The great outdoors: 5 family-friendly landscaping ideas

There are dozens of ways to create a yard that both you and your children can love.

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  • We all love to be outdoors. In fact, I have yet to meet a kid that doesn't love to play outside. In my family, we all try to get outside at least once a day to breathe in the fresh air and get all those extra wiggles out.

  • Though most children thrive outside, not all outdoor landscapes are suitable for children. If you're worried about your existing landscape, here are five ideas for creating the perfect family-friendly yard:

  • Determine what activities your children love the most

  • Tree houses, tire swings, rock climbing walls, trampolines and playgrounds are all things that will enhance outdoor play. And chances are, you will have the most popular yard in the neighborhood. Decide which items are right for your family and design your landscape with those things in mind.

  • Make sure there is plenty of room to run around and play

  • Kids crave lots of space and when they have ample running room, they can really have fun. Games of tag, soccer, and kick-the-can can hardly be played on a small patch of land.

  • Identify your needs and wants

  • Have you got basketball stars in the family? A basketball court may come in handy. Do you have a green thumb? Make sure there is space for a garden; one that the kids can help out with. If you've got lots of running space, a water source will be ideal. My grandparents installed a drinking fountain in their backyard and it is a hit among the little ones.

  • Be mindful of the plants you choose

  • Obviously, you want to steer clear of poisonous and potentially harmful plants. Edible plants and a vegetable garden are extremely kid-friendly and are also beneficial. Try planting a strawberry patch or growing a crop of sunflowers to start out. Letting your children snitch some carrots of strawberries is a good way for them to eat some fruits and vegetables.

  • Allow your kids to contribute to the landscape decor

  • Landscaping is a good family activity. Your children should enjoy participating in planning and decorating your yard. These stepping stones combine both the sentimental and the functional into one. Plus, the kids will have a blast making them.

  • Landscaping on a budget

  • If you're on a tight budget, DIY as much as possible. My kids would fall in love with their very own sandbox, and this is now at the top of my to-do list. I've scoured the Internet for the very best; my top three suggestions are on these sites: Made, Small and Friendly, and MPMK.

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  • Take your landscape one step at a time. It may be easy to feel overwhelmed at first, but if you plan carefully and do it in stages, it will be easier to create the landscape you want. Before you know it, you will have a place that both you and your children will love and cherish.

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Jessie McKinley is a city girl living in a small town. A graduate in Home and Family Living, she now puts her knowledge to use daily as she teaches and raises her two young children, whom she adores.

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