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What does your yard/outdoor area look like?

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#1 JomoMum

Posted 21 May 2020 - 08:20 PM

We have a fair bit of yard that we need to do something with after building a new house 2.5 years ago.
21x9m along the back and 15x6 down the side of the house, in an L shape.

We will put a pool in the corner in a few years when we have more money (ha), but want to make some changes like extending the alfresco, putting in some play equipment (5month old and 6yo DS’s), possibly little sand pit.

We don’t want to spend on things that will be great for 2 years then need to get rid of - It’s hard with the age gap of our boys, but we want to try and plan long term.

What does your yard look like? What features do you have that get a lot of use? Fire pits? Cubby houses?

Please share what you have :)

#2 a letter to Elise.

Posted 21 May 2020 - 08:27 PM

We only have a tiny courtyard, but it’s big enough for a cubby. We’ve gotten a lot of use out of it. We bought it for my oldest who is now 10. My 7 year old and 3 year old still play in it all the time. The 10 year old is a bit too tall, otherwise he’d be in there too!

if I had space, I’d love an out door play kitchen and a sandpit.

for myself, I’ve made a cosy reading spot. I have a swing chair, and a table to hold tea and snacks. I often have my morning coffee out there, or sit with a glass of wine in the evening.

#3 Jingleflea

Posted 21 May 2020 - 08:29 PM

I wouldn't have a fire pit with young kids, not for years!

Sand pit was a big hit, slide(on the grass), and our outdoor table setting.
We don't go out much though to be honest, it's either too hot or too cold here, plus I hate flies!

#4 Jane Jetson

Posted 21 May 2020 - 08:33 PM

Our outdoor area looks like Pripyat.

We have overgrown shrubs and long grass and "decorative" rock borders which are really just a threat to car tyres. DH has finally resigned himself to the fact that he's never going to do anything about it himself, and we're going to get someone to rip out the lot. It will still need to be very easy care.

We're thinking semicircular driveway, and then down the side where the old driveway is, turning that into a courtyard with some 1920s-looking wrought-iron outdoor furniture. The only plant I want to keep is the creeper that goes bright red in autumn, it'll make that courtyard area very nice.

#5 22Fruitmincepies

Posted 21 May 2020 - 08:35 PM

We have a fairly big backyard, and have monkey bars, a trampoline, a good climbing tree, a small cubby that rarely gets used, a small table in a sunny spot that gets a lot of use, a larger table for entertaining (that has only been used for kids parties in recent years) and plenty of lawn for running and ball games. It was a godsend during our time stuck at home! I’ll add we have a larger gap between kids, 3.5 years, and both kids love the trampoline and 2.5yo DS really wants to be able to do the monkey bars himself, but is too small so I spend lots of time helping him on them.

#6 EmmaFY

Posted 21 May 2020 - 09:11 PM

We've got a split level L shaped backyard. It's not huge and we lose some footage due to how it's broken up but it's pretty functional. We have enough space for DS to run around and a place to entertain - which we love to do.

We've got an alfesco, table and chairs and our Weber and pizza oven which gets a lot of use. We've also added a ceiling fan and done some landscaping - low maintenance plants and on the lower level up the back we've put some stone pavers with gravel which is great for our fire pit.

We're planning on getting DS a swing set this year for his birthday or Christmas. Any recommendations would be great.

#7 EmmaFY

Posted 21 May 2020 - 09:14 PM

View PostJingleflea, on 21 May 2020 - 08:29 PM, said:

I wouldn't have a fire pit with young kids, not for years!

Sand pit was a big hit, slide(on the grass), and our outdoor table setting.
We don't go out much though to be honest, it's either too hot or too cold here, plus I hate flies!
Why? Kids learn pretty quickly that the firepit is not a toy and obviously you aren't going to have it going unattended.

Our kiddo is 3 and a half and loves to help us with the wood and roasting marshmallows.

#8 got my tinsel on

Posted 21 May 2020 - 09:57 PM

View PostEmmaFY, on 21 May 2020 - 09:14 PM, said:

Why? Kids learn pretty quickly that the firepit is not a toy and obviously you aren't going to have it going unattended.

Our kiddo is 3 and a half and loves to help us with the wood and roasting marshmallows.

Even if they know it's not a toy, accidents can happen, stumbling and falling onto it etc.

#9 rileys-mum

Posted 21 May 2020 - 10:04 PM

When the kids were younger - outdoor play area, trampoline.
Ripped that out for a pool and basketball ring for primary school years.
Now looking at changing to an outdoor eating area with functional outdoor kitchen for entertaining and parties.

I think that the outdoor space changes with ages and family needs.

#10 Bereckii

Posted 21 May 2020 - 10:08 PM

A mud kitchen would be fun!

#11 Kabu84

Posted 21 May 2020 - 10:11 PM

We have an in-ground trampoline and our kids use it every day! My husband and I use it for exercise too. I love that it just blends into the lawn and doesn’t need a net around it.

Edited by Kabu84, 21 May 2020 - 10:11 PM.

#12 MadMarchMasterchef

Posted 21 May 2020 - 10:16 PM

We have a large yard.
6 raised flowerbeds and a few fruit trees,  a bench section which we plan to grow grape vines over and lavendar around, a grassed area, a section waiting for chooks to go in, and an area with a swingset and trampoline, and lots of native shrubs around the sides.
I love our garden apart from the fact that we may not end up with the chooks so that space is wasted - we are thinking of moving soon so we thought it could put buyers off.

#13 can'tstayaway

Posted 21 May 2020 - 10:48 PM

I now have high schoolers and one primary aged child. We’ve moved houses a few times over the years and have had acreage right down to cbd apartment over that time.

If it’s your forever home, think and plan long term. They are only small for such a short period of time that I wouldn’t recommend investing too much money or energy into something they will outgrow.

We are about to embark on an extension in the next few years and will be removing the swimming pool. It’s perfectly fine but we just don’t use it and it’s smack bang in the middle of all the useable space. Our kid’s have pretty full lives with school and extra curricular activities so we don’t have much time for just swimming at home. Two of my kids are taller than I am (and I’m average height) and they find the (I think) 13m pool too short to be able to swim laps. It’s just not worth the effort for them. We’ve had pools in multiple houses and the only one we’ve actually used was the pool that was a 20m lap pool with swim jets and it came off the living/kitchen area. If the pool is out of sight, I can’t supervise them so no swimming. I also think a pool that is sheltered to be more useful than one in direct sun all day. I was more likely to let the kids use the pool on the SW side of the house at midday because it was shaded. Our current pool gets full northern sun all day so the kids have to swim either early or late to not get burnt.

Some of the best elements of a garden is shaded hard stand with a concrete wall nearby. It’s good when they’re small and learning to ride a trike. Then it is good for handball or tennis with the wall acting as a partner so I’m not constantly being asked to partner them. As they get older again, a basket ball hoop gives hours of practice time if you can stand the bouncing noise. A big deciduous tree gives shade and cooling in summer and lets light and warmth in during winter.

A sandpit was a hit when my kids were younger but I hated the maintenance. We’ve had fancy landscaped rock sandpits and all sorts. The best was the cheap clam shell or timber boat type ones with a lid. Find some sort of locking mechanism (I used a number padlock thingie through drilled holes for the clamshell) to stop an active toddler from moving the sand to another location when you’re too busy to supervise. It also keeps out possums and cats from using it as a toilet. Smaller the better because it’s easy to spread the sand on the lawn (top dressing lol) and replace with a few bags of fresh stuff if it gets too manky. I would tip a few pots of boiling water over the sand every so often, to sanitize it, which is easier with a small sandpit.

Slides, swings and climbing frames. Kids loved them but then out grew them. We had a giant set but it was too big when the kids were little. Then when they grew, the little sets were “boring and babyish”. So look for second hand sets and pass them on when your kids outgrow them. Don’t spend a small fortune on a solid permanent set which then just becomes a frame for spider webs.

Cubby houses. I resisted accepting fancy cubbies as gifts after seeing so many not used and become scary spider and snake hidey holes. We had a plastic Little tikes one that my MIL thought was ugly but the kids (mine and friends) loved it. I set it in a garden bed with safe plants all around and we had plastic crates of kitchen toys and they had a great time playing imagination games. They felt hidden from adults and it was magical to them. I had an English box hedge, camellia shrubs, lavender bushes, lots of various annuals and veggies so they could pick at leaves and flowers to use in their games. I mulched the garden bed with tea tree mulch so it’s soft to fall on and smells alright. Solar fairy lights also adds to the magic. Once the kids outgrew the cubby, I gave it away and the garden bed still looks good.

Trampolines have been great and still used by all ages. I had a one person only rule when jumping but it also gets used as a chill out space. I have always gone for the largest that can fit and the oval shaped ones were good for getting the extra length.

We’ve had fire pits too. We like to cook over fire rather than a gas bbq so the kids have been around fire since they were young. They’ve learned to be careful and are supervised. The design of the fire pit can help minimise risks like having it built up so you can’t fall down into it. You can get mesh dome covers which also help minimise the risks.

A lawn was good when the kids were little but I won’t be having a lawn in my current garden. It’s too small for the big kids who are likely to go across the road to the park if they want to kick a ball around. I prefer a productive garden so have big garden beds that are planted with lots of edibles. The lawn was useful to get sand and dirt off little feet when they were young though. I would choose the species of lawn carefully so it’s nice to play on but requires little maintenance.

Do you have pets?  We have a dog and have always had an area we can pen the dog up securely. It’s for the dog’s safety and their are times when we have guests and it’s more convenient to lock the dog up. It’s shaded with access to water and secure.

After a few dogs over the years, we don’t bother trying to fight the inevitable. Along our fence line is always a dog track. I will have it paved so the dog doesn’t track dirt and mud into the house and I will have an allowance of space before I plant anything.

My family have been hassling me for chooks. We’ve had them previously but I feel they’re at risk here with our neighbors not keeping their cats indoors. Our dog lives inside so the cats have a field day hunting in our yard at night. Even with a secure pen, the chooks would get stressed with a cat trying to attack them.

#14 FuzzyChocolateToes

Posted 21 May 2020 - 11:12 PM

Wouldn't recommend an expensive cubby. Even with 4 kids ours was rarely used.  The trampoline is much more popular.

#15 ~LemonMyrtle~

Posted 22 May 2020 - 06:57 AM

We have
Large under cover deck - used all the time
Large open deck - not used much
Grass - used lots by the kids
Vege patch - my favourite
Garden beds - meh
Large tree - perfect for summer shade
Fruit trees - useful when they’re bigger and producing
Small shrubs - meh
Trampoline and sandpit - used lots
Shed - used lots
Spa - only used in summer
Ninja-line - used a fair bit

We have a 600sq m block, half is house, so our yard isn’t huge, but it’s well designed, we pack a lot into the small space.

#16 ~LemonMyrtle~

Posted 22 May 2020 - 07:02 AM

And we have a fire pit thing. It’s a potable one, it’s quite high and has a big lid. So it’s pretty safe for the kids. You can’t really fall into it. We don’t use it much at all. I don’t like the smoke in a suburban neighbourhood.

Edited by ~LemonMyrtle~, 22 May 2020 - 07:20 AM.

#17 Nickers numbat

Posted 24 May 2020 - 12:55 PM

We have a large hilly block which th lots of outside space. DS is nearly 9. We currently have
- two large outside decks. The one off the living area is used all the time. Other deck is less used but I suspect may be useful in teenage years
- swimming pool which is well utilized for nine months of the year and flows in to our deck
- fort/swing/monkey bars which still gets used a lot
- ninja warrior course which is used extensively
- extra seating area under shaded trees which is used at times over summer. It’s just a long way up to get there. I have aspirations to get a fire pit up there for winter use.
- bush including large rocks which is awesome as kids love to explore and is great for imaginative play.
- we also have a basketball ring which is not well used and a cricket ball on a string which gets lots of use over summer. I imagine we might end up with badminton set or similar as DS gets older.

We have had a cubby in the past which was well used until about 5 years of age.

#18 bearosauraus

Posted 24 May 2020 - 01:04 PM

I live alone with 2 kids.  I have:

Deck with pergola
Couches x 2
Outdoor table with bench seats
wine barrel bar + stools
fire pit
festoon lighting <3
and lots of grass with a driveway down the side - kids ride/scoot/skate/basketball on

#19 YodaTheWrinkledOne

Posted 24 May 2020 - 01:23 PM

We have a large backyard. We have

- chickens (about 70sqm chicken run). Kids love them.

- large garden beds that run each side down the border of the backyard (excluded chicken run up the back against the back fence). The garden beds are around 3m wide. One side of garden beds is exclusively native plants - callistomon, grevilleas, banskia, lots of tanika grasses, a few lilly pilly shrubs for privacy from neighbours, all of that kind of stuff. We planted these from small plants/seedlings and it's been about 6 years now, most are fully grown and it look awesome! The other side of gardens is fruit trees (raised beds), and whatever flowering plants we want. We have solar lighting through the garden beds, so it looks quite nice at night, not just a pitch black hole you look out to.

- large section of grass - gets used a lot by the kids and their friends

- trampoline - still gets used heaps, had it for about 10 years now?

- a deck up the back under a coral tree - very popular spot for reading a book (have two hammock spots up there) or having lunch/snack. When the weather is good, the kids and their friends often spend the day out on the deck (in summer it's under shade, in winter it gets the winter sun)

We also have a good patio area attached to house - 7x8m. That's where we have a outdoor lounge setting, as well as the BBQ. It also has some fairy lights.

Our yard is not complicated.

ETA: One of the best thing is that we have an easy place to send the kids to eat/play with their friends that's outside the house. During school holidays, we can sometimes have 4-8 kids over for a day. I prefer them to eat outside where possible (anything to reduce crumbs on the floor). So the outside deck under the tree serves so many purposes. It's their snack/lunchtime area, but it's also a stage for their performances, and a hangout spot as well. I thought the kids wouldn't use it as much as they got older but if anything, DD1 (13yo) was starting to use it more since she started high school (before COVID 19 lockdown). She and her friends would come home from school, grab some snacks and then head out to the deck and hang out on there with some of the outdoor beanbags (do homework, chat). It's far enough that they have privacy, but not too far if they want a drink or something to eat. Their friends know that whatever plates/cups they take out, they have to bring back into the house.

Edited by YodaTheWrinkledOne, 24 May 2020 - 01:31 PM.

#20 Silverstreak

Posted 24 May 2020 - 01:48 PM

We have a 5 m by 6 m courtyard in our rental, with stairs going up to the garage. The garage is behind a high brick wall and the wall holds our clothesline. We have:

A concreted square about 4 m by 4 m leading from the back sliding door, which houses the 10 ft trampoline.

A paving stone area under the clothesline, that houses some climbing equipment.

A small section of dirt that I probably should do something with, but don't, as DS walks on it.

A wooden cabinet that DH built, that houses a barbecue and lawnmower. Also very handy for balancing the washing basket on when hanging out the washing.

A section of grass running along one side of the courtyard.

A few plants and a small tree along one fence line, next to the grass area.

The trampoline and grass area gets used a lot by DS, the climbing equipment more in summer, although he's getting a bit big for it now and we'll probably get rid of it by the end of the year. It's made of plastic and designed to last until he's 8.

The barbecue is definitely worth it in the summer months.

Once DS' climbing equipment gets thrown out, we might get some outside chairs and a table.

We put in the grass, shrubs and paving stones ourselves, with the landlord's permission, as before that the courtyard was a concrete square surrounded by gravel that was really hard to weed. Crappy landscaping solution.

Whatever you do, don't put down pebbly gravel to fill in areas, it's awful to keep neat!

#21 molinero

Posted 24 May 2020 - 01:55 PM

View Post~LemonMyrtle~, on 22 May 2020 - 07:02 AM, said:

And we have a fire pit thing. It’s a potable one, it’s quite high and has a big lid. So it’s pretty safe for the kids. You can’t really fall into it. We don’t use it much at all. I don’t like the smoke in a suburban neighbourhood.

Lemon Myrtle we also have one of those built up fire pits, one of those ones where the 'pit' detaches from the base.

I bought a bird bath top from bunnings and that sits in the fire pit base when it's not being used as a firepit. The birds may as well get some use out of it.

We are currently working through our landscaping after a new build and there are some interesting ideas on this thread for sure.

#22 blueskies12

Posted 24 May 2020 - 03:21 PM

Great ideas in this thread.

We have a suburban block of 730m.
-A large timber sandpit
-A large undercover patio with bbq and big table and chairs. It is also the space where the kids can ride their bikes and scooters in when the cars are out of the garage, draw with chalk, paint etc.
-We recently bought chickens and so have a pen. They free range a bit during the day.
-Fruit trees: I'd love to add some more paw paw and add some bananas
-Two veg beds; I would love more.
-A trampoline
-A tyre swing  in out the front garden.
-Large grassy area which the dog, chickens and we run around on.
-Outdoor clothes line (saves me a lot with dryer). Would love an undercover one as well.

#23 JomoMum

Posted 24 May 2020 - 03:31 PM

Thank you so much everyone. So many awesome ideas and I agree, it totally depends on space obviously but definitely the age of kids.

We’ve got a big trampoline with net walls and a 4 pce swing set. I’d have loved to replace the swings with one of those ones that has money bars, flying fox etc, but they are so so pricey. DH and I have settled on a basketball attachment for the trampoline for now.

I would love a fire pit area. We currently have a fire pit unit that is easily portable and it put away when not in use. I imagine we’d get one with a detachable top if we made it more permanent.

Yoda I would love a place to send the kids outside to eat as they get older. And it sounds lovely for them to have a space to go to that isn’t in the house with the parents, but still close by and comfortable.

#24 decisionsdecisions

Posted 24 May 2020 - 04:58 PM

View PostEmmaFY, on 21 May 2020 - 09:11 PM, said:

We're planning on getting DS a swing set this year for his birthday or Christmas. Any recommendations would be great.

We bought a Lifespan Wesley Double Swing with trapeze for my 10 year old DD while we were all home for weeks and she was missing the park/school playground.  I wish we has bought one sooner - she is out there all the time.  All of the accessories are adjustable so even though she is 150cm tall there is still room for her to grow into it but equally everything can be lowered for little people. My 6 foot tall 13 year old DS is often out there having a swing too.  Sometimes I even have a go on it.  Each swing accessory is rated to 80kg too so has some built in longevity.

#25 Ivy Ivy

Posted 24 May 2020 - 05:03 PM

Trampoline and pool.  Other things have not been used anywhere near as much as these two.

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