Backyard – Home Truths

I was delighted and devastated all at the same time when the lovely Christie from Childhood101 made this comment on a previous post.  (Click the image if you can’t read it…)

Delighted, because I think there is always beauty to be found in outdoor spaces and I’m glad I’ve been able to find snippets of beauty in our yard.  But devastated, because I’ve made people think our backyard is something it’s not.  Well, not yet anyway.

I have big plans for our backyard.  At the moment it’s just a weedy hill, with a rock wall, a macadamia tree and a couple of gums – but we make the most of it!

My kids have lots of fun out there as it is, but it has so much potential to be a wonderful playspace with a few additions.  Call me crazy, but I have never wanted a flat, grassy backyard.  Here’s what I do want:

  • back deck – the plans have already been drawn up by Your Architect, but it will be a while before it all comes together.  (My sister is an amazing architect – if you’re Brissy based you should definitely check her work out.)
  • digging area – I’d like something more natural than a square box or clam shell, and plants around it.
  • dry creek bed – yes, I’m serious.  I’d love a rocky narrow “creek” running down the hill.  It will only run in pouring rain, but that’s fine with me!
  • plants – lots of interesting, bird attracting, hardy, climate suitable plants.  I’m much more into foliage than flowers.
  • meandering paths – connecting different areas of the garden.
  • secret spaces – I love the natural cubbies that form under overhanging branches, and don’t mind encouraging them and adding some seating.
  • a yard that will grow with us and accommodate everyone in our family.

Catherine from Adventures With Kids has me thinking about pulleys too, and I’m always inspired by Jenny’s posts at Let The Children Play.  I’m bound to get planting ideas over at Caro’s blog.  Any other Aussie bloggers you would recommend for playscape inspiration?

Don’t expect to see our backyard transformed in a weekend or anything like that – but I will update you as we go.  We started our digging area over Easter so I’ll have some pics to share soon.  And maybe one day I’ll show you a photo of the whole backyard, instead of just pretty snippets.

What would you love to have in your backyard?

27 thoughts on “Backyard – Home Truths

  1. friends of ours have an amazing ropes area and a flying fox. The ropes are at 2 heights around trees so the kids can walk on one and reach up and old on to the top level (does that make sense) and they wrap around 3 sides of a squarish shape taking up most of the back treed area (large space) – awesome!

  2. just went over to Catherines Adventures With Kids blog and was reminded of Soulemamas “banging wall” which I thought was a fantastic idea (lots of pots and pans and cookie trays all secured to a wall with spoons etc for “making music”)

    Also love the stone labyrinth idea she posted about (from a Montessori site)

    and water walls (pipes and containers for pouring/water play)

    The C and K that Ella went to last year had the best digging pit with lots of pvc pipes and rope to hang/position them from trees etc to add to the fun

    Mmmmm if only we werent renting I would be doing the same

    Have fun creating!

  3. Funny how we are all so different. I search so hard to find houses with flat yards for swings trampolines to throw a frisbee and just run about like crazy people. We use clam shell sand pits and pools. Sure they could be prettier but as they fade I turn them into pots for the garden and get some more. I think you dream does soun beautiful.

  4. wow i love the idea of what you want to do to your backyard :o) and can’t wait to watch it come to life.

    i grew up on a 10000 hectare property in Tenterfield and you just described my whole childhood :o) a very happy time for me.

    i have a suggestion for you, cause you already have the Gums there what if you used them (only if theres enough room) to create a flying fox?
    .-= Katie´s last blog ..~ every girl needs Jewelery – so we have 2 of the April Give Aways up, don’t forget to keep commenting and sharing with your friends (even the guys :o) lol), now its time for the 3rd but i’m leaving the choice up to you the fans, Please let me know what would like to see as the 3rd Piece up for the Give Away, earrings rings bracelets necklaces watches wine charms the choice is yours :o) so let me know ox =-.

  5. Your plans sounds fantastic. I also love gorgeous textured, rambling gardens even though ours is not! Our place has a large, rectangular, concrete section which we initially planned to remove but the kids just love it. They use it to skateboard, scooter, shoot hoops, draw with chalk, play handball,use pogo sticks and skipping ropes and hit tennis balls against the wall. So my recommendation is a big,ugly slab of concrete!

  6. AH I am so with you on that wish list… specially the hidey places! Though our ‘dry creek bed’ is our dam which almost never has water in it!

    As for the banging wall idea.. have you ever tried hanging various items from a tree to be bashed around to make music? Similar idea but less construction and easier to put up and take down!

    Can’t wait to see what your garden ends up like!
    .-= katef´s last blog ..Is it Really Wednesday? =-.

  7. We are both terrible in the back /front yard! I remember having dreams of an amazing yard when your first was born.
    Our mango tree is getting big enough for the kids to swing from. They use the swing set as gym equipment and climb on top of the cubby house!
    I love grass. Your pics show grass! Grass is so good for kids. Room to run. Room to explore, room to play chase.
    I’m sure when you are finished your yard will be delightful!
    .-= Michelle´s last blog ..Winning Story with Interview! =-.

  8. I love the pics of the kids. It’s great getting an update on their growth via your site. I can’t wait to actually meet them.

  9. We have no trees, and our weeds or so spaced (and full of redbacks) that there isn’t any soft ground to play on right now, so I am of course very jealous of your yard! How I miss the big, beautiful fig tree we used to have (now sadly gone as they pulled it and the house down since we left!), it gave us a shady spot to play during the day and was filled with possums and bats at night.

    My husband is trained in horticulture and has very ambitious (I feel) plans for our yard. A dry cactus garden opposite the proposed decking, working down to a grey garden and too “secret” gardens at the back with a rainforest theme. And, of course, my planned vegie patch at the side. We want natives to encourage the birds and other wildlife to visit. We already see kookaburras, but I am wondering what other birds might pop by to say hello.

    I will also post updates once we start (hopefully soon!). :)
    .-= amandab´s last blog ..Wordless Wednesday – Circus in a Suitcase and Assistant =-.

  10. Wonderful ideas Cath! We are in the process of building a very bare structure of a fort (mainly for climbing and the kids to add to) and putting a flying fox in.

    Our garden was well established when we bought our place and was beautiful. It just doesn’t provide the opportunities like your ideas do. You have given me some great inspiration thanks!
    .-= PlanningQueen´s last blog ..Getting Organised At Home =-.

  11. I think it is beautiful and looks like amazing fun just the way it is. But I can also see how wonderful it will be. Our new garden is just one big patch of flat grass so we too have lots of plans for creating a family friendly space. I love the show Dry Spell Gardening (and they have lots of fact sheets online) for inspiration – not necessarily the child friendly aspects but for the plantings and layout and social aspects of the garden. Good luck!
    http://www.lifestylechannel.com.au/dryspellgardening/series1.asp
    .-= Christie @ Childhood 101´s last blog ..Kids Create: All Taped Up! =-.

  12. Thank you for the lovely mention :) I think this is a case of size doesn’t matter – if there are lots of interesting natural elements in a backyard or playground, with lots of moveable bits then the kids can imagine and create no matter how large or small the space is. Teacher Tom has proved this with his preschool playground makeover – have you seen this?

    http://teachertomsblog.blogspot.com/2010/03/notes-on-our-community-experiment.html

    I looove the idea of a dry creek bed! Donna and Sherry at Irresistable ideas for playbased learning are in the process of planning one for their preschool, and I will be eagerly looking on.

    I’ve also got some images I’ve collected that I can email you for inspiration.
    .-= jenny´s last blog ..my favorite childhood nature place =-.

  13. Oh wow! Can’t wait to have a backyard of our own and let the kids have fun there.

    Here in Singapore, we have ‘space constraints’, and apartment spaces are limited too. Such activities you have planned for your backyard can only be found outside and away from home.

    Still, for us here … it’s still better than not having the options at all :)
    .-= Leonny @ Our Everyday Things´s last blog ..Kids: Room for Imagination =-.

  14. First of all I love the pics of your kids in the garden – so lovely Cath! The plans of your future garden/ playspace sound really interesting. I once worked in a kindy with that kind of feel to it and the kids were always busy running, exploring, digging etc. We have a smallish space to work with at our new house but slowly we are adding to it. I’m just so happy to have added a veggie patch to it in the last week. The girls are enjoying digging and planting and watering but the most joy has come from seeing the plants grow. We have new pumpkin plant coming up from the seeds we saved from a pumpkin we had. So exciting! I can’t wait to see your finished garden.
    .-= BusyBrissyMum´s last blog ..Recycled Art Container – Ready to Go Creative Fun =-.

  15. I love the idea of dry creek bed. I wanted one for our garden, which is how we ended up with a bushwalk (because we could easily push a path through but a creekbed was more work).
    A friend sent me pictures and the inspiration for her garden to entice all 5 senses after reading my post – I am going to write it up for my blog soon.
    .-= Catherine´s last blog ..looking back – April 2009 =-.

  16. We have a beautiful backyard…I can say this because my husband has done most of the work to make it and keep it that way. We have a big oak tree in the middle that a squirrel planted perhaps 15 years ago. It currently holds two swings (a baby swing and a disc swing) which both get a lot of use. It also has a couple of ropes that my daughter likes to climb. We are hoping to build a treehouse soon so we can add a slide, some monkeybars, and a kid hideout. My kids desperately need something to climb on…They find their own spaces to dig and play with water…The only other thing I wish we had is space to grow veggies. We have a pear tree, and a lemon tree. Sometimes we are lucky with tomatoes. I’d love to grow peas, zucchini, pumpkin, carrots, and potatoes. Hubby says we don’t have enough sunny space for all of this.
    .-= KDL´s last blog ..Time to Rest =-.

  17. I’m so pleased I stumbled across your blog via Twitter. I’m in the process of revamping my backyard because it needs it. I spend my time giving advice to schools about how to do this and then neglect my own patch…!

    I always ask my son for his thoughts. This time, we’re going for lots of edible foods, especially berries and fruit trees. We’re creating a pond, log piles and continuing to plant native species to increase the biodiversity. He’s 13yrs old now. The other plan is to create an outdoor cooking spot with a table tennis “cover”

    If my son was younger, we’d definitely have: a sandpit – the larger the better, a mud/digging area, big water experiences via an outdoor tap, places to hide and an outdoor dressing up and den building box. And lots of bits and pieces left outside to continue play the next day!
    .-= Juliet´s last blog ..The Hidden Park =-.

  18. We have a back-yard like that too. We have 2 1/4 acres of bushland with only a small back yard. I took the boys up there the other and they had so much fun. They were filthy and Olly was eating twigs but they really enjoyed it and we found a wild passionfruit vine with fruit on it.

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