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The Home Depot

10 Essentials for a Backyard Playground

Pro Referral > Home Guides > Landscaping > 10 Essentials for a Backyard Playground
10 Essentials for a Backyard Playground

When the kids need a spot to climb and play in the backyard, a playground can be the ideal way to keep them active and happy. Even novice construction skills should be sufficient to enable you to build a structure that will keep kids happily engaged.


As you design and plan the play structure, keep safety at the top of your priority list. The U. S. Consumer Product Safety Commission warns that home playgrounds can be dangerous for kids, with both injuries and even deaths occurring from equipment that may have improper installation or a lack of safety features.


Keep your kids safe and find 10 essentials for a backyard playground to install a safe and fun structure in your yard.

  1. 1.Choose the Site

    Choose the Site

    The spot you choose for a backyard playground is important for the overall success of the play area. It’s important to have a good view of the playground from windows of the house if you’ll be supervising from indoors from time to time. It’s also important to have a clear earshot of the playground so you can hear your kids as they play on the structure. A level area is also important to ensure that the structure sits correctly on the ground.

  2. 2.Choose the Equipment

    Playground Equipment

    The equipment you install in your background playground depends on the age of your kids. While it’s enticing to create an expansive play area that will rival local amusement parks, it may be safer and less expensive to keep your background play area more simple. Install equipment that fits the ages and abilities of your kids – equipment that is too large or too challenging for your kids may lead to injuries. Also, follow manufacturer instructions to the letter to ensure that you install the equipment correctly. Don’t forget the simple features of a playground that still appeal to many kids – swings and slides never go out of style. Plan to update and add to your background playground as your kids grow to keep your play area fresh and entertaining.

  3. 3.Safe Surface

    Safe Surface

    The surfaces under your playground are important for keeping your kids safe when the inevitable falls happen. By installing safe surfaces under equipment that will absorb impacts, kids shouldn’t receive serious injuries such as broken bones and head injuries. Rubber mulch or foam padding is especially effective for creating a soft spot for kids to land. In addition, make sure that the safe surface extends out at least 6 feet from every edge of the playground structure.

  5. 4.Add Natural Features

    Natural Features

    A backyard playground doesn’t have to include just slides, swings and climbing structures. Kids also enjoy playing on natural features. Add sand, climbing rocks and some variation in the landscape – remember rolling down hills? Kids still love this! You might also incorporate green materials in your structure such as redwood or cedar to ensure that the playing environment for your kids is high quality.

  6. 5.Adding Shelter

    Adding Shelter

    Don’t let bright sun or drizzling rain keep your kids away from their backyard playground. By adding shelter over the play area, you can ensure that your kids don’t suffer sunburn and that they stay dry while they play outdoors. Shade can be especially important in areas where summer temperatures regularly soar and the sun makes playing outdoors uncomfortable. If your geographic location receives regular rainfall, your kids would probably appreciate a little shelter from damp weather conditions.

  7. 6.Incorporate the Unexpected

    Incorporate the Unexpected

    As you design a backyard playground, don’t forget to use your imagination to create an enjoyable area for your kids. By adding the unexpected to the playscape, your kids will receive extra enjoyment. Try adding a hammock between two trees to let kids kick back while they play. You might even add a zip line between two spots in your backyard for play that will appeal to kids of many ages. A playhouse can give effective shelter for pretend play. Don’t forget a comfortable bench for your own relaxation while you watch the kids play.

  8. 7.Fencing your Property

    Fencing your Property

    If you want to enhance privacy in your backyard playground, a fence around the perimeter of your property is essential. A privacy fence – higher and made with wood – not only keeps visitors out of your yard, but it keeps prying eyes from your kids while they play. Fencing your backyard playground also ensures that wandering animals don’t damage your outdoor area or interfere with your kids’ play.

  9. 8.Regular Inspection

    Regular Inspection

    After you go through the installation process and the kids start using the backyard playground, it’s important to inspect and maintain the area carefully to prevent injuries. Equipment wears out over time and with use. Check the connections and the sturdiness of chains and ropes. Make sure no sharp edges or points protrude out from the playground structure. With regular maintenance and inspection, you can expect your backyard playground to last approximately 10 years before you’ll need to begin replacing worn pieces.

  11. 9.Supervision


    Kids need supervision as they play on any structure – whether it’s at the park or it’s in your own backyard. Especially when your kids are learning the ropes of the backyard playground, watch them carefully so they play safely. If you have kids of different ages, you may have some parts of the playground that are too advanced for little ones. Make sure your little ones play in the areas safe for them – not in the advanced areas.

  12. 10.Surrounding Landscaping

    Surrounding Landscaping

    The landscaping areas that surround a backyard playground need some special consideration. Kids play hard as a rule – this isn’t the place to plant your prize rose bushes. It’s only a matter of time before little feet trample your plants or an errant ball bounces through a dainty flower garden. Instead, place your fragile plants in another spot of your yard and add durable and low-maintenance plants and shrubs near the backyard playground.


    While the time and effort to build a backyard playground will be sizable, once you finish the project, your kids will enjoy having their own outdoor entertainment just outside the backdoor.

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