment patch? Raised beds made using sleepers are ideal for this and can be built to a size and shape of your choosing.
Experiment with different easy-to-grow fruits and veggies such as strawberries, tomatoes, courgettes, aubergines, carrots and sugar snap peas. You could even grow your very own pumpkins, ideal for Halloween fun!
Kids love getting creative, but as most parents will know, this often comes hand in hand with lots of mess and tidying up. But don’t let that discourage you. Instead, why not create a section of your garden specifically designed for messy play?
Whether it’s a fun science experiment, homemade slime or, dare we say it, glitter, this is a contained section of your garden where creative juices can flow.
And, you can fit it out with lots of elements that add to the fun. You could incorporate a chalkboard, made from hardwood ply and painted with black chalk paint. Or how about a sound wall, where you mount old pots and pans onto a fence. This could even be the perfect spot for a mud kitchen. And for when it’s time to get the paint out or do a spot of drawing, create a seating space using sleepers, where your little ones can sit and let out their inner artist.
Kids love exploring, uncovering rocks and finding creepy crawlies. It’s great for their own learning and development, whilst getting them out in the fresh air and discovering the natural world. What better way to teach your children about the environment and local ecosystem than by creating your very own wildlife haven in your back garden?
By planting a selection of wildflowers and plants, you’ll be encouraging all sorts of bugs and animals into your garden. You could add some bird feeders, hedgehog houses and even a small pond feature, ideal for frogs, dragonflies and newts.
If you’re someone who loves a DIY project and consider yourself a little bit handy with a drill and saw, then building your children their very own outdoor play equipment might just be the perfect project for you. The beauty of this is that your creation can be as complex or simple as you want it to be and completely tailored to your garden space.
You could go all out, and build a timber frame treehouse, climbing frame and swing set or opt for something that is a little more subtle, such as an obstacle course that blends in with your garden landscape. This could include balance beams, stepping stones, wobble boards and bridges made from a selection of timber, including sleepers, old tyres and rope. To really make your obstacle course look the part, incorporate a range of materials in the landscape design including shingle, sand and wood chippings.