Backyard Play Area Ideas for Kids of Any Ages

Playing in the backyard is great for kids, but sometimes it can seem unappealing to them – simple outdoor play has to compete with all sorts of other entertainments. Building a kid-friendly backyard play area can make the outdoors far more appealing, but it can be hard to think up what to build. We have put together some ideas for kid-friendly backyard play areas that you can build as DIY projects – just read on below to learn more about our top tips and suggestions for play area ideas.

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Backyard Play Areas for Kids aged 0-2

Children under the age of 2 are still figuring out how to interact with the world. They will benefit most from an outdoor play area that exposes them to a wide range of different and new sights, sounds, and textures while they play in a safe and constrained environment.

From around the age of 1, children love to play in sand. A simple backyard sandbox can provide great entertainment for small children, as well as help significantly with the development of muscle and motor skills, as well as simple hand-eye coordination. It is also a valuable introduction to a texture they might not encounter without this form of play! Sandboxes are easy to make as a DIY project, even if you are not particularly experienced with DIY. 

Contrasting against the sandbox, a water table can also be a great way for small children to develop. This is a fun way for children to play and experiment with water, and it teaches them to stand up properly from an early age. A water table is a slightly more advanced DIY project, but it is still entirely doable if you do not want to buy one.

Baby swings are great for toddlers, as long as you have some sort of secure place to hang one from, such as a solid tree or a porch. A bucket seat design is safe and secure, and small children love the repetitive movement of swinging.

Climbing tires are an affordable, fun option for older toddlers. All you need is a large tire and some colorful paint, and both of those can be found for almost no cost at all on sites like Craigslist!

Backyard Play Areas for Kids aged 3-5

By the age of 3, kids are starting to learn more about constructing things and developing abstract thought a bit. That means that they will enjoy and benefit from play areas that support them in playing pretend and building structures.

If you are prepared to put in a huge amount of effort, building a DIY playhouse for your kids can give them an incredible space in which to let their imaginations take flight. If you would prefer something a little simpler, though, you can easily build a den or a fort for them using plywood, boards, sticks, and canvas. 

Messy play is fun for kids and can help them to learn about the world around them. With an old kitchen sink and some pallets, it is easy to build an outdoor mud kitchen for messy outdoor fun on warm days. 

If your children love to play with toy cars and other vehicles, why not build them their own road to play on? With affordable concrete pavers and some simple white paint, you can lay a miniature road around any outdoor play area for fully immersive driving-based play!

If your kids are keen on camping but are not old enough for the real thing yet, then setting up a backyard campsite can give them all the fun and excitement in the safety of your own backyard. Find a level area of ground, free from rocks, roots, and other uncomfortable lumps, and pitch a tent there to give them their own little space in the backyard.

Kids at this age are often engaged with creative activities, so why not encourage them to bring that creativity outside? With some backing boards and chalkboard paint, you can build an outdoor chalkboard wall where they can practice writing, drawing, and generally expressing themselves in an outdoor environment.

Backyard Play Areas for Kids aged 6-12

Older kids are more coordinated and more interested in physical activities and formal games. That means they might want some slightly more advanced backyard play areas, but there are still plenty of things you can do for them yourself as DIY projects in the yard.

A large-scale playset is one of the best things you can do for kids in this age range. Either buy a swing set kit from a home improvement store or build a DIY playset yourself. Larger equipment like this takes a bit of maintenance, though, so you should keep an eye on it to ensure there are no splintered beams, rusty bits, or other snags that could cause issues.

If you have got a large, solid tree in your backyard, why not make full use of it and build a treehouse? A DIY treehouse is a fun project for you that older kids can help with, and the end result is a classic space in which they can play all summer, away from the rest of the family.


There are many different DIY projects you can try your hand at in order to build a fun, safe, kid-friendly play area in your own backyard. You do not have to break the bank to make a beloved play area that your kids will love and remember for the rest of their lives.

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