The backyard is a kid’s safe haven. When the days heat up, everyone will be heading outside, so now is the time to get your backyard makeover going. With these easy DIY ideas you can turn your ho-hum backyard into a kid-friendly oasis of fun. Get the kids involved in building a gnome home, setting up the Giant Jenga and outfitting the mud kitchen. There’s so much fun just waiting outside!

photo: Sara Olsher

1. Add some magic with a fairy garden.

Tiny chairs, mini teacups and some succulents will get you on your way to making an awesome backyard fairy garden. You can even use all those extra LEGO bricks you have around the house to make a mini house for your fairies to live in. 

2. Bring in the birds.

How many different kinds of birds come to visit your yard each day? Build some DIY bird feeders and get your amateur birdwatchers out there to see what might fly in. There's even one made out of, you guessed it, LEGO bricks. 

3. Harness the wind.

Wind chimes are a fun DIY craft that adds some pizzazz to a yard. Bust out some paint, extra silverware, egg cartons or even paperclips and you are on your way to creating an awesome wind chime. 

4. Add some butterfly-friendly plants.

Planting native flowering plants is a great way to encourage butterflies to come into your yard. Stay away from pesticides and try plants like lavender, flowering rosemary, milkweed and whatever else is recommended by your local garden center. 

5. Set up an obstacle course.

With just a few objects snagged from around the house, your backyard can become an obstacle course for aspiring American Ninja Warriors. Set up a balance station, do a somersault through a hula hoop, do three spins before you throw a ball through a loop and more. Grab an inexpensive stopwatch so they can practice improving their time.

6. Craft a bug catcher and collect bugs.

Keep budding entomologists as merry as crickets with a cool bug catcher (that you can make at home). Then, send them outside to fill it up with all kinds of crawling critters.

photo: Jennifer Pilcher

7. Create a home for a gnome.

The Travelocity gnome might stop by for a visit if you’ve built a wee home in the side of a tree, it’s that irresistible. A mini door—easily found where miniatures are sold—rocks, twigs and other teeny tiny items create a welcome spot for those ground dwellers. Check out some gnome inspo here

8. Make a mud kitchen.

Give the kids the freedom to get messy with their very own mud kitchen. Sinks, scoopers, funnels and colanders are perfect additions to this station where they can make mud and learn to wash it off. Don't want the mess? Make it a bubble kitchen with soapy water or use colored shaving cream for sensory play. 

9. Art. Always, art.

Set up a backyard chalkboard to allow for opportunities to create art. Whether they are drawing the birds coming to the yard, tracing their hands and making them into people or playing tic tac toe, a backyard chalkboard is a cheap investment for hours of play. 

photo: iStock

10. Plant some fruits and veggies.

Teach the kids where their food comes from by including them in all the steps of a backyard garden from seed to stomach. Learn what plants do well in your area, buy seeds, add your soil amendments and get planting. A backyard garden is a labor of love and will give kids a better appreciation for the food on their table. 

 

11. Set up a spot for an outdoor movie night.

There's nothing that screams summer more than outdoor movie night. Get your projector set up, spread out the blankets and pop that popcorn. We've got the full scoop on what you'll need over here

photo: Jillian Leslie via Catch My Party

12. Up your kiddie pool game.

While these are traditionally used for splashing babies, there are endless ways you can transform your kiddie pool. Think about making it a sandbox, a water table or a dinosaur digging station. 

13. Make a music wall.

Grab those earplugs. It’s true, the noise coming from a music wall like this one we found over at Suzy Homeschooler might be a tad loud, but the sound of your kiddo’s happy laughter will be sweet music to your ears. The upcycled wood, toys and tins make different sounds, look way cool and are all budget finds. Head over to Suzy Homeschooler to find out how to make your own version.

14. Paint some rocks.

We love the addition of painted rocks to a backyard because it's super easy to do, and you can always repaint them when you want. Use them to mark your veggies, add some happy faces around the yard or create your own backyard creatures use in a game of hide and go seek. 

15. Set up a reading nook.

A hammock, a big blanket or even a chair under an umbrella are great spots to set up a backyard reading nook. The kids will get some fresh air while they practice their reading comprehension skills—double win!

16. Make use of your trees.

Trees provide endless options for awesome backyards. You can add a tire swing or a hugglepod, strap up a slackline to work on balance or use it as the base of your tree fort. 

17. Go big or go home.

Set up oversized backyard games like Giant Jenga or Connect 4. We especially love this Giant Snakes and Ladders. It's an awesome game for little ones as it's super easy to use (and think of how cute they'll look playing with the huge game pieces!)? 

18. Set up your sprayground.

A giant water inflatable is just the thing you need when the temps creep up. Turn on the hose, get the kids in their swimsuits and let them run through the water all afternoon. 

 

—Kate Loweth, Abigail Matsumoto & Gabby Cullen

RELATED STORIES

Epic Inflatables to Transform Your Yard into a Child’s Paradise

11 Obstacle Courses for Kids That You Can Set Up at Home

10 Outdoor Art Projects That Are Easy to Clean Up

20 Sidewalk Science Projects to Try Outside Today