Nature is the best playmate any child could wish for.
Trees can become castles, bushes can be converted into a secret fort, mud can be squished and squelched, stones and gravel can become building blocks for miniature cities, butterflies and bugs can be caught and dissected, seeds can be transformed into plants that can be eaten – nature fires up a child’s imagination and provides endless opportunities for them to play, discover and learn.
Plus, with the modern world’s obsession with screens and technology, there’s never been a more important time to encourage kids to move away from the virtual world and discover the delights of the real world.
Here are some simple and clever ways of creating a child-friendly nature play backyard that will stimulate a child’s senses and provide them with hours of fun, games and discovery. Obviously, safety is a priority so it’s important to establish the ground rules up front and avoid using any products or plants which may be harmful.
Create some space
Manicured lawns are great for cricket and croquet, but for nature play, you’ll need to set aside an area where things are a little less orderly! Screens made from natural materials like bamboo, hedging shrubs, tree stumps, grasses or even a wooden fence with a gate can be used to keep the play area separate and hide it from view if necessary.
Make a plan
Even if the play area is intended to be organic and unstructured, it’s best to draw up a design upfront so that you make the best use of the available space and don’t miss any opportunities. Some things you may want to include in your plan are a water feature, a tree for climbing, a swing or tree-house, a garden bed, shrubs or bushes for hideaways, a sandpit and a storage area for playthings – even a worm farm or compost heap.
Resource with natural materials
Your backyard wouldn’t be complete without toys and equipment – and Mother Nature has all you need. You can use water, pebbles, gum nuts, sticks, gravel, bark, plants, logs as well as a host of other natural materials for children to play with and create things with.
Some ideas for your child-friendly nature play backyard are:
- Logs of varying heights for stepping and balancing
- A pond or water feature for messy (but fun!) mud play
- A sand-pit
- A raised garden bed (which is easier for everyone to access)
- Shrubs, grasses and other materials for creating a fort, tepee or secret hideaway
- Plants which are edible, or which attract insects, or those which can be used in imaginative play such as snapdragons. Remember, fast-growing plants, herbs and veggies are going to be the most rewarding for a child
- Old tyres which can be used as storage or as building blocks
- A tree-house
Kids will love getting involved in their ‘own’ dynamic outdoor space and they’ll delight in all the many opportunities it presents for them to explore, experiment, use their imaginations and engage with nature. They’ll get dirty, but who cares. Mud can be washed off, but the memories will stay with them forever.
And if you want some lush green grass for your play backyard, you should talk the premier supplier of turf in Perth, Greenacres. They are WA’s largest turf farm and they offer a variety of quality weed-free lawns at competitive prices – so if you want to talk to the experts about roll-on lawn for your backyard, give them a call on 08 9468 9193 or visit their website, www.greenacresturfgroup.com.au.