An open flat area
You probably already know that you want a grass area for playing sports or running around. What you may not realize is that this doesn’t need to take up your entire yard. In addition to being a more water-wise option, limiting your grass area to a smaller portion of your yard decreases the maintenance required and opens up your yard for other active elements. If you have hills or a steep elevation on your lot, consider swapping out your grass in those areas for planting beds or a rock wall.
Gardening can be a wonderful way to be physically active, and it also provides you with fresh produce to incorporate into your diet. The hinging, squatting, pulling, pushing, and carrying movements that you do while working on your garden can create a highly functional workout to add to your daily or weekly exercise regimen. When planning out your garden, we recommend incorporating staple foods along with other foods that you can try. (If you’re worried that your children won’t eat things, have them help plant and care for your garden.) Check out this post to read about our recommendations on where to start.
An explorative area
By incorporating large bushes, grasses, and overhanging trees, you can create a place where your children can use their imaginations to enter another world. Fairy gardens or secluded nooks in your backyard will encourage your children to go outside and explore. Rather than discouraging them from making forts, build with them to increase your daily activity and build lasting memories.
If you live in an area with established trees, capitalize on them with a treehouse or ladders built into the tree. Your children will probably be climbing in them either way, so this will help to make them more safe and accessible. You can also set up a slack-line or hammock between the trees to encourage outdoor leisure time. If you don’t have large trees in your lot, PLANT THEM! Even young trees provide shading and cooling effects in your yard. You may also opt for a play set, which is a great option for young families or grandparents. Last, if you are including terraces or short walls in your backyard, make sure that they are safe to climb and walk on. This will also make it easier for your children to do what they will do anyway.
If you’ve ever gone to the gym to walk laps, you’ll enjoy the convenience of walking around your yard. Even if you aren’t working with a large acre lot, you can create an enjoyable walking path if you plan ahead. You may consider incorporating the sides of your yard so that you can travel all the way around the house, or create a trail that is centered around your children’s play area so you can keep an eye on them while getting your step count up.
An outdoor kitchen or patio
Your outdoor kitchen may be as simple as a grill or fire pit, or as elaborate as a covered patio with full appliances and a TV, but the purpose remains the same: to encourage you and your family to eat more meals at home together. If you grow tired of the same dinners at home every night, rather than go out to eat, take your meal outside. Add in some twinkling cafe lights or a crackling fire, and you’ll feel like you’re traveled somewhere special. This will also help your family to connect more (without screens) and gives you an opportunity to grill up a hearty protein and make a salad with the vegetables from your garden. Tip: if you involve your children in the meal planning and preparation process, they become more interested in eating what’s on the table.
A paved court
While plants can provide many health benefits, you shouldn’t rule out the usefulness of a concrete pad in your backyard. You could have a place for basketball, foursquare, pickleball or other sports, along with giving your younger children a place to use their creativity with chalk. This area could also become your outdoor gym area.
A relaxation area
Stress management is a key aspect of health, and your yard should be a place where you can relax and unwind. By incorporating a comfortable seating area that looks over a beautiful planting bed, you’ll help to create a space that does just that. Plants also help to block noise and provide privacy, so you may want to consider planting taller and thicker plants around the perimeter of your yard.
Some other options include
In-ground or netted trampoline
Full sport court
Outdoor exercise equipment