When I first started transforming my flat, boring, soggy yard into my Play Garden, my goals were for it to be fun and engaging for children, interesting and comfortable for adults, and beautiful for everyone. I wanted it to feel natural, and be a haven for bees and butterflies. I also wanted to grow fruits, vegetables, and other edibles. So when I got started brainstorming for my own yard, the first place I went was Pinterest. Allow me to share the boards I made with you! If you live nearby, I also invite you to enroll in my parent-child classes. Find lots more photos and class info here. If you would like to come and visit my Play Garden (whether you live nearby or not), send me an email. Spring bulbs are blooming now, but the most beautiful time is July,
when it’s a riot of blooms. And now…back to inspiration photos!
Outdoor Play Spaces
For ideas on play structures, play houses, sand boxes, and more, I put together this board called Outdoor Play (click on the name of the board to open it in a new tab). Based partly on the inspiration I got from this board, I incorporated a play space with sand on one side and pea gravel on the other, and a fire pit in the sandy area. I made a Play Hill with slides set into the soil and a tunnel running through it, and a fun play house. I don’t have room for all of the great photos of my space here, but all of the ones in this post are from my Play Garden.
Bringing Whimsy to the Garden
For whimsical decorations that would encourage imaginative play, I put together this board I called Playful Gardening. From its inspiration, I added shells in the sandy play area, animal statues, vintage Tonka trucks, a fairy garden, and more.
For inspiration on ways to make the space comfortable for adults while the children play, I made a board I called Garden Nooks. I’m still working on making more grown-up nooks in my yard, but we started with a pergola and comfy, adult-sized seating. I also put in full-sized picnic tables with cantilevered umbrellas for us to eat our snacks.
For my vision of edibles, I created two boards. The first was this one that features edible landscaping and fun structures for food plants, which I called Kitchen Garden.
Based on this inspiration, I put in a series of archways between two rows of raised beds. This forms a “tunnel” that you walk through to get from the house to the yard. For some reason my computer won’t let me upload this photo, so check back in a few days and see if I’ve been able to figure it out.
I also made a Pinterest board called Gardening with Children, with plants in fun sizes and colors, sunflower houses, etc. From this inspiration, I’m making living willow arches that lead into the sand pit. They’re nowhere near photo-ready; right now they look likes sticks jammed into the ground. But I’m SUPER excited for them! If they do well, I’ll do another blog post at the end of the season to show their progress.
Once I made all of my inspiration boards, I pulled together a board specifically for my new yard, with a big section on dry creeks, bridges, archways, and other elements that I wanted to be sure to include.
Pinterest can be an enormous time-suck, but it can also really get the creative juices flowing. When we spend our days with young children, they depend so much on strong routines that it can be easy to fall into utter boredom. You might think that my Play Garden is finished, but in my mind it’s nowhere near done. I am constantly reading, thinking, gardening, buying items for the play house or the sand pit at the thrift store, and dreaming about ways to make the space better and better. Pinterest can be one tool for doing that.
If you enjoy the time-suck of Pinterest, you can see lots more ideas for festivals, seasonal activities, and more on the rest of my boards as well: https://www.pinterest.com/joyfultoddlers/boards/
That’s it for today!
Warmly, ~Faith Collins
Do you spend time with children ages 1-5? Check out my book, Joyful Toddlers & Preschoolers: Create A Life that You and Your Child Both Love. Check out the reviews on Amazon, then buy your copy through my website.