Child Friendly Landscaping Ideas

Kate Mitchell

June 27, 2023

Whether you have kids of your own or are a proud aunt, uncle or grandparent, adding a touch of fun and a few safety features can make your yard a wonderful place where children can play for hours. And who knows, perhaps the adults want to join the fun as well!

Safety in your outdoor space

A smiling family in a green backyard

The first priority for anyone whose yard will frequently be used by children has to be safety. One obvious tip, especially if you have very young children, is to fence in your yard so the little ones know where their outdoor space ends. Make sure that gate handles are out of reach, and keep gaps to 4" or smaller to prevent little heads from getting stuck.

Another crucial way to keep children safe is to make sure that an adult can see them at all times. Locate play equipment or areas aimed at children where they can easily be seen from a window or patio door or from outdoor furniture. This will give adults the chance to relax (or work) whilst keeping an eye on little ones.

It's also important to provide a suitable surface for any children to play on. This article from Moms who Save runs through some of the different groundcover options and how good they are for kids. Bermuda Grass and Zoysia are two varieties that will grow well in Florida's hot climate and are suitably durable for regular play sessions. If you're not sure, you can always speak to a landscape designer about the best type of grass for your soil type, climate and expected lawn uses.

One more safety suggestion: make sure to plant kid-friendly plants for a landscape design that will be suitable for all members of the family. You may want to avoid any plants with sharp thorns or stinging leaves; it's also a good idea to steer clear of potentially poisonous flowers, especially if your children are very young.

Ask your landscape designer for their best family friendly plant ideas to help you create a safe space that adults and children alike will enjoy.

Fun ideas for a kid-friendly backyard

Once you're happy that all the safety features are covered, it's time to think about adding in some fun features to create a wonderful experience for children right in your own backyard. From backyard play spaces to their very own secret garden, our top ideas are below.

Instill a love of gardening

A young child waters plants in a raised bed

If you enjoy gardening yourself, the chances are that your children will have seen you digging and planting and will be keen to have a go themselves. Even as an adult there's something magical about digging a hole, planting a seed, and watching it grow; creating a space in your yard where your children can have the freedom to experience this for themselves is sure to give them a lifelong love of gardening.

Assigning a raised bed or a container can be a good idea as it gives kids a boundary within which they can experiment and learn through play. Younger children may simply enjoy digging with a small trowel and playing with the soil. Older kids may enjoy planning out what they are going to plant. Giving them the responsibility of looking after their own flowers or veggies is a great learning experience. Edible plants such as herbs or cherry tomatoes are a lot of fun for kids to grow; our article on the best veggies to grow in Florida will give you (and the kids!) some inspiration.

Chances to observe nature

A girl looks closely at a pink and white flower

Many kids are fascinated by bugs, birds and butterflies. Why not incorporate bird feeders and a bird bath, or a pollinator garden to encourage beneficial insects, in your outdoor space? Fill a basket with a bug book, binoculars or a magnifying glass, and a notebook - or you could print out this cute scavenger hunt from Barley & Birch. Encourage your kids to go out each day and explore - you might be surprised what all of you learn!

Just add water

A boy smiles in delight as he runs through a spray of water

One of the best ways to have fun, and to stay cool in hot weather, is to add a water element to your backyard. This can be as simple as a hosepipe, a sprinkler or a bucket of water pistols for summer play. Or if you're feeling fancy, you can create or purchase a slip-n-slide, or hook the hose up to an inflatable water slide or splash pad! Another way to add the sensory experience of water play to your kid-friendly landscape is to use an inflatable mini pool; some are big enough for the whole family to enjoy.

It's important to ensure that children are always supervised around water to avoid accidents. That shouldn't be a hardship - in our experience, the adults usually want to join in the fun as well. Just make sure to have plenty of towels ready - inside the back door!

Sensory play

Four children chase bubbles around the yard

Water is not the only way to incorporate sensory play into your children's backyard experience. A classic option is to create a sandbox for the little ones to play in. Whether you go for a sand tray on legs that they can stand at or a full-on sandpit for them to sit inside, your children will enjoy digging, pouring, and creating sandcastles.

Don't forget that your yard itself is a great source of natural materials for kids to enjoy. You can easily build a mud kitchen and put out some old pots, pans and spoons for the children to play with. Be prepared to enthuse over all the potions and concoctions they create!

On a breezy day, bubble wands or a bubble machine are a fun way to explore the natural environment. Whether you purchase a bubble kit or go for homemade bubble solution using dish soap, you can create small or gigantic bubbles and enjoy the magic together.

Art and craft

Colorful chalks on a chalky sidewalk

There are many ways for children to enjoy art and craft in the backyard. One mess-free option is simply to give them a bucket of water and a large paintbrush. They can enjoy doodling and painting on the fence or on concrete pavers, and the sun will quickly dry it out.

A step up from this is to provide pavement chalk. Kids can create their own doodles and designs - or even practice their times tables or spelling words - and, next time it rains, the slate will be wiped clean for them to begin again. Other options such as sidewalk chalk paint can vary the experience.

Play equipment

Two children enjoy swings in the backyard

There's nothing like a swing or a trampoline for hours of outdoor fun and free exercise. If you have the space, you might even want to buy or build a play frame - think climbing walls, monkey bars or even a backyard fort - plenty of options are available. Don't be surprised if your kids find creative ways to use these structures. A trampoline, for example, makes an excellent place to chill out with a good book (whatever your age).

Indoor activities outdoors

One child holds a net and another a ukulele; they are surrounded by tall grass

Allowing your children to enjoy the outdoor environment can be as simple as providing a picnic blanket or an outdoor table and allowing them to bring some of their favorite activities outside with them. Reading, sketching, painting and legos can all be a lot of fun outside. And of course you can make lunch, dinner or even breakfast into an event by carrying your food outside to enjoy together.

Whatever ideas you choose, we hope you get out into the backyard this summer with your kids (or grandkids, nephews or nieces!) and enjoy spending some quality family time together in the outdoors.

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