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20 Plants for a Family-Friendly Backyard

Hold the phone! Plant shade trees, flowers and snack-sized edibles to give the fam a reason to put down their devices and enjoy their own backyard.

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Photo: Ball Ingenuity

Zinnia 'Zesty'

Dirty kids are happy kids. Let yours help you plant a backyard garden with something for everyone. Zinnia seeds are easy for little hands to handle and sprouts pop up in about a week. Zinnia 'Zesty Mix' produces big, double flowers in pink, scarlet, yellow, white and other colors. These annuals grow to 24" tall.

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Sugar Maple

If your backyard is blistering hot, add some shade with a maple tree (Acer spp.). Fast-growing sugar maples are sun-lovers that put on a spectacular fall show when the leaves turn red, orange and yellow. They're hardy in USDA Zones 3-8 and mature at 50' to 80' feet tall with a 30' to 60' spread. You can also find smaller maples for small yards.

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Photo: Burpee Plants

Pepper 'Mardi Gras Fun Purple'

These sweet peppers are just the right size for picking and munching in the garden. 'Mardi Gras Fun' peppers come in eye-popping orange, purple, red and yellow. This new variety takes full sun and can be grown in the ground or in large containers on your deck or patio. The plants grow 18" to 30" tall and party on through summer's heat and humidity.

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Photo: Star Roses and Plants

Acacia 'Cousin Itt'

If you watched TV in the '60s, you'll recognize the name of this plant. Acacia 'Cousin Itt' has long, finely textured foliage, like its namesake, a hairy character on The Addams Family series. This low-maintenance, evergreen shrub is fun to touch and useful to grow on a shaded slope, in a rock garden or other dry area. Hardy in Zones 9-11, it's also a good container plant.

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