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How to Create a Family Friendly Backyard

Grandmother prepared cake for a family picnic in the backyard

With warmer days on the horizon, many families are gearing up for a summer full of backyard fun. You might pull out some corn hole boards and bean bags, set up an obstacle course for the kids, or plan a backyard barbecue with your friends. 

Whatever your summertime speed is, it’s likely you’ll have guests and family members of all ages running around your outdoor space. That’s why it’s important to create a family friendly backyard. And we want to help! This blog outlines all the important considerations of designing and landscaping your outdoor space so kids and adults alike can enjoy their time in the sun.

What Makes a Backyard Family Friendly?

Family sitting by a table in the garden

Having a family friendly backyard isn’t just about adding play structures and swing sets. It’s about finding ways for the whole family to share the space and have fun together. You can do this by adding features everyone can enjoy or by creating different areas for different activities. 

Both of these options do require a little bit of vision and planning. To give you some inspiration, we’ve compiled a few of our favorite family friendly backyard design ideas.

Family Friendly Landscaping Ideas

partial view of son looking at father cooking sausages and corn on barbecue on backyard

The plants you choose can make or break your backyard. You want the right mix of shade and sun, beauty and utility, pops of color and shades of green. But when you have kids or pets running through your backyard every day, choosing the plants that accomplish these different balances is a bit tougher. 

For a family friendly backyard, you want to choose plants, flowers, and grasses that are durable enough to withstand being run over, knocked down, and tread on frequently. 

In general, native plants will be your best bet because they’re better adapted to the environment and thus a bit hardier than transplants. But there are some other options too:

  • Ornamental grasses
  • Allium
  • Day lilies
  • Viburnum
  • Lilacs
  • Perennial plants
  • Shrubs
  • Walnut, buckeye, or beech trees

In addition to durable plant life, you want to make sure the places your kids are playing have soft landing zones. Allow for lots of grass, turf or even rubber in the areas where your children’s play structures are. This can help to cushion their landing if they fall down or off of a swingset or slide.

Family Friendly Hardscaping Ideas

A beautiful small, urban backyard garden featuring a tumbled paver patio, flagstone stepping stones, and a variety of trees, shrubs and perennials add colour and year round interest.

The same rule of durability that you use in landscaping applies to family friendly hardscaping too. You want to make sure your materials are durable enough that they won’t get scratched, cracked, or nicked by kids, guests, or pets running around on it. 

If you’re looking for an affordable option, wet cast pavers are an easy solution to durable hardscaping. They offer a sturdy cement option in a variety of colors and textures so you can have a unique hardscape area without breaking your budget.

For a more refined look, you can go with natural stone or granite. These are two extremely durable options that also give your backyard a cohesive natural look. They’re often the best match if you want your landscaping and hardscaping to have a seamless, cohesive design. 

To further protect your durable hardscaping materials from the kids or pets, you can add a sealer. Sealing your stones offers a protective layer to the materials so that the only thing damaged is the outer coat and not the stone itself. 

As you choose your plants and pavers, you’ll also be considering the overall design of your backyard and how you can maximize its opportunities. As you think about what you’d like to add, keep in mind some of our key considerations to help you create a backyard everyone can enjoy.

Key Considerations

Beautiful Garden with Lit Firepit, Andirondack Chairs Greeenhouse with Great Dane dog lying on blanket in foreground

Yard Space

It can get tempting to add lots of features and structures to your backyard. Swing sets, bird baths, a fire pit, a grill area, you name it. But every time you add one more thing, you take away a little more green space too, and before you know it the backyard feels cramped and small.

When you design your family friendly backyard, make sure to leave some space free for kids to run or adults to mingle. Leaving some open areas can help to make small spaces feel bigger and more inviting, so don’t feel like you have to cover every inch of grass to create a fun atmosphere.

Water Features

Water features are a fun addition to any backyard, but they can be a potential safety hazard for small children. If you’d like some water in your yard without the worry, consider features that young children can play in. Things like fountains, waterfalls or even a small splash pad can be a fun addition for kids and a relaxing sound for adults. 

Patio Size

Patios are an important part of your backyard because it’s likely where the adults will spend the most time. Consider how many people you’d like to have under your patio when choosing its size. If it’s just you and your spouse, then a smaller, covered area might be ample space. If you like to entertain, however, it’s wise to opt for something a little bigger so people can comfortably mingle without feeling crowded.

Fire Pits

Fire pits are a great addition to the yard because you can enjoy them year round. If you’re considering adding one to your space, it’s helpful to add in a couple of safety features as well so your guests and kids don’t get hurt.

Keeping stone around your fire pit (arranged like a wall) helps to protect you and your yard from the flame. And although there’s a certain magic to throwing a log on the fire, gas fire pits are often a safer option. You don’t have to worry about flying sparks and you can quickly turn it on and off. 

Lastly, when designing your fire pit, make sure it’s high enough that people won’t fall into it. Even adults can trip and fall, so you want to try to steer clear of fire pits that are set into the ground.

Added Features

Some of the best features of a family friendly backyard are those that everyone can enjoy! Speaker systems are a great addition to your outdoor space because they can be used to entertain kids or play some upbeat background music at your get together. 

Lights are another great idea because they add an element of safety. With good lighting, you can stay outdoors even after the sun goes down. Plus, you can outline dangerous elements in the yard, such as the edges of cement pavers or patios and the pathway through your area. This is helpful for kids and adults alike when navigating the yard at night.

Partner with a Professional

As summer gets into full swing, be prepared to spend some family time outside. Creating a family friendly backyard is an easy way to make a space where everyone wants to be together. And the best part is, you don’t have to do it alone!

At Torchwood Landscaping, we love helping our clients make their backyard dreams a reality. Check out our photo gallery of previous projects to see if our work is a match for your needs. We’d love to be your partner!