Backyard Playgrounds: To Build or Not to Build
You've got the kids and you've got the backyard. But unlike when you were a kid, there are a whole lot of distractions inside the house between tablets and video games and YouTube that can easily tempt a child to stay inside all day. It seems mind boggling that it's a struggle to get a child to go play outside, when your own childhood was spent arguing that you should get to stay outside just a little bit longer. But rest assured, once you tempt them out there and they start having fun, you'll soon have the same problem your own parents had getting you to come back inside. One of the best ways to get the fun to commence is to build a great playground right in the backyard.
What Are the Benefits of Building a Backyard Playground?
Beyond simply getting the kids to actually make use of the backyard, playgrounds provide great exercise for kids. They can also be a great way to foster a community in the neighborhood. Kids might be playing video games online with their friends, but all that screen time can be isolating and is not the same thing as playing in real time. If you build your playground right, all the kids will want to come over to play.
What Are the Dangers of Building a Backyard Playground?
But not everything is good with the backyard playground. The CDC estimates that 200,000 children under 14 end up in the emergency room each year as a result of injuries on playgrounds.
Why can a home playground be so dangerous? One reason is (predictably) incorrect installation, inadequate anchoring, or poor planning that fails to provide adequate safety standards. Another more surprising reason is that parents can be lulled into a false sense of a security with the familiar surroundings that a home playground provides. When taking your child to the local park, you might be in habit of carefully watching them as they test their limits on the equipment. But when you're in your own backyard, it's easy to forget that there are any potential dangers.
This is why it's vital to carefully plan your home playground. Whether it's installed by a professional or by you, triple check that everything is done right and don't forget to check that all equipment is in good order and properly maintained every week. Additionally, carefully watch your kids as they explore the new equipment until you're confident that it's completely safe.
How Much Will It Cost?
This is not a simple answer. Of course, a great deal depends on whether or not you choose to go the DIY route or have it professionally installed. Even choosing DIY, there's a great deal of variation, as for a DIY playground, most people choose to purchase a kit (which will still require a great deal of work and likely some power tools to install). There's also the option of buying a used kit. But as a general rule of thumb, a fully installed playground will come in at around $3,000. Most homeowners report having spent $200 on the low end and $900 on the higher end with an average of $500 on buying and installing their playgrounds and swing sets. It's also important to budget not just for the cost of the equipment, but for properly prepping the ground where it's going to be installed. It's vital for safety to do this correctly, but can also be the most expensive part of the project.
DIY or Installed?
In terms of the traditional playground, the answer to this has a lot to do with whether or not you'd like to spend $3,000 on the playground and what your own DIY capabilities are. But if $3,000 on a playground isn't for you (nor the extensive use of a power saw) why not consider some untraditional playgrounds? You might find something that you and your kids love more than the usual swingset.
Playgrounds That Think Outside the Sandbox
- Build a musical fence
- The classic tire swing
- A campground of kid-sized tents
- A chalkboard on a wall or fence. All it takes is some chalkboard paint and a surface you can paint on.
- A few cans of spraypaint and some grass and you can make your own backyard Twister game.