BUILD it, don’t BUY it. How to build a great backyard for kids without breaking the bank

BUILD it, don’t BUY it. How to build a great backyard for kids without breaking the bank

As we head towards the end of the year the weather is hopefully on the improve and it’s time to head back out into the backyard and with such a focus on the importance of nature play, risk taking and getting dirty (which we love) we’ve come up with some really easy and inexpensive ways to turn your backyard into a place the kids can’t wait to play in.

Outdoor play is so important for many reasons. It benefits child health in many ways, not only the more obvious gross and fine motor skills, but also eye sight. Children adore being outdoors and learn through play. What better way to build your child’s creativity, co-operation, problem-solving and persistence than through outdoor play?

Build a backyard mud kitchen

The kids at “Carlene’s Cubbyhouse” spend hours creating all sorts of masterpieces, potions and mud recipes in their mud kitchen

The one pictured above is pretty special, complete with a double sink with tap (bigger than my own at home) hooks for pots and pans and plenty of bench space for brewing potions, making chinos, and whipping up a mud pie. You don’t have to go as large scale as this one though. Plastic buckets make great sinks, old pots and pans you can pick up from any op shops as well as spoons and bowls for mud kitchen “cooking”.

Backyard Car Racing Track


I saw this awesome idea on where you can find all the instructions on how to build your very own backyard car racing track. This a great weekend project to work on together. Design your track, how many lanes do you need, what shape will it be, will it have a jump? Then find bits and pieces around the house to use for landscaping. I love this one!

Make a Fairy Garden


The conversations and imaginary play that happens when my daughter plays “fairies” makes me smile every time I catch her. She’s got names for the all, writes little letters to them and is constantly rearranging and redecorating their area. Another great idea from is turning a broken pot plant into a magical Fairy Garden, great for those with small gardens or apartment living.

And if you’re after Fairy Garden accessories there’s no better place to look than our friends at The Fairy Door Store. A gorgeous online store full of Fairy and Elf doors and accessories. I love the starter packs containing everything you need to get started on your own Fairy Garden.

Fairy gardens are the best.

Turn a broken pot into a fairy garden!
Turn a broken pot into a fairy garden! Photo from

Bird Feeders and a Nesting Box

Late last year our family made a number of different bird feeders and we have had fantastic results with heaps of native parrots coming to feast daily since then. You can check out more info and images on 3 easy DIY bird feeders show below click here.  In addition to those easy homemade bird feeders, we have just downloaded these plans to build our own native bird nesting boxes. Getting these made and installed in early Spring gives a good chance for the local parrots to move in and nest before laying eggs in the next few months (usually Septemeber to December).

Tyres, Planks, Sticks, Rocks and Bricks

Photo from Carlene’s Cubbyhouse

Endless opportunities for using imagination to build a forte, or a rocket or a boat or my daughter loves to build obstacle tracks to balance, jump and tip toe her way around the garden. Most of these things you can find around the home, and if you’re after tyres pop into your local tyre store and ask if they have any old ones to giveaway. Apparently they pay to have them removed so are normally more than happy to give you a few to take home.

Loose Parts Play

Photo from Carlene’s Cubbyhouse

OK this one is EASY, but is always such a winner. Start yourself up a big plastic tub and FILL it with a bit of EVERYTHING! An old telephone, marbles, plastic pipes, tape, pipe cleaners and watch the kids go to town with all sorts of creative, imaginative play. This one can also be brought inside on a rainy day, but everything’s more fun out in the sunshine right?

Make a Muddy Puddle

Photo from Carlene’s Cubbyhouse

Dirt + Hose = MUD!
Get those shoes and socks off and get stomping in your very own mud patch.

Sandpits are fun


There are lots of great ideas for making your own backyard sandpit area. They don’t always require any actual building either. Grab a cheap plastic wading pool from your local discount store and fill it with sand. Can be located anywhere you like, be brought undercover in bad weather, and also covered with a fitted sheet to keep in clean when not in use! Kmart have a 2 part clam shell for under $30. Fill one half with sand and one half with water, then tip the water and use it as a lid when you’re done!

If you want to get a bit DIY check out Bunnings step by step guide on building your own permanent sandpit.  You can also bury hidden treasures or dinosaur bones to be excavated.

For more ideas check out PINTEREST for a huge amount of backyard play space inspo. Oh Pinterest, what would we do without you! A big thank you to Carlene’s Cubbyhouse for many of the photos used in this post, another online spot for lots of great ideas, articles and ideas for getting your kids outside and active.

Blog post by Kids in Adelaide
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