15 Backyard Play Area Ideas for Kids

Backyard play area

Let’s face it – most kids’ energy levels are off the charts from the minute they open their eyes in the morning until they close their eyes at bedtime. They need a safe place to expend all that energy. These 15 backyard play area ideas for kids will help create hours of fun in your own backyard.

Be prepared to have to beg them to come back inside instead of having to beg them to go outside. And don’t forget to create a safer outdoor play space by having trusted adult supervision anytime the kids are out playing.

1. Swing set


A swing set is a staple childhood memory. Most kids enjoy swinging, so having a swing set in the backyard saves a trip to the park.

There’s a wide variety of swingsets available – small, massive, with a slide, some with just the swings, and some with a playhouse attached to it. You’ll have to evaluate the size of your space to determine the size and add-ons to a swingset you can accommodate. Also, consider your kids’ age – younger kids get more years out of a swingset than older kids.

2. Playhouse


A stand-alone playhouse is geared towards toddlers or preschoolers, allowing them a space just their size for their imaginations to soar. Some playhouses feature kitchens that spark creative play.

3. Treehouse

Treehouse backyard

That big tree in your backyard is great for shade, but it could also be excellent for a treehouse. A treehouse provides a new hang-out spot that kids would enjoy. You can make it as simple or complex as you please and customize it in several ways, including adding lights on the inside and outside.

The best part about a treehouse? It can turn into an all-in-one playset if you were to add a slide and swings. 

4. Climbing wall

Wall climbing backyard

If you’re tired of your couch cushions taking a beating from your kids climbing all over them, a climbing wall might benefit your kids and your couch. Rock walls and cargo nets are great options for climbing walls for kids.

Bonus: If you have a treehouse, you could use a rock wall or cargo net instead of stairs going up to the treehouse.

5. Mud kitchen

Mud Kitchen
FotoHelin Images | Canva Pro | License

Your old pots and pans that you were going to throw away are perfect for the kids’ outdoor mud kitchen. Or you can opt for a plastic set of play pots and pans for the kids instead. Either way, the kids are guaranteed to get a little dirty and have a lot of fun with the mud squishing between their little fingers.

6. Sandbox


A sandbox never gets old, and as a bonus, sand play is terrific for sensory and imaginative play. Although younger kids might enjoy smashing sand castles while older kids and adults like to build them, adults and kids of all ages will have fun in the sandpit. All the scooping, shoveling, and raking are so zen.

A sandbox can be an easy DIY project using an old tent to keep the sand secure or more complex by creating a folding cover with bench seats.

7. Sensory bin

Sensory bin
SDI Productions | Canva Pro | License

Sensory play is a vital part of childhood development. You can create sensory bins for your kids with just a few items and large containers. 

  • If an entire sandbox isn’t your jam, you can use sand on a smaller scale in a large tub to create sensory bins. 
  • Rice and dried beans are good substitutes for sand. 
  • Add some miniature construction vehicles, rocks, magnetic letters, counting bears, or other small objects your kids like.

8. DIY obstacle course

DIY obstacle course backyard
Sergey Novikov | Canva Pro | License

A DIY obstacle course in the backyard can be made of virtually anything you have lying around. Some props for a DIY obstacle course include the following:

  • Cones
  • Old tires 
  • Pool noodles
  • Jump ropes
  • Balance beam

9. Bubble station

kids playing with bubbles
Bo1982 | Canva Pro | License

Kids love bubbles, but bubbles can get messy quickly. A defined bubble station will hopefully keep the bubble spillage to one section of the yard and prevent grass damage. 

To help with bubble spillage a step further, you can tape or tie the bubble wands to a post or pillar to eliminate the chance of the liquid leaking out.

10. Chalk play

Courtesy of Janae Soules

Sidewalk chalk is a versatile backyard play area idea. Kids can use their imagination to draw whatever comes to their minds, or they can even draw up a hopscotch game.

Do you have some painter’s tape lying around? You can make a chalk mosaic. To make a chalk mosaic: 

  • Form one big shape as the outline
  • Lay different lengthed pieces of tape going in different directions to create the mosaic
  • Have the kids fill in each section with an array of colors
  • Enjoy the masterpiece!

Tip: If you don’t want sidewalk chalk all over the driveway, invest in some large chalkboards that the kids can use. You can hang the chalkboards to keep the chalk drawing contained in one area.

11. Race track

Race car track
Myrabella | Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 3.0

Creating an outdoor race track makes a perfect place for all the RC cars, hot wheels, and monster trucks. 

For hot wheels or monster trucks, use pavers or large flat stones to create a racetrack. Another option is to cut the pool noodles long ways to make two even halves that the cars can race down.

You’ll need a bigger space to create a race track for RC cars so they can have adequate room to speed up and make turns. A racetrack in the sand with pavers as the boundary is an excellent choice.

12. Water play

Water feature

Summertime is all about staying cool. Adding a water play area to your backyard is a way to beat the heat without going far. Some ideas for a water play area include the following:

  • Water balloons
  • Water guns
  • Inflatable pool

For the younger kids, consider a splash pad or a water table.

13. Outdoor games

Outdoor games
Ian Hughes | Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Kids love playing games, so why not incorporate some outdoor yard games into a backyard play area?

Games like cornhole or ladder toss can be a DIY weekend project. Classic games like red-light, green-light, twister, and capture the flag are always a hit.

Many small games designed for table use, such as four-in-a-row, checkers, chess, and Jenga, have lawn-size games, and those giant pieces definitely add some new fun.

14. Fairy garden

Fairy Garden

A fairy garden is a quaint little creation where kids create a magical, imaginative garden with little figurines and small-scale items. Fairy gardens can be in an existing garden, in a container, or wherever you have space for it.

15. Picnic table

Picnic table

Kids need a place in their backyard play area to rest and recharge – after all, you probably don’t want them eating snacks in the sandbox. A picnic table provides a suitable snack place for kids.

When to call a professional

Mosquito bites and fire ant stings aren’t fun for kids or adults, so it’s best to keep those pests uninvited from the backyard play area. Connect with a local pest control pro who can help. 

And if you can’t convince your teenager to mow the lawn, contact a local lawn care company to take care of your mowing, edging, and trimming needs.

Main Image Credit: Pxhere

Janae Soules

Janae Soules has a newly discovered love of gardening with her kids. She enjoys spending time in nature hiking, biking, or playing sports.