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5 Elements of a Family Friendly Backyard

Written by Anne Marie DiMatteo | Mon, Sep 29, 2014

If you love the outdoors, you’ll want your children to develop the same love, instead of sitting in the house all day long. Having a backyard that suits both your needs as well as that of your kids can encourage them to spend time outside, learning new skills and exploring in a safe place.

Whether you’ve got a yard already, or if you’re only in the planning phase, here are some elements that will ensure that your backyard is family friendly and a safe and relaxing place for everybody.

#1: A chemical-free lawn.

Many lawns and gardens require pesticides to keep them healthy. However, this isn’t so good for your kids and can adversely affect their health, especially if they’re in the soil-eating stage. Since you don’t want to have to keep an eagle-eye on your children all the time, cultivating a safe space is essential in all senses of the word. Consider installing a chemical-free organic lawn that can be maintained without the use of chemical fertilizers or pesticides. Also choose a lawn grass that is durable, since kids running around can be quite hard on delicate grasses. You’ll have to re-sow and aerate any thin patches to aid recovery and you can also get mixes that are better for areas with poor soil or shade.

#2: Have a place for pets.

Pets can be quite hard on a yard and garden, and taking them into account during the planning phase can prevent dead and dying plants and dug-up beds. Raised beds help lift plants above ground level and can keep toy trucks and cars out of the beds. Having a vegetable garden in a raised bed will prevent dogs from trampling your hard-grown vegetables. If you have areas you wouldn’t want your animals in, consider small delicate fences that add character and fun to the garden.

#3: Adult zones.

Your backyard should be a balance between spaces for adults and children. A patio or deck at the top of the yard can provide adults with the space they need to entertain, as well as keep a watchful eye on the children. If you entertain often, you can add a fire pit or grill space, and plenty of seating will ensure that adults have the space they need to entertain and relax. You can separate this area from the rest of the garden by using dense plants or some trellis panels. Tents or raised platforms can provide zones for the children as well, where they can play in private and can provide a relaxing retreat that is kids only, which doubles as a shelter when the rain comes down.

#4: Safety.

You want to have a backyard that the entire family can enjoy safely, and you don’t want to spend all your time worrying about whether your children will hurt themselves. Have wide open spaces, make sure all paths are smooth and wide but also include retreats where kids can have some privacy. If you want a water feature, a pebble fountain is a safe way to add some water that is child-friendly.

#5: Continue family life outside.

In addition to having adult only and kid only areas, place other areas in the backyard where you can play with your children, and areas where you can continue living as a family outside. Plenty of seating will allow the entire family to spend time outside and enjoy some evenings without the television or other distractions.


Planning a family friendly backyard on your own can be a challenge. Consider hiring a professional who can offer you advice that will meet the needs of your entire family.

Photo credit: MSVG / Foter / CC BY