Carving out a Play Space in our Front Yard

Posted by Liz McCoy Wednesday, October 3, 2012

One of the criteria for us in finding a house was a big yard minimum 1 acre. When I grew up I remember having ample amounts of space to run, play, explore and enjoy the outside. We found that in this house however a majority of usable space was in the front yard.


Since we’re putting an in-law suite in a majority of the basement, we see the back yard as more of their yard than ours. Plus we don’t have plans to install a fence for a while so the drop off is pretty steep and we’d prefer not having to worry about the kids getting hurt or loosing toys into the woods.


When we first saw the house we thought the woods off to the left of the garage might one day make a cool play space. It was majorly overgrown and definitely looked like A TON OF WORK, not to mention it was summer in Georgia who wants to take on major yard projects in 90 degree temps? Not this pregnant lady.


Front of our house


We moved all the outdoor toys and just kind of parked them randomly in the front of the house near the driveway. It was not a very pretty site to pull up to each day. Of course the kids made due with what was out and they played as much as they could.





A week after we moved in my mom scored us some free mulch. I had the tree cutting crew deposit the load at the end of the driveway off to the side. It was a HUGE load of mulch. We knew we wanted this for the playground area and for other parts of the property.
We kept it semi covered with a tarp over the last couple months (wet mulch is so much heavier and harder to move).

My dad, our general contractor for our basement build out, needed that spot to put a construction dumpster for the upcoming project. So moving this mulch was the priority and what spurred the whole project.




A few weeks ago my husband took the mower up into the wooded area and did a rough cutting to kind of see what potential was there. 20120922_094212

That is where we started with the project yesterday. It took my mom, my dad, my husband and our friend Dan 3 hours to clean out the space of vines, little saplings, dead bushes, and some miscellaneous trash. I worked on cleaning up and drying out the kid’s inflatable waterslide.






After the area was cleaned out we started to haul the mulch, and spread it about 4-6 inch deep across the area. Dan left after lunch and it took the rest of us all afternoon to finish the job.  Dad and my hubby would load up the cart with pitch forks and I would drive the tractor up to the play area dump it and and mom would spread it out the with the rake. It was a good team approach and allowed for everyone to have rest breaks through out the process.



I thought the baby might pop out with how bumpy it got riding the tractor, but the baby wasn’t interested in coming out just yet.


Mom, Dad, and hubby set out all the playground equipment and I went to pick up the kids from mom’s house and we had a mini reveal.  Both kids were super excited to have the play equipment cleaned, set out and play-able! The adults were super proud to have accomplished so much in one day.



outdoor play space


The  stacked stone walls were unearthed in the digging and they added more stones they found through out the space to build up the walls a bit more.  I’ve purchased some flower pots to flank either side and make that the main entrance into the play space.  Incase your wondering the blue swimming pool is the kid’s gravel pit where they use the excavators and bulldozers to dig around in river rock gravel.  The whole space is like being in a park in the last week since having this set up they have played in it nearly every day!


We still have some more long term goals for this space:

  • First and foremost being the pirate ship and getting it staked into the ground and a new mast put up
  • We also have more space to expand into and build the kiddo’s treehouse
  • Install a swing set and/or rope swing
  • We’re dreaming about putting in a nature trail through the back and out the side to give more interest and adventure.
  • Add an arbor or sign for the entry into the space

Many thanks to all the hard work of my parents, my hard working hubby, and our friend Dan.  The kids are thrilled I am thrilled and I can’t wait to see this space evolve and develop further.


So have you tackled any yard projects yet this fall?  Do you have anything on your todo list?  I’d love to hear about your current projects and goals!

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