Family Fun in the Backyard Sun

Designer Kimberly Ryder works her magic to create a family-friendly play space with an eco-friendly twist that's all about running, jumping, playing and exploring.

  • It's time for summer fun. This boring yard doesn't inspire the family or their friends to spend any time outside. By removing a patch of the grass, a play area begins to take shape.
  • This makeover screams fun in the sun. No longer drab and dull, this yard is all about good times.
  • This area of the lawn doesn't drain very well, which makes it the perfect place to create a fern grotto. The logs behind are sunk into large holes to make climbing on them fun and safe.
  • Place a wine barrel over a foundation of bricks, and then fill the barrel bottom with more bricks. Add a pump and a bamboo spout and you've got instant ambiance.
  • Recycled flip-flop mats are a colorful way to soften a concrete pad and create a game area for kids to play on. They're nice and squishy, connect easily with zip ties and just good fun.
  • Attach plumber's straps to a tree trunk, and then add decorative house numbers to mark each foot. It's a great way to chart the growth of even the biggest kid.
  • Music is fun for kids of all ages and this outdoor xylophone strikes just the right note. Add more all-weather instruments and you're ready to rock.
  • Recycled wine barrels attached with leather straps make a unique climb-through. Use a utility knife to cut a camping mat and nail the pieces to the bottoms so kids won't hurt their knees.
  • Don't let a backyard corner go unused — make it a stage by day and a sunset deck by night. Build a triangular deck to enjoy the view at night and add a shower rod and curtain for daytime performances. Use extra lumber to build a costume box to hold props.
  • Add more natural elements to your yard by using recycled tumbled glass mulch. It gives the look and feel of moving water and the tumbled edges make it safe to walk on.
  • Lay the groundwork for a patio living area using carpet tape to hold six woven straw mats made from recycled plastic bottles together for one large outdoor rug.
  • Repurpose an old hope chest into a cooler by adding insulation and caulk to waterproof it, a drain and a bottle opener. A vibrant painted finish makes it fresh and fantastic.
  • Another great recycling idea is making bean bag chairs out of fabulous vintage fabric.
  • A side table cleverly lit with a high-intensity lamp clipped to the base adds drama to its heating-register topper.

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