For some time now, OK the entire time we have lived in this house, our backyard has been a work in progress. That is putting it mildly actually. When we moved in the earth was a dry, caked cesspool of weeds. And it still is. But we are making headway…
We put on a deck to replace the crooked, mangled miniature cement slab and lopsided, homemade overhang with nails poking through in which those over 5’11” would need to duck under so as not to get pierced in the head with a rusty remnant. We put in a fenced area for all sorts of bodily functions that might be had by a dog. Why just last week we had to induce emergency vomiting in the puppy who ate her fill of raisins off my daughter’s lunch plate.
There is still a bunch of dirt piles around the yard, which the children love to get out their shovels and dig through, and the puppy insists if she digs long enough she might actually be able to reach China. Mama hates those lovely piles due to the consistent paw prints all over the kitchen floor and off white carpeting. But, home improvement is often a slower process than we wish it to be.
Of course, as you know, we have finally gotten some gardening beds made. What a relief to this crash and burn gardener! Our dirt was delivered last Friday, and between all of our daily commitments, we got it wheelbarrow-ed into the beds. We built one 2×4 bed for the kids to manage, and seed planting will take place today or tomorrow for those that could actually survive a random frost.
But, as I was surveying the seeds at the gardening store, visualizing our backyard, and fully coming to terms with the fact it won’t be done all at once, I started thinking. Dangerous, I know, but I am very excited about what we can achieve this summer, allowing our kids an area to actually play in their own backyard and experience the grace of the natural world at the same time.
Have you ever heard of Natural Playscapes?
A dear friend of mine introduced me to it, and I have been wracking my brain on how to incorporate it into our own backyard oasis. The philosophy behind natural playscapes, is that you provide areas for kids to play in which are as much tuned to the natural world as possible. Slides aren’t on plastic or wood supports, but built into hills. Walkways are nothing more than natural stone, or paths cut into overgrown grass or flowers. Hideaways are built from towering sunflowers or willow branches.
This crazy Mama, whose muscles between her shoulder blades are sorer than sore from turning dirt everyday for the last four days, went to work on creating a doable, affordable, natural playscape for the kids. I bought a couple extra seed packets to create wildflower areas, with lots of butterfly attracting plants. I scrounged around our yard for flagstones left by the previous owners to create pathways behind the wildflower plot, for the kids to have a secret garden walkway. I staked out and added some extra soil to an 8×8 area to build them a sunflower hideaway with Evening Sun sunflowers, those stunning red petaled wonders with the yellow ring inside, after the last frost. And yesterday I dug away at yet another area of weeds and grass which will be filled with all different kinds of sunflowers, the 6-10′ Mammoth Russian, the 18 -24″ Sunspot, the 5-7′ Flash Blend mixed packet, the 16-24″ Elves Blend, and the 4′ Peach Passion, all to attract some lovely birds. I am still trying to put together a little seating area made out of tree stumps as a table and chairs, but we have some time for that…
So while we are working diligently on the other 2/3 of the yard this summer which won’t be play friendly, the kids will have fun exploring the world of sunflowers and fairy gardens while their Mama listens to their stories and toils away at not killing her tomatoes…
Spill it: Any ideas for creating natural playscapes of your own? And these don’t have to be just for kids! What kind of natural playscape do you dream of for yourself?Tweet