How to Create a Family-Friendly Yard

Sarah Zwiefelhofer

At Home Play

Create a Lush Lawn

Regular lawn care should include fertilizing, watering, and aerating. Aeration involves poking holes into the earth, allowing nutrients to easily reach grass roots. But your lawn’s needs depend on the type of grass you have, too. You can find local professionals to help you by searching online for “aeration service near me.” Many aeration companies also offer other services like weed control. Check that the company is licensed and insured, and request referrals before hiring them.

Once you have a gorgeous lawn free of weeds and stickers, your family can enjoy running barefoot and packing picnics in the afternoon. You could even plan some backyard camping nights, so everyone can enjoy the grass under the stars.

Plant a Vegetable Garden

A vegetable garden is a great activity that kids and parents can take part in together. This will also offer plenty of educational opportunities for kids. You can teach them about concepts like photosynthesis and processes like composting, for example. Include produce that's kid-friendly and easy to grow in your garden. Examples include carrots, beets, radishes, and tomatoes.

What’s more, you can introduce your kids to a healthier way to snack by growing nutritious vegetables. By growing the food themselves, they’ll appreciate what vegetables have to offer as they replace unhealthy options with food from their garden. And kids are usually very excited to try out the new produce they helped to grow!

You can also use this process to talk about the environment and our carbon footprints. It’s a great way for kids to see firsthand how humans can affect the environment in both good and bad ways. Plus, you can share facts about how their little garden is helping the environment.

Create a Wildlife-Friendly Area

A yard full of wildlife can also be educational for children, introducing them to local animals from birds to squirrels. You can create a wildlife-friendly garden in a few ways. Start by growing butterfly-friendly plants. You can use this as an opportunity to talk about pollinators and their importance to our environment. If your kids aren’t allergic, and if they are not too afraid, consider making a bee hotel, too!

Next up, add bird feeders. You can even get a kid-friendly book on identifying birds and turn it into a fun educational opportunity. A compost pile is also a great idea. It will attract critters like spiders and millipedes, and you can use the compost for your veggie garden. If your child likes to draw or journal, have them write about the creatures they see coming into your new wildlife area.

Make it Versatile and Safe

Get more out of your garden by adding hardscaping, like a walkway, patio, or terrace. This will give you more opportunities for activities in your yard. For example, a hard surface can be used for playing games like basketball or hopscotch. It can also hold patio furniture, an outside dining set, or a barbecue.

Once you've put all this effort into creating a beautiful yard, you want to keep it safe and secure. Adding a fence around your property's perimeter can keep unwanted wildlife and intruders out. It will also help protect kids and pets, keeping them safely on your property. Before installing a fence, have a property surveyor confirm the boundaries of your property. A surveyor may be required when building on your property, especially when building something that reinforces property boundaries.

You would also need a surveyor if you planned to build a larger structure on your property, but smaller items like a greenhouse should be fine. If you live in a colder climate, a greenhouse can allow you to garden during more of the year and increase your yard's usability. If you have a garden shed, you can convert it into one. You'll then have a space that's protected against the harsh winter elements, where you can garden when it's cold out.

Add Fun & Functional Decor

Once you have the basics of your lawn in place, you can start adding fun extras. You might incorporate water elements, like a small fountain, for example. Garden ornaments are also a unique touch and can make your yard stand out. Country Living offers a roundup of garden ornaments that go beyond the stereotypical gnome. You might also want to get accessories like a trellis or umbrella for shade.

If your yard is big enough, create a nook for fun, family-friendly games like badminton, volleyball, or adding a basketball hoop. Adding a little activity to your day can help your body and mind, and doing with your family adds some additional bonding time.

Creating a family-friendly yard takes some effort and investment. However, it will be well worth it when you and your family can enjoy this outdoor space together!

Contributor Colleen Stewart loves giving her two kids a healthy example to live by. Her passion for community and wellness inspired her and her husband to team up with their neighbors and create a playgroup that allows the adults and their kiddos to squeeze in a workout a few times a week. She created Playdate Fitness to help inspire other mamas and papas to make their well-being a priority, and set a healthy foundation for their little ones in the process.

Dreamed of Being
Scientist
Sarah Zwiefelhofer
Chief Learning Officer (CLO)

Graduated UW-Stout in 2017, Sarah is from Fall Creek, WI and has been at the museum since 2017.