Friday, May 13, 2011

* Backyard Makeover: Kid Friendly Play Spaces

Today I'm giving you a tour of our recently 
re-made (spruced up) backyard. 

We love our backyard and spend as much time 
out here as possible...

That's "E" hanging out in our trees. 
See the little fence behind her? 
That borders our neighbor's yard and they have two dogs
who aren't very nice to the girls.

Every time we go out to our swing set, 
the dogs come running up to the (low) fence
baring their teeth, growling, and barking aggressively. 

The result: My kids are (were) afraid to go play
 in our own backyard and this mama 
bares her teeth and growls aggressively back at the dogs.

That's not cool. 

We saved up for two years and just put this fence in.
It's 7 feet tall and makes the yard feel like Fort Knox....
I mean, our own private oasis!

That's the old swing set. 
The one we bought when we moved in.
It was too small for growing girls and their friends.
 E's legs were too long for it. 

So.... we donated the set to Freecycle to a family with very young children
and inherited our next door neighbors' (not the dog people) swing set. 

Hubby and I replaced the top beam and hardware,
added our own swings and replaced the grass
with (free) county mulch.

That would be 7 pick-up truck loads of mulch
scooped and shoveled by yours truly. 

With some help from hubby...
but I did a lot of it while he was at work! 

We anchored the swing set with heavy duty wire
(can't remember what it's called) 
and twist into the ground (screw thingy) airplane anchors.

(My father in law is a pilot and got us these anchors for the swing set)

I tied on the ribbons so we (and the girls) see the lines 
and don't trip on them!

My view from my new hammock.
Yup, I got a hammock with a hammock stand as 
part of the new "backyard" makeover. 

It's great for Snuggling.
And.... Giggling little girls swinging. 

It also makes a good boat, pirate ship, space ship, etc.!

"E" climbing her favorite tree.

Cute-patootie yard flags and gazing balls 
made by my favorite little artists during my 

Obstacle course made from more 
stumps scavenged at the dump
and cinderblocks found in our yard (from the previous owners). 

Check out these monster tree stumps my hubby
and brother-in-law brought home from the dump.

They each weigh more than I do!
They make great "stages" for impromptu backyard performances. 

In the left corner you'll see our neighbor's 
homemade balance beam
they gave us with the swing set (score!)

See the circle of tree stumps....
This is the area the girls call 
"Nature School"

That's "Boulder" over on the left of the circle. 
We brought him/her with us from the old house. 
He'll be moving with us every time we move. 
And yes....our movers thought we were crazy -- whatever, he's our boulder. 

They love to play school, house, and all kinds of other 
fun, secret games. We've scavenged the tree stumps 
from the dump and neighbor's trash.

And yes...we play in our PJs in the backyard, don't you?

Just over "E"s shoulder (sitting you can see it on the tree stump behind her) 
is one of the other favorite backyard "toys": 
their Mortar and Pestle

I picked it up at a Homegoods store for less than $10.
(like Marshalls or any of those other discount home ware stores)

Worth. every. penny. 
(I think every kid should have a mortar and pestle.)

The girls use it for potions, 
grinding up flowers, leaves, 
making homemade nature paint, etc. 

This is our "Mud Pit"area of the yard.
Our red clay soil doesn't perk well 
and we're planning to do a dry river bed with
stone (someday...) but in the meantime, 
my girls love to put on their boots and make muddy messes!

(The girls were pretending to be witches making 
witch's brew and coffee.) : ) 

The girls also play with their Fairy Garden daily. 
They've done a great job maintaining it,
trimming bushes, picking mini weeds, etc.

(the tiny pagoda and bridge are from the fish decorations area at the pet store)

The girls made their Fairy Garden
with Grandpa last summer. 

Hope you enjoyed your mini tour of our yard,
let us know when you want to come play!

pink and green mama, MaryLea


Jennifer said...

I love what you've done! We just created a little area in the backyard using discarded tree stumps/trunks too... but I've had this nagging feeling that something was missing. Now I know it's a mortar and pestle!!!! Thankk you for the GREAT idea! I'm hitting Homegoods this weekend to see if I'll get lucky.

Great job!

Magillie said...

Oh MaryLea!!
Are you for hire? Your backyard looks fantastic! Job well done!!

Deanna said...

What a fabulous backyard! I've been working on ours...well namely our deck, but yard as well. I really want to add a fort (since I have boys too and they would all love it). I do need to make my girls a cool fairy garden too though! Thanks for the inspiration!

Kelli Robin said...

Love your blog! Just discovered it today and cannot get enough. Your back yard is so inspiring. I need to do some of these things for my kiddos too.


Karen said...

This is fantastic! Thank goodness Blogger is back up so we can all see! It is too wonderful to miss!

Congratulations on finishing this project. It looks like you and your family will enjoy it for many years to come.

: )

child central station said...

This is amazing! I'm linking you up to my outdoor classroom inspiration page ;). I LOVE what you have done!

ReadyOrNot said...

I just spruced up our backyard too! Got rid of our old rusty swingset, put in a garden, fairy garden, giant rock and tee pee! I love the stumps! Very cute.

Catherine Hansen Peart said...

I am going to bookmark all these ideas for when we get a more permanent home. In the meantime, I am so making a fairy garden with my kids!! Love it all!

Christie - Childhood 101 said...

Pop the kettle on and we'll be over shortly :)

jenny @ let the children play said...

Completely in love with your back yard make over MaryLea :) Those giant stumps are beauties - I want some for preschool!

Kate @ An Amazing Child said...

MaryLea this is just wonderful! And well done for shoveling all that mulch! I'm impressed. We have the most disastrous backyard at our new place and I'm really not sure what I can do (it's a rental) but I have my thinking cap on :)
Will you come by and link this up on Friday?

Sara said...

Love your blog! I just discovered it today (via Pinterest) and I'm feeling so inspired. I just love the fairy garden your girls made. Do you have any tips on how to make one of our own? I'm thinking it would be a great little project for my girls this summer. Thanks!

Val in the Rose Garden said...

That is wonderful MaryLea! It looks so inviting!

I am just coming out of post partum hybernation and starting to surf the internet a bit more and one of the first places I wanted to stop was your blog.

Love you friend!



Marina said...

Hi Pink & Green Mama - your yard is wonderful :)
When I read about the dogs, I thought I'd share a tip.
Our doggies were getting silly - barking when I wasn't home, they were feeling a bit neglected :(
A dog whisperer came in and armed us with a plastic water bottle (1.25litre) and a bunch of five cent pieces. Now it must be small coins - the larger ones change the pitch. This method pulled our dogs back into line in minutes!
We took the bottle to the beach and this monstrous dog came running at my daughter - she had the bottle in her hand and banged it, the poor dog didn't know what to do. My daughter just cracked up laughing from the dog's reaction.

When the dogs come running up to the fence, bang it on the ground a few times - hard - don't say anything, don't look at them - it must be just the fence line they associate with the noise - not you or the girls.
The problem will be fixed in no time. Harmless to the dogs, you can feel better too a bit of banging always helps frustration :)
Most of all the girls will feel comfortable in their wonderful oasis :)

Anonymous said...

Love your blog!! I was checking out your ideas for organizing kid's art supplies(which were great) when I saw your backyard ideas...love the fairy garden...did you use bonsai trees?

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