Have you been thinking about creating a natural backyard playground, but you aren't sure exactly where to start? Have you done some research already, but you want to make sure you find as many fun ideas as possible before breaking ground? If either of these questions applies to you, this post on natural playground ideas will certainly come in handy. Natural playscapes are a great addition to any backyard, and sometimes all you need is a little inspiration to get the ball rolling.


white and brown wooden bench near body of water during daytime


Developmental Benefits of Playgrounds

Outdoor play spaces are incredible places for children to experiment, learn, and grow. Children often exist in their own worlds, and allowing them to climb, run, and jump in their natural environment is an excellent way to encourage imagination and build social skills.

Historically, conventional playgrounds have been some of the best places for children to develop. Between making new friends and developing their social skills to having a safe place to expel their energy and develop gross motor skills, local parks and playgrounds are great for children.

While school playgrounds are often a great place for your children to prosper, sometimes the greatest playgrounds are just natural play areas in your own backyard. People have begun to prioritize privacy more than ever. If you want to create a safe outdoor space that aids in your child's development, a good idea may just be to add a play structure or two in your own backyard.


Why Should You Build a Natural Playground in Your Backyard?

In recent years, natural has become one of the most common buzzwords. From beauty products to clothing materials, to common grocery store items and the building materials used to construct a home, there has been a major push toward using natural things over artificial things.

There are many reasons for this. From a sustainability standpoint, the excess use of plastics and other similar materials has had a damaging impact on the environment. From a health standpoint, many of the artificial materials that manufacturers have been using are toxic to humans, and especially children.

One of the best things about natural play spaces is that they are usually made of natural resources. These natural elements, like wood and large rocks, tend to have fewer sharp edges, more vastly different textures, and less toxic substances than standard playground equipment.

Beyond just that, natural playgrounds often encourage more imaginative play, by incorporating balance beams and other structures into the surrounding landscape. While a typical neighborhood playground surrounded by a chain link fence is a fine place to take your children, nothing beats having what is essentially an outdoor classroom in your own backyard.


brown tree trunk on green grass field

Creative Ideas for a Backyard Natural Playground

When designing a natural playground, it is important to think about how the structures fit into the natural features of your land. This is often the role of a landscape architect, who can often come up with amazing ways to design nature play spaces that blend right in with the natural landscape. While a professional can build a plan specific to your backyard, we've put together a list of great ideas you can incorporate into your backyard natural playground.

While you don't need a huge backyard, some of the natural playground building blocks on this list do require a fair amount of space and may not be suitable for small yards.


1. Use Tree Stumps as Stepping Stones

One key skill that children learn while on a playground is balance. Learning how to shift their weight from one foot to another and balance a couple of feet off of the ground is a key part of early childhood development, and stepping stones help them to realize that there are consequences if they fall.

Using trimmed tree stumps instead of large plastic or metal pieces is a creative way to weave your outdoor play area into the natural world around it. While the vivid colors of plastic pieces may be helpful in very early childhood cognitive development, natural materials often help to spur an older child's imagination more effectively. One of the best ways to encourage open-ended play with older children is to use structures and toys that seem to blend in with their surroundings.


2. Create a Water Table

While stepping stones are great for improving gross motor skills, water features teach children how to interact with other forms of matter while simultaneously cultivating hand-eye coordination. While brands like Fisher Price sell many different plastic water tables, there are lots of ways that you can build one yourself from natural resources if you have a little time.

A water table is essentially a table built to hold a small pool of water in its center. More complex natural water tables may include miniature aqueduct systems, a miniature water slide, and even a waterfall.

When building a water table, you only want to leave a few inches deep of space for the water to fill. Deep water is dangerous for children, even up to several years of age. Water tables teach small children the properties of water, gravity, currents, and buoyancy.


3. Build a Sensory Garden

A sensory garden can be beneficial for both children and adults. Essentially, a sensory garden is a garden that stimulates as many senses as possible. While flowers are always visually stimulating, sensory gardens incorporate ways to stimulate the senses of smell, sound, touch, and even taste.

Children are often hyperstimulated by artificial stimuli in today's day and age. From loud toys to endless screen time, children often receive sensory overload. While the goal of a sensory garden is to stimulate all of the senses, it should do so in a natural and calming way.

For example, you may plant bright flowers, plant flowers with a pleasing aroma, use speakers to play subtle calming music, plant fruit to snack on, and use pebbles to pave the walkways.


4. Hang a Tire Swing

Tire swings are a classic example of outdoor activities that repurpose free things in different ways. Old tires are often given away for free once the treads wear out, and the only other inputs you need are rope and a tree!

While small children may not be able to use a tire swing, it is likely to be a new favorite for any older kids you have. Hanging a tire swing doesn't take much time at all, and it is an affordable and fun way to encourage your kids to get some fresh air outside. Obviously not every yard has a good place to hang a tire swing, but if your yard has a tall enough tree, this project is about as easy and rewarding as it gets.

vehicle tire swing


5. Design an Obstacle Course

Building an obstacle course in your backyard is a great way to encourage healthy competition and exploration among your children. If you get creative, you can design an obstacle course that provides your children with plenty of opportunities to develop, while also enabling them to have a great time with each other or with friends.

Playing alone isn't usually as much fun as playing with others, and obstacle courses are a great way for children to learn both teamwork and competition.


6. Add a Mud Kitchen

A mud kitchen is a pseudo-kitchen where children can pretend to cook and create. Cultivating a child's imagination is crucial to their development, and mud kitchens allow them to take "ingredients" from their surroundings and turn them into creations of their own. While you obviously don't want to eat a pie made of mud, leaves, and grass, mud kitchens encourage free play that spurs longer-term creativity as your children grow.


Thank you for reading our post on building a natural playground in your yard. Hopefully, this post has inspired you to take the initiative and build a sustainable and fun natural playground in your backyard. Natural playgrounds are great for both your children and the environment, and they don't need to cost an arm and a leg, either.

As realtors, we love helping people to find their own space. When you own property, you can truly build your own world on it. With children, this means you can unlock a world of opportunity and growth, all in your own backyard.

Homeownership puts you in greater control of your life and situation, and this control is especially handy when you have children. After all, you can't make permanent alterations, like some aspects of a natural playground, to a property that you rent!


If you decide to visit Myrtle Beach or any other place in South Carolina and fall in love, reach out to us for help. We at The Boyd Team are always here to help you figure out whether Myrtle Beach is your next home or not, and we are committed to helping you find the right property for your needs and dreams. Any question that you have about moving to the area and finding your dream home by the beach is our pleasure to answer. Feel free to send us an email at eddie@boydteam.com or text or call us at (843) 222-8566, and we will get back to you as soon as we can. Being true natives of the Grand Strand and Horry County and with over 25 years of experience in the local real estate market, whether buying or selling, we can help you make your dreams a reality.  

No One Knows The Grand Strand Better! Trust, Knowledge, Experience, Professionalism, You Can Count On!