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HomeArchive100 Days ARCHIVESummer Fun, Day 10: Create a nature play space in your backyard

Summer Fun, Day 10: Create a nature play space in your backyard

If you are thinking of putting in a playground in your backyard this summer, consider creating a nature play space instead.

Using items like big rocks for climbing, tree stumps for sitting and hopping, and small, cut down trees to make balance beams, what more fun can kids have?

Nature play spaces are an economical, fun, and imaginative way to make a play area for your kids, who love climbing and digging in the dirt.

Backyard play Web

Tips to creating your own nature play space

  • Natural play space resourcesTrust in nature—The best places for play have already been designed by nature, so take a close look at what already exists in your yard.
  • Include digging and building—The most engaging elements of a nature play spaces are sand and dirt to dig in as well as loose parts — piles of sticks and branches that kids can use to build and create.Incorporate secret places. A circle of grasses, a thicket of shrubs or a willow tree are all appealing spots for kids who love to hide.
  • Create a path that leads to something—Stepping stones can help guide children to a specific part of the yard.
  • Turn on the water—Water features, in the form of a fountain or creek bed, promise hours of entertainment. Don’t have the room? Set up a mud pie station near a spigot. It may be messy, but your kids will thank you for it.
  • Don’t forget a place to relax—kids love to will lay in a hammock for hours and just look up at the trees,” Dieguez says.


Visit the following organizations’ websites for additional tips to create your own nature play space or to learn more.

Green Hearts Institute for Nature in Childhood has a parents’ guide for incorporating more nature play.

7 nature play spaces in the Baltimore-Annapolis area. A list of parks and nature centers that have nature play spaces.

The Department of Natural Resources has a video on nature play spaces.

The Wild Child, Julie Dieguez’s Annapolis design firm, specializes in nature play and outdoor classrooms.

Early Space is a Washington, D.C., area landscape design firm that specializes in natural play spaces.

Adapted from Katie Riley’s 2016 article.

Bridge photo courtesy of Early Space

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