Do it Yourself: Backyard Ideas


Your backyard can be a soothing place to escape everyday life. This is a space where the whole family can enjoy physical activities, play games, use their imaginations, learn about nature and relax. From a simple tetherball setup to an outdoor kitchen, there are backyard projects for handypersons of any experience and abilities.

Play Structures

  • A sandbox is one of the most straightforward structures to build in the backyard. Adding a lid to the box will protect the sand from the weather and any visiting cats and dogs. A miniature shed makes a fun playhouse for children, and adding window boxes on the outside will encourage them to grow their own flowers. Enclosing an area in front of the playhouse with a picket fence provides space for a small vegetable garden. Classic tree swings of ropes or tires, along with a see-saw, provide opportunities for kids to engage in physical activity. You can create an obstacle course throughout the backyard, incorporating elements such as a tunnel, a limbo rope and a hanging hula hoop to jump through.

Outdoor Games

  • No matter the size of your backyard, there is always room for a tetherball game, enjoyed by people of all ages. In a circular space at least 3 feet in diameter set up a tetherball post with a ball attached by twine. Or you could create a small putting green or a lawn bowling area on your yard.


  • The older members of your family may enjoy an entertainment and dining area in your backyard. If local ordinances permit, a fire pit provides a place for social gatherings and marshmallow roasts on a summer evening. The cooks in the family may appreciate an outdoor kitchen area. This can be as simple as a counter top surrounding your barbecue or as elaborate as a fully functioning kitchen, complete with sink and fridge. Along with this, a gazebo or canopy forms an outdoor dining room, complete with lighting and floor coverings.

Nature Area

  • Designate part of your garden as a nature viewing area. Plants, such as butterfly bushes and bachelor buttons, attract butterflies and birds. Add a birdhouse of the right size for the birds that are native to your area. You can even build a birdhouse in a style to match your own home or use your dream home as inspiration. Birds need a constant supply of water, so a running fountain or stream of water will be suitable here. If you have a birdbath or bowl of water, clean and refill it regularly.

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  • "The Complete Guide to Backyard Recreation Projects"; Black and Decker; 2010
  • "Barbeques and Outdoor Kitchens"; Bridget Biscotti Bradley; 2009
  • "Attracting Backyard Birds: Inviting Projects to Entice Your Feathered Friends"; Sandy Cortright et al,; 1995
  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/BananaStock/Getty Images
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