My Great Outdoors: Concrete vs. The Crawler

My Great Outdoors: Concrete vs. The Crawler

Carrie McBride
Jun 30, 2009
Name: Carrie, Simon & Miles Location: Brooklyn, NY
Type of space: Concrete Backyard

Tell us about your outdoor project and how you enjoy it: Truthfully, the title of this post should be My "Great" Outdoors as our family's outdoor space is just a small slab of concrete, but as any New Yorker will tell you, be extremely grateful for any inch of outdoor space you have as small or as challenging as it may be. (Heck, our next door neighbors have the same space, but have to crawl out their window to get to it!). Our particular challenge this summer was how to enjoy our concrete backyard with our 1-year-old son, Miles, who is not yet walking on his own.

How did you create it?: Before Miles was born we primarily used the backyard for small dinner parties with friends (grill not pictured), but as anyone with small children knows, changing their scenery is key to keeping them busy and happy. Short of covering the concrete with astroturf or rugs or outfitting our crawler with heavy-duty knee-pads, we've come up with a few ways to utilize the yard with our son:

Al fresco meals: Our concrete yard may not be the best match for a 1-year-old in terms of a playspace, but I'm determined that Miles gets as much fresh air as possible so we eat most of our meals here. It's especially peaceful in the mornings as Miles cranes his neck to watch all the birds flying overhead and landing on the fence to watch us. We chat with the older women hanging laundry on their lines in nearby buildings who like to keep tabs on Miles and wave to him.

Feed the birds (Tuppence A Bag): Many New Yorkers hate pigeons and squirrels ("rats with tails" according to a friend), but children love them - and so do cats! We have a morning ritual of tossing a handful of birdseed out back and watching the animals feast. Yes, we probably have more bird poop to clean off the furniture, but it's the highlight of our cats' day and Miles is equally fascinated. Plus, it makes me feel a bit like Snow White.

Kiddie Pool: The pool is a loaner from our neighbors who are in Italy for a month, but they hardly ever use it and we're betting they'll be happy to leave it on our side of the fence the rest of the summer (they don't have kids yet). We had a hunch this would be a hit with Miles since he loves his baths and this is a great way to cool down on hot days. If we were to buy our own we'd get an inflatable one for easier winter storage.

The Green Stuff: The yard gets a lot of direct sun and we've lost many a brave, courageous plant out there in years past. This year we concentrated on a large pot of succulents, a large pot of herbs, some geraniums and a few pots of jasmine. So far so good...

Bubbles: Miles never tires of watching bubbles and trying to pop them so this is a safe outdoor activity we can do while he's seated.

Recommended store, site, product or resource? Most of our backyard furniture comes from Ikea with a few items from garage sales. One item we're thinking about getting is a Mad Mat, an outdoor rug made of recycled polypropylene which can withstand rain and sun. We'd also like to purchase a mosquito force field!

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