My Great Outdoors: Kate's Family Play Area

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Name: Kate N. Location: Gaylord, Michigan Type of space: Play Area

Tell us about your outdoor project and how you enjoy it:
We wanted to create a play area for our two boys without purchasing a kit from our local home improvement center. It was a project that spanned a couple of summers and we are delighted with the "finished" product (is anything ever really finished?). We love to hang out in the treehouse - picnicking, reading, exploring...The sandbox is large enough for several children (or adults) to build neighboring fortresses. The hammock is an alternative to the swings that we have yet to install and everyone can fit on it together. The boys help tend the area as well, raking designs in the gravel and pulling weeds (admittedly I paid our five-year-old to help with the weed pulling, but it still counts for quality time).

How did you create it?:
We began with the sandbox, which was the first area that our then tractor obsessed toddler required. My husband constructed it of cedar and we found a red and orange tarp at Target to create a cover with. T

he next project was the treehouse, which we also built and I painted to compliment our house. We used the branches that we removed from the tree to create the railing, which is actually very sturdy.

The area is very shaded and the soil is acidic, making the task of grass growing almost impossible. We opted to have fifteen yards of pea gravel delivered to our yard, which we spread with a small tractor and manually (wheelbarrow and shovel).

We used steel landscape edging to separate the area from our grass and reinforced it with stones my husband picked up in the fields where he works. The pillars that draw the eye to the back corner of our yard were made with concrete tubes and leftover cement from a pad our neighbor was pouring.

Every bit of the work put into this space was absolutely worth it when I see the boys hanging out there for hours without once complaining of boredom!

Recommended store, site, product or resource?
The jungle gym was purchased at Target. Most of the other materials were purchased at our local Lowes.

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