Make your backyard more appealing to kids

Make your backyard more appealing to kids

Kids today are often consumed with staring at a screen and spending most of their free time indoors. Many neighborhoods lack nearby playgrounds, and concerned parents often frown on public park visits anyway due to coronavirus fears. So, where can parents point their children toward without feeling guilty - a place where young ones can benefit from body movement, frolic with friends, and avoid electronic overstimulation?

Look no further than your home's backyard, the ideal spot for a playground you can have built.

"Many people don't know how to make the best use of their yard. And while many kids have some outdoor toys, most of these toys aren't made for that purpose. But by investing in an outdoor playlet, it encourages outdoor play," says Cristina Miguelez, remodeling specialist for Wilmington, Delaware-based "Plus, many play areas can also be expanded or added onto as your kids grow, so that you can keep the area fresh and in use for years."

Yard play sets are typically made of wood and plastic and sold in kits that include one or more swings, a slide and a climbing area with shade. These kits can be assembled by handy DIYers or a hired professional (the latter is recommended to ensure safe construction), and they vary in price from $500 to $5000, on average, according to

Most backyard play sets come as kits that are relatively easy to assemble.

"Previously, kids used to go outside without prompting and play with local kids. But now parents increasingly need to urge their kids to get outdoors and away from virtual devices," says Travis Steineman, a real estate investor, Realtor and CEO of Buyhousesbr, a home buying/flipping firm in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. "The nice thing about having a playlet installed in your yard is that you can keep your children within your sight and have a convenient, nearby place to send them off to for safe play and recreation."

Those aren't the only benefits of placing a playlet on your grounds.

"Commonly, a well-maintained playground made from high-quality materials can increase your property value. It boosts curb appeal, as well. When it's time to sell your house, it can make it more appealing to home shoppers with kids," Steineman says.

Of course, there are some downsides. Kids busy at play just beyond your back door can create a lot of noise, for example. Their outdoor activities could lead to a dirty or unkempt yard. And there's always the chance that your offspring or their friends suffer an injury while using the playground, especially if the kids aren't supervised or cautioned about its proper use, or if you don't maintain and repair the playlet as needed.

Parents increasingly need to urge their kids to get outdoors and away from virtual devices.

Not to mention that an ugly and poorly cared for playlet can be an eyesore that detracts from your property's allure. Or, without proper planning, all the time and money you expended in building the playlet could be for naught if your child ultimately doesn't use it regularly.

"Good candidates for a playlet are homeowners with children between the ages of 2 and 12 who don't plan on moving anytime soon and who have enough space in their yard," says Miguelez, who notes that you probably need at least a 12-foot by 15-foot area to accommodate most playlet kits. "You also want to make sure you can either put down a mat, soft rubber mulch, or well-established, thick grass beneath the swing sets and slides."

Remember: If you opt for a different ground material than grass, you'll need a ledge or border to contain it.

A playlet is best built in a spot where children will have ample room to run around it and operate the swings and slide without obstruction. Avoid building a playground directly beneath a tree, if possible.

"Once built, plan on inspecting the playlet regularly for softening or rotting wood and any affected planks that need to be replaced. Also, keep the treads in good order, oil swing sets and chains as needed, and inspect all the materials carefully for signs of dangerous wear and tear," recommends Miguelez.

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