7 Creative Ideas to Make an Outdoor Oasis for Kids this Summer

published Jun 3, 2014
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With warm weather finally here, the wheels in my mind have been turning thinking of fun ways to get my little ones outdoors as much as possible. Of course there’s the park down the street, our little plastic play pool, and the tree my four-year-old loves to climb, but I’d love to come up with something fresh for a little added fun. Here are ten of my favorite ideas that I’ve come across—some simple, others more involved, but all sure to create tons of fun memories:

Credit: Maxwell Ryan

Build a Treehouse

Our own Maxwell Ryan made a treehouse for his daughter, and it’s simple enough to construct in an afternoon. Although treehouses can bring to mind super elaborate designs, this one is straightforward and easy—but still sure to create lots of fun afternoons. If you have a yard and good climbing trees, this is a must.

Set Up a Play Tent

Is there anything quite as magical as your own tent to play make believe in? You can buy your own, or DIY one with sheets and PVC pipes if you’re feeling adventurous. And if you really want to go all out, we were inspired by The Handmade Home’s amazing outdoor playroom/fort. No matter what, the result will lead to hours of imaginative playtime—or, if you have a little bookworm, quiet reading time.

Install a Swing

No room for a full swing set? Hanging up an individual swing is like an updated version to the tire swings of years past, but will still provide the same amount of fun and excitement. It doesn’t even have to be eyesore—take your cue from Ascher and Dylan’s Australia home and choose a modern swing that will complement the rest of your space.

Credit: Anna Spaller

Turn Your Outdoor Space Into a Gameroom

Big backyards are perfect for games like cornhole, kickball, and badminton, but you don’t need to give up the games when all you have is a patio. Mega Jenga sets (as seen above) are just one example of outdoor games that will keep kids (and adults!) occupied during sunny days.

Construct a Stock Tank Pool

Stock tank pools are ideal if you want a small pool to cool off in, but don’t want to deal with the upkeep, high price tag, and safety hazards of a full-size swimming pool. Durable and more aesthetically pleasing than your classic above-ground pools, they’re a hit with kids and adults alike. They’re also pretty easy to find, and can be installed either in-ground (like Wesley and Levi did in their New Orleans backyard above) or above.

Install an Outdoor Shower

This suggestion might seem like a weird addition to a “kid-friendly outdoor oasis”, but think about it—when kids are playing outside all day, do you really want them to come indoors before washing off? Not only are outdoor showers totally practical (especially if you live in a warm climate), but they’re also kind of magical—and very fun.

Credit: Sarita Relis Photography

Create a Secret Garden

Have a lot of greenery and room for a garden? Designate a small area for your kids to “take care of”—you can even surround it with a little white picket fence. This can be a spot where the kids get messy and play around in the dirt, without digging up your plants and veggies.

This post was originally published on June 3, 2014, and was last updated on May 15, 2019. Nicole Lund also contributed to reporting.