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Fun Landscapes for Kids

 
gardener
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I've got a niece and a nephew with more on the way. They live in town and have no room to really play. I'd like to build and plant some spaces that would be fun and enchanting for children. I'm thinking about building a clubhouse or safe play structure and planting weeping trees for "secret spaces." I'd like to hear anything and everything you do to enhance your landscape for children please
 
pollinator
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Fun thread.

Zip lines are worth hours of fun each visit and they are easy to do yourself. Scout your property for one stout horizontal branch, that is key to successful terminus. Look in each direction from there for a clear path with an 18 inch or more thick tree trunk, that is your launch point. Purchase 1/4 inch thick steel cable, and string it such that there is a sag before the terminus so that the rider burns off speed going uphill before the end point. The fastners are sold at any hardware store. The pulley you will want to buy online so you can get a dual (Tandem) pulley to distribute the weight.

So the great thing about building it yourself is you can use various attachments. Plastic rings for 12 to 15 year olds. Web swings for 6 to 12 year olds. Banana seats for 4 to 6 year olds. Little tike swings with straps for toddlers.

Each fall, we put up a 4 ft pile of leaves and the kids zip down into them. Oodles of fun.

Other ideas: rocks to scamper on. Swales that double as sledding features. And a mountain board for using on slope pastures.
 
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fast growing tall grasses, sunflowers, raspberry briars, and concord grape trellis make good enchanting spaces.  I still remember going to pick berries for my grandmas pancakes.  
 
pollinator
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Pssst, you might want to check out this thread I started. https://permies.com/t/107105/Amazing-shelters-primitive-skills-produce

There are some great ideas for "primitive" shelters that would make a kids day. Heck it would make most adults day. I am looking forward to get back from my vacation so I can start planning building something inspired from what I found and shared in the thread.
 
James Landreth
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Mark Laken wrote:fast growing tall grasses, sunflowers, raspberry briars, and concord grape trellis make good enchanting spaces.  I still remember going to pick berries for my grandmas pancakes.  



I should plant more bamboo. Sunflowers are a great idea. I've got an herb labyrinth and a grape trellis already. I'm trying to do a trellis tunnel for vines, but it'll take a few years before the vines are really established.
 
Devin Lavign
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James be careful with bamboo. It can be pretty invasive. Especially in western WA, it loves the temperate rain forest. Look around at people who have had it for awhile and I would say a good 90-95% have trouble with it escaping containment.

If your set on bamboo, look at what folks did that has worked to contain it. Talk with them and do what they did.

I love bamboo, but don't like seeing it take over places.
 
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I'm making a sand/gravel pit for my kids. The pit is done, but I'm still working on building a trellis to go over it and grow kiwis and give shade in the summer. The kids love digging in their pit! (I also bought some rough gemstones online and buried them in the put, too, and that was really fun, and a great way to talk about different gemstones).



Bean trellises are also fun (mine was a total flop because the ducks ate all the seeds. I'll have to try again this year!)

A climbing tree is also really fun. It doesn't have to be tall. Even just a platform 4 feet off the ground is cool!



Frog habitat (wetland/pond) is fun for those old enough that they won't go drowning.

If you have any big trees with strong branches, you could hang a swing of some sort. Tire-type swings are a ton of fun!

A berry garden with strawberries and rasberries amd blueberries, etc. You could also make a raspberry/blackberry/salmonberry "maze" with a convoluted path through rows of raspberries.

It could lead to a keyhole-type garden. My kids LOVE garden beds that have seating, and so love my little keyhole garden. You could plant it with things they love, like sorrel, chives, strawberries, cherry tomatos, carrots, snap peas, etc.



Giant rocks to hop to and from and crawl over a huge hit. A bit softer alternative is using log rounds.




One fun thing to do is make a simple map and bury something and mark it on the map. I did this with my preschool students, and then later again with my son on his birthday. He still goes and reenacts digging up his burred treasure.



Any sort of small shelter will probably be a hit, too, especially if it houses animals. My kids LOVE hanging out in the chicken coop as well as the duck house. They don't need a dedicated "play house"--I've got a little kitchen set outside that they rarely use--instead they pretend the chicken coop is their home!



One thing I've discovered is that the more involved the KIDS are in creating/planning their areas, the more they love it. They love their Tree Fort House far more than the swingset we built and were given. They love to play house in the chicken house far more than to play with the kitchen I made them. I think another big thing--with the younger ones--is to have it near where you are. My kids love to play near me, and so don't play with the stuff that's farther from the garden. Now that they're getting older, they venture out a little more, but for preschool age kids, having it near the main area is great (especially because they can be watched better!). I'd definitely do the work on the kid areas with them there, especially the "planning phase."A kid thats 2+ will be able to offer some input, and one that's 3+ will offer quite a bit more. They can help "break the ground" on the trellis or raspberry maze or whatever, and help pick out where to put logs. They probably won't have the attention span to do much, but when it's magically done the next time they come, they will feel a whole lot more like its theirs, than they probably would otherwise.
 
Devin Lavign
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Nicole Alderman wrote:IOne thing I've discovered is that the more involved the KIDS are in creating/planning their areas, the more they love it. -- < snip to shorten >-- They probably won't have the attention span to do much, but when it's magically done the next time they come, they will feel a whole lot more like it's theirs, than they probably would otherwise.



So much yes it is over flowing. Involvement building it is so important. It becomes their so much more. Even if they are young and don't have the attention span to do much, it doesn't matter. That they helped makes it so much better.
 
Posts: 1975
Location: Zone 5 Wyoming
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Kids are pretty easy. Give them a giant pile of dirt. Some sand. Somewhere to play in water. Always water. If you don't provide a water place they'll just flood their sandbox. My kids like having a place to keep their rocks and sticks. They have a small garden they plant and eat whatever they want from. It's fenced away from all the animals so I don't have to worry about them getting poop on themselves. Easy peasy.

Oh and I found a canoe with a hole in it at the metal recycling place. Bought it and BAM, easy.
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Nicole Alderman
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elle sagenev wrote:Oh and I found a canoe with a hole in it at the metal recycling place. Bought it and BAM, easy.


That is SO COOL!!! My kids are always trying to turn things into canoes. They're kind of obsessed, and every long box becomes their "canoe" and eats up our whole living room. That's so awesome that you got one for free!
 
James Landreth
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Thanks for all the ideas everyone! The old canoe is surely a new one
 
elle sagenev
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James Landreth wrote:Thanks for all the ideas everyone! The old canoe is surely a new one



My one caution is to NOT do some of the stupid stuff I did. While the sandbox was cool to look at it became a risk to the children as black widows love to move into the nooks and crannies of all those tires. I ended up taking it down and moving the sand into a small plastic swimming pool for them. I'm now sure not to provide any dark corners with the kids toys.
 
Posts: 106
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Plant a willow hut with them, or a crazy tunnel labyrinth... great for critters too.

My dream was to build a willow arbour igloo style, seats around the walls inside, filling the center with sand. As the kids grow up it can mutate into a cool fire pit.

You can build an arch with willow that in a few years can support a swing/seat, the boughs fuse together.

We planted a willow arch when we moved in, 10 years on and the kids are using it as a tree house.

Just don't plant close to your foundation or drains!
 
J Davis
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Adding a picture to show how the web swing alows kids to play together on Zip line.
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Montana has cold dark nights. Perfect for the heat from incandescent light. Tiny ad:
dry stack step
https://permies.com/t/125100/dry-stack-step
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