Coax the Kids Outside with These Five Backyard Additions

It's no surprise to parents that children need regular exercise in order to grow up healthy. The Centers for Disease Control recommends that most kids and adolescents should get about an hour of physical activity every day. But it can be hard to get some kids outside to play and be active. If you struggle with this as a parent, there are some inventive ways you can use your yard's layout and design to encourage your kids to be outdoors getting exercise without interfering with the beautiful space. Here are five ideas for any size yard.

Double-Duty Trampoline. A trampoline set up near the house can serve two purposes: be a daytime play area for kids and an evening relaxation spot. Design a backing (such as a curved horizontal fencing material or a hard mesh material) that surrounds about 2/3 of the trampoline. A backing not only helps keep kids from hurting themselves on the trampoline but also provides a place for you to lean back and relax to watch the stars or sip some wine. Accent with large, fluffy pillows for back support and comfort.

Tumbling Mat. If your kids have a propensity for backyard handstands and cartwheels, why not install a tumbling mat along a fence line? The mat can be designed to fit in with surrounding landscaping using bushes (without spines, of course!) and a soft mulch or pea gravel border. Be sure the mat is placed so that you can easily see it from the house or patio.

Mini-Golf. Carve out some space to install a small putting green off the patio or deck to give your young golfers a place to practice on their own. A putting green can occupy an unused corner of the yard or an area that doesn't get a lot of sun so that plants don't grow well. Use artificial turf of two different kinds to create a verdant and easy-to-maintain golfing haven. 

Playhouse. A playhouse is a timeless childhood getaway. Design one out of a shed or build your own to your child's specifications. Make the playhouse fit into the backyard landscaping by using colors, trim, architecture, and style that match the main house. 

Small Court. A scaled-down version of whatever sport your child likes can often be fit into your backyard. A basketball court, for example, need only be the width of a driveway in order to provide hours of entertainment for your child and his or her friends. Make the concrete court complement the surrounding landscaping by including stamped concrete pavers leading to it or building a concrete patio nearby that can be accessorized for entertaining. Don't want a lot of concrete in the yard? How about a permanent mini soccer field or a cove for racquetball? Look for ways to build a tiny version of any sporting setup to encourage your kids to have fun outside. 

You don't have to sacrifice yard design in order to get a place for the kids to enjoy themselves. The key is to create a space that's dedicated to that activity and blend it in with your overall design. If you're not sure how to do this, it might be a good idea to work with a qualified landscaping service that can help you have the best of both worlds. And in the end, both you and your fun-loving kids will be able to enjoy the great outdoors more easily. 

Visit sites such as to find a landscaper near you.