Activities

10 easy backyard play set hacks

Even the best play sets from big box stores can be made a bit more awesome. Here are some personal touches that make your backyard play set extra special.

By Adrienne Brown

10 easy backyard play set hacks

9 easy backyard play set hacks

Install a mailbox

Few things are more novel to kids than receiving good-old-fashioned mail. Paint and decorate a mailbox, then attach it to the side of their play set where they can reach it easily. Or find a standalone box you can install in the ground. Be sure to slip a postcard or letter inside every so often.



More inspiration here: Dirt Digging Sisters


10 easy backyard play set hacksPhoto: Dirt Digging Sisters

Roll out a welcome mat

If your play set has a door to a closed-off kitchen or clubhouse, amp up the curb appeal with a welcome mat. Most outdoor mats are sized for grown-up front doors, but that doesn’t mean the right design can’t be trimmed down to size. Alternatively, pick up a plain coir mat and have your kids stencil or paint on their own designs.



Where to buy: $33, bedbathandbeyond.ca


10 easy backyard play set hacksPhoto: Kikkerland

Get wet!

A water wall attached directly to a play set might be the ticket to saving space and keeping play areas contained. Make it as simple or elaborate as you dare. Two-storey play sets add height, as long as your kids don’t have to lean too far over the side to watch their water snake its way to the bottom. Always double check that your play set can handle the extra weight of the wall.



More inspiration here: Mama OT


10 easy backyard play set hacksPhoto: Mama OT

..or keep them busy

For younger kids, think sensory activities—bits and bobs they can move and touch like chain locks, switches, steering wheels and mirrors—on any solid wall. Adapt any sensory board type activity to the outside world (remember Mother Nature can be harsh!) 



More inspiration here: Young House Love


10 easy backyard play set hacksPhoto: Young House Love

Add planters

Nothing says “home sweet home” like fresh flowers! You can DIY with just wood and screws or buy baskets or planters fit to your window size. No window? No problem. Try a round pot on the ground instead. Either way, let your kids choose the flowers they want to plant and if you don’t have a little green thumb on your hands, opt for fake flowers that will add a care-free splash of colour all season long. And don’t forget to remind the kiddies to water the flowers.


10 easy backyard play set hacksPhoto: Pinterest

Install a rain barrel

OK, adding a rain barrel may sound complicated (and like a job for a contractor), but it’s actually quite simple to do. A short piece of eaves trough and a downspout connected to a mini barrel (a clean water jug or detergent container would work well because they already have spigots) is adorable and functional. Situate it high enough so your kids can hold a watering can underneath the on-off spout to collect the water they need to care for their flowers.



Where to buy: $120 USD, expressyourselfrainbarrels.com


10 easy backyard play set hacksPhoto: Express Yourself Rain Barrels

Make a sign for the door

There’s no better way to personalize any space than with a monogrammed or personalized sign. Make it a family craft activity to create your own, then hang it where everyone can see. If you can’t decide what you want yours to say, a chalkboard sign can be changed over and over.



More inspiration here: Her Tool Belt


10 easy backyard play set hacksPhoto: Her Tool Belt

Add a rock climbing wall

Monkey bars are so last year! Give your little monkeys their own rock wall to scale by adding the rocks to your wooden ladder. You can choose how to space the rocks based on your kids’ abilities—and how high you want them to go. Safety first!



Where to buy: $69, mec.ca


10 easy backyard play set hacksPhoto: MEC

Raise a flag

This is one of the easiest ways to personalize a set. If your set comes with a vinyl flag, cover it with your own decals or designs. Or replace the flags entirely. Flags designed to attach inside car windows work well and you can find them for most countries as well as different sports teams.



More inspiration here: Dads With Deals


10 easy backyard play set hacksPhoto: Dads With Deals

Give them a ring

Ding-dong! Kids love ringing doorbells, so give them one at their height so they can ring all day long. It’s up to you whether you simply screw a plate and button, sans sound effects, near the front door, or if you're brave and can handle the ring, ring, ring of a classic metal dinner bell.



Where to buy: $35, jeuxmodulair.ca


10 easy backyard play set hacksPhoto: Les Jeux Modul'Air

Read more: Best indoor playgrounds Would you buy a backyard trampoline?
How to go camping in your backyard

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