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  #1  
Old 02-21-2011, 08:33 AM
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Default Need Desperate Outdoor Setup Help...Pics

Ok so I have the smallest yard on the planet (definitely #1 priority when we move in a few years). Our yard just looks horrible in the winter and when it rains it's mud for days because most of our yard doesn't get a lot of sun.

So we go a quote this weekend for a wooden deck that would go from the side of our house all the way to the fence (it would cover that lovely concrete slab) and then would stretch to where the fence begins on the left hand side as you're looking at the yard from the house. They are going to rip up that wooden sand box, etc. to lay the deck.

So I'm wondering what to do with the rest of the grass (If we could afford to deck it all we would). I was thinking of maybe some of that outdoor carpet/grass stuff from the back corner of the yard for the picnic tables, sand table and slide structure. I just don't know if I should cover all the grass and just have deck and outdoor carpet or leave some grass somewhere.

What do you guys think?? Sorry it's so messy btw.



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Old 02-21-2011, 08:50 AM
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Could you just not have any grass - and cover the ground that's not going to be covered in deck with playground mulch? It wouldn't get muddy and the kids could still play on the "ground" off of the deck.
Just a thought
(I'd cover my entire yard in mulch if I could It takes my yard about 4 weeks in the spring for the ground to dry up enough to let the kids on the lawn!
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Old 02-21-2011, 08:57 AM
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i was just about to say the same thing as pammie. i much prefer a natural look, then indoor/outdoor carpet. i would mulch it. and i actually like the concrete slab. it gives them a place to scoot around on bikes, or color with chalk.

my yard is just as muddy, but i let them play in it lol
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Old 02-21-2011, 08:59 AM
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My only thought is the cost of the mulch for that much area but I bet it would work well.
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Old 02-21-2011, 09:03 AM
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Because of the slope of your yard and the way your fence is at the bottom of the slope a full deck is going to look strange. It would be nice to have a full deck but then your fence is going to be much lower in conjunction with your deck. Can you level of your yard somewhat with fill and then perhaps put in indoor/outdoor carpet? Then you would have a nice surface for your daycare supplies too. Otherwise, I don't really know how to solve this because your yard has a bit of an awkward layout.
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Old 02-21-2011, 09:08 AM
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What kind of grass is growing right now? For southern areas, Saint Augustine is supposed to be the best choice for shady areas. We are dealing with the same issue right now; and are thinking of putting St Augustine sod in our backyard; as was recommended by all of the research I've done.
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Old 02-21-2011, 09:09 AM
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If it was me, instead of a deck I would put a larger concrete slab in. My patio runs the length of my house and I love it, they can play when it is wet, ride riding toys, play with chalk, etc....off subject sorry

I agree with the mulch; easy care and when they cart around you can just sweep it off the deck (speak from experience here...) They seem to have waaaay more fun with mulch than sand! lol.

I have rubber mulch and I love it. It's pretty readily available now at home improvement stores (I got mine at Ace hardware). No bugs, no splinters, doesn't fade or rot. The only downside is it can get hot if in direct sunlight for a large portion of the day.

Btw, I love your back yard even if it is small
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Old 02-21-2011, 09:10 AM
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i cant wait until this summer. we are putting in a natural playscape. well, to the best of our ability, and how far i can make the $$$ stretch. i am going to set up the outside much like an outdoor classroom as well. i cant wait, we are currently under 3 feet of snow

are you def. wanting a deck, or was that just and idea you were tossing around?

if that was my yard, i would leave the slab. i would mulch at least under the climber area, put in a raised veggie/flower bed, and add a HUGE sand pit

check out....
planetearthplayscapes.com

Last edited by Michael; 02-21-2011 at 01:32 PM.
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  #9  
Old 02-21-2011, 09:22 AM
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We're just thinking about the deck idea but if I can come up with something else I'm totally open.

The problem is where the yard slants down after the concrete they can't really use that area. Maybe I could make that into a big sandpit. I just don't know what to do with the area.

For those that would enlarge the concrete slab how large would you make it?

I really wanted to do a garden too but just don't know where it could go. Maybe I could use the slanted area of the yard next to concrete slab for the garden and level out the ground a bit before putting it in.
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  #10  
Old 02-21-2011, 09:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SunflowerMama View Post
We're just thinking about the deck idea but if I can come up with something else I'm totally open.

The problem is where the yard slants down after the concrete they can't really use that area. Maybe I could make that into a big sandpit. I just don't know what to do with the area.

For those that would enlarge the concrete slab how large would you make it?

I really wanted to do a garden too but just don't know where it could go.
You could definitely turn the sloped area into the sandbox, I think. Make it even with the end of the concrete and it should not only be big enough to play in, it looks like it will be bigger than the current one. More fun for all! Moving the sand "box" over there will also give more room to play, or you could use the existing box as a raised garden bed.

You could also make the slanted area a raised garden bed, or you could look into Square Foot Gardening or Container Gardening.
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Old 02-21-2011, 09:39 AM
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you could also check out teachertomsblog.blogspot.com

he has a really small outdoor space as well, some of his ideas and the things he did with his space are pretty awesome.
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Old 02-21-2011, 10:00 AM
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I would build up the sides of the yard nearest the fence with secured landscape timbers then use mulch to level. I would do this using edging around your concrete patio to keep it from being kicked onto the pad.

I would probably put in a covered eating area (mini-gazebo) since we love to eat outdoors and require a cooling spot from the sun every 30 minutes or so in the summer.

I would not put in a deck as that makes your maintenance time/costs skyrocket. Kids, water and pets destroy decks. Not to mention it will shrink your yard to nearly unusable space (remember the step/s from a deck will have to be gated).

Here I have to have 35 sq ft indoor AND outdoor USABLE/CLEAR play space per child. My 3 decks do not count into that space .

If a piece of furniture or a climber/sandbox occupies space, it is deducted from the total (even though, technically, they DO use the space it does not count to my regulator ).

My child ratio is limited to my space requirements as well as Adult to Child supervision ratio.
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  #13  
Old 02-21-2011, 10:22 AM
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I understand how you feel about this but I can help you. I don't think deck is a good idea because of too small backyard. You can make more thick grass in your backyard. That is what my husband did. Our backyard is very large and he have been working on it to make it looks great. My daycare kids and my own love it and play a lot in the backyard without shoes on. It is so soft like carpet. lol. My husband do ants poison every three months to keep it out. My husband can help you out if you want to since we live in the same town. Just let me know.
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  #14  
Old 02-21-2011, 10:43 AM
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Personally I would want to deck out to the right of the door to the corner of the fence only the depth of the slab. Then install a very thick grass for the rest, not turf even though it turf is durable. I LOVE real grass as to my kids. My fav is a blue grass but I don't know how that would grow where you are.
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  #15  
Old 02-21-2011, 05:58 PM
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I hate mulch and I got rid of mine. Cost too much to keep it up each season. I went to grass carpet for my play area, and it is now in it's 3rd (or 4th..don't remember) winter, and each Spring comes out looking just like it did in the fall. I wouldn't trade it for anything. We don't have the best grass either. I started out with mulch in my play area, but got tired of them throwing it all over the yard, plus it would break down so much I had to replace it each season. I put $100 in the grass carpet, and haven't touched it in over 3 years. Best investment I made to my backyard. Kids love to play on it, it doesn't get hot, the rain drains right thru it, and it was very affordable.
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Old 02-21-2011, 07:22 PM
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I like the big sandpit idea. Get a fallen log or two to make bridges in it, put in raised beds along the fence, maybe a living willow playhut in one corner

There is a book called "Natural Playscapes" by Rusty Keeler that has some really great ideas for natural playgrounds, if anyone is interested. He has a website too.
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Old 02-21-2011, 07:56 PM
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I agree with the others NOT to put in a deck. I would keep the cement the same as it is. I would raise the ground level in the corner and/or pour cement in the corner. Then add a weather-resistant enclosed storage shelf area for the outdoor small toys where you can either place things in buckets or on shelves to have in that corner.

I would move your current sandbox down at least 10 feet. I'm not sure if you have any issues with sand getting all over your cement slab and going inside or not, but I don't like sand much. Personally, I would choose either the sandbox or the sandtable-not both. I like the sand table the best because you can use it for many things and it will not hurt the resell value of your home when you move in a few years. The sandbox frame would become a mini garden which WOULD have a good resell value for your home. I would instead put your current sandbox frame in the back right (outside) corner of your yard but about six inches away from each side of the fence. Then you could install a "walking path" around the sandbox box frame so you wouldn't have a small area of the yard that a lawn mower couldn't get to. I would use colored bricks of your choice so you wouldn't have grass around your new garden area. I'm not sure if your fence is straight across at the end behind all the toys, but if it's not, I would create a smaller and taller garden. Build up a foot so it's not level with the ground and have it be 4 by 4 feet even something small so it becomes a focal point.

You have two pipes along the side of your house. I would create a zone for flowers here so the children can't play in the area. This way you would have gardening up close to your home on the left and a garden far away on the right to balance out the yard. Have the children help, but you pick the area where they can plant it. You could also use the same colored brickes to outline your "flower" area. This would fill in the gap between the fence and cement slab.

Last edited by Abigail; 02-23-2011 at 09:35 PM.
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Old 02-22-2011, 05:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Abigail View Post
I agree with the others NOT to put in a deck. I would keep the cement the same as it is. I would raise the ground level in the corner and/or pour cement in the corner. Then add a weather-resistant enclosed storage shelf area for the outdoor small toys where you can either place things in buckets or on shelves to have in that corner.

I would move your current sandbox down at least 10 feet. I'm not sure if you have any issues with sand getting all over your cement slab and going inside or not, but I don't like sand much. Personally, I would choose either the sandbox or the sandtable-not both. I like the sand table the best because you can use it for many things and it will not hurt the resell value of your home when you move in a few years. The sandbox frame would become a mini garden which WOULD have a good resell value for your home. I would instead put your current sandbox frame in the back right (outside) corner of your yard but about six inches away from each side of the fence. Then you could install a "walking path" around the sandbox box frame so you wouldn't have a small area of the yard that a lawn mower couldn't get to. I would use colored bricks of your choice so you wouldn't have grass around your new garden area. I'm not sure if your fence is straight across at the end behind all the toys, but if it's not, I would create a smaller and taller garden. Build up a foot so it's not level with the ground and have it be 4 by 4 feet even something small so it becomes a focal point.

You have two pipes along the side of your house. I would create a zone for flowers here so the children can't play in the area. This way you would have gardening up close to your home on the left and a garden far away on the right to balance out the yard. Have the children help, but you pick the area where they can plant it. You could also use the same colored brickes to outline your "flower" area. This would fill in the gap between the fence and cement slab.
I love all these ideas!! I think this is exactly what I may do!! We were having problems with them playing near those poles and a little garden there would completely solve that problem and a garden in the back would be so pretty and in plenty of sun (my fear with the current location of the sandbox frame...no sun). Thank you, thank you!!

Last edited by Abigail; 02-23-2011 at 09:35 PM.
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Old 02-22-2011, 06:14 AM
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I would leave the concrete where it is. Next to it, I would fill it with pea stones (sure they are a bit expensive but less of a mess) so you can put a house on there for the kids to play with, and they can drive their cars on the cement.
I would move the sand box to the back of the property. I would also hang flowers up so brighten the back yard. Also a picknick table too.
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Old 02-22-2011, 10:11 AM
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Quote:
you could also check out teachertomsblog.blogspot.com
Nice site Mel! Thanks.

I have grass carpet on part of my outside play area approx 20X40 and I LOVE IT! LOVE, love LOVE IT!!!! Easy to care for, water flows through, no mud, no stones or mulch to get in mouths or tracked inside, babies can move around easily, and I love it. I have 12 inches of wood chips under so is a safe fall zone. It is green marine carpet and really looks like grass unless real close, the type used on boats and putting greens so it has a long life in the sun and rain. I got it for about $60 off craigslist from someone that used it once for an outdoor wedding but I have seen it cheap from companies that install on putting greens. Did I mention that I LOVE it?
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Old 02-22-2011, 06:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by melskids View Post
i cant wait until this summer. we are putting in a natural playscape. well, to the best of our ability, and how far i can make the $$$ stretch. i am going to set up the outside much like an outdoor classroom as well. i cant wait, we are currently under 3 feet of snow

are you def. wanting a deck, or was that just and idea you were tossing around?

if that was my yard, i would leave the slab. i would mulch at least under the climber area, put in a raised veggie/flower bed, and add a HUGE sand pit

check out....
planetearthplayscapes.com
I was just coming in here because I ran across this website today. In particular, I was going to recommend this article:

http://earthplay.net/

Last edited by Michael; 01-02-2012 at 12:52 PM.
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Old 02-23-2011, 05:26 AM
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I was just coming in here because I ran across this website today. In particular, I was going to recommend this article:

http://www.planetearthplayscapes.com..._20create.html
do they have any articles about creating one of these playscapes in a relatively small area? I LOVE the concept but I'm not sure my yard has enough room (even though it's not exactly a "tiny" yard, it's smaller than I'd like, lol)
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Old 02-23-2011, 05:56 AM
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I hope this works.
http://www.google.ca/images?um=1&hl=...&aqi=&aql=&oq=


now off to get more ideas
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Old 02-23-2011, 08:59 AM
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do they have any articles about creating one of these playscapes in a relatively small area? I LOVE the concept but I'm not sure my yard has enough room (even though it's not exactly a "tiny" yard, it's smaller than I'd like, lol)
Click on Articles on the left. I didn't see anything that specifically addresses small yards, but they have a lot of "20 things you can do..." and there are steps that we can all take.

I have an open, shared yard with my neighbors (townhouse), but there are several things I could do to increase creative, imaginative play. Right now I have a lot of balls, cars, magnifying glasses, wooden balance beam, etc etc. I need to make more of an effort to have sensory and water play available. We also put out some wooden blocks out there. I can't really make an permanent changes, but I know there's so much more I can do... Read the article, "Kids don't need equipment, they need opportunity". Love it!
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