Simple ideas to spruce up your backyard with the kids— without spending a fortune.

  • Find a table and chairs at a garage sale— or in your own garage— and let the kids revive the furniture for the summer with some left-over paints. Scrub down the furniture first, scraping off the loose paint. Don’t worry about getting the table and chairs perfect. The idea is to add some color for the season and to let the kids be creative and have fun.
  • Make an old-fashioned tree swing with 1½-inch-diameter manila rope. Tie it loosely but securely around a strong tree branch. Tie a knot in the bottom of the rope on which to sit. Just make sure a child has plenty of room to swing in all directions.
  • Buy or make a wooden bench and a wood burning tool. Let the kids carve their names, hearts, stars, moons and other shapes on the bench. When you stain the bench a bright color, the carvings will pop.
  • String a hammock between two trees.
  • Add a birdhouse to the yard. You can buy an unfinished birdhouse at a craft store or make a birdhouse from scratch. Enjoy decorating the birdhouse with your children and choosing a prominent location to place it in the backyard.
  • Fill flower boxes. Simple flower boxes can be purchased at the hardware store and then decorated and planted with veggies or flowers.
  • Make stepping stones. Many craft stores sell kits with the molds and cement you’ll need for this project. Decorate the stepping stones with embellishments, such as marbles, shells, pebbles and beads.

It’s great to get the kids involved in transforming your backyard into the ultimate safe and adorned play place. Kids have a knack for playful decorations, and enhancing the yard is a perfect outlet for harnessing children’s creative energy. Plus, helping to design the backyard gives kids a sense of pride and ownership.

Safety Considerations For Backyard Play Structures

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  • Barbara Butler

    Barbara Butler, founder of Barbara Butler Artist-Builder Inc., has made more than 350 original play structures, tree houses and playhouses for families around the world. Butler’s prestigious client list includes Robert Redford, Will and Jada Pinket Smith, Kevin Kline and Phoebe Cates, Bobby McFerrin, Lindsay Buckingham of Fleetwood Mac, Jasmine Guy and Walt Disney Productions. See to learn more