turning a forest into a play space

The house that we live in now is the house we moved into after Dave and I split up. In a couple of weeks, we will have lived here 4 years. One of the things I initially loved about this place was the yard. It’s full of giant, old shade trees, and the backyard is basically a forest. As long as I took care of the front yard (and let’s be real: I pay a guy to do that for me because I am a slacker about yardwork), I didn’t have to do anything with the back. Since we’re close to a couple of big parks, during the winter months, I regularly see deer wandering through our backyard. It’s nice.

But a few times now, Catie has made comments like, “When we move to our next house, maybe we can have a yard where we can play.” And look, I’m not planning on moving anytime soon. This house is about 1/2 mile from Dave’s apartment, and 2 miles or less from my parents, Lucy’s daycare, and Catie’s school. Basically everything we need is either within walking distance, or we can drive it in less than 5 minutes. We are where we need to be.

So, after getting the ok from my landlord, I asked Chris if he could help me turn the backyard from a forest into a usable space for the kids to have a play area. Half of the backyard is on a sloping hill with a lot of dips and tree stumps, and it leads down to a small ditch, so it’s not really safe for kids. But honestly, in all the time we’ve lived here, I never really noticed that nearly half of my backyard is a flat space, it was just completely overgrown to the point where you couldn’t see much of it.

This is what we were starting with:
Backyard before our cleanup project.
(The angle on this pic is odd because it was taken from an upstairs bedroom window – it was the only way to see the whole area.)

Note the green tarp off to the side – there was a huge woodpile over there, which we found was completely infested with termites. So, that had to go away.

And let me say, Chris gets a TON of the credit for this project that’s eaten most of our last few weekends. This is where it comes in handy to live with a guy who grew up on a farm, because he knows how to get stuff DONE. He chopped down trees and dug up their roots, while I raked and dug up all of the weeds that were sprouting up.

Eventually we got it all cleared out, my yard guy came to haul all of our debris to the dump for us (he’s the only person I know who has a trailer that could do it), and we put down landscape timbers to section off the part of the backyard I wanted to use for the play area.

Backyard project, midway through
Please ignore the random tools strewn about, and the Gatorade bottle on the deck railing.

Then we ordered a few cubic yards of playground matting mulch. The kids had fun with the giant mulch pile.
Catie next to the mulch pile (doesn't really show just how huge it was)
Queens of Mulch Mountain

Eventually we got the mulch spread over the entire play area (the landscape timbers are there to make sure the mulch doesn’t wash away when it rains), and finally, we put together my early Christmas present from my parents: a swing for the backyard.

New backyard swing!

They were pretty excited about it. I couldn’t even get them to get out of the swing when I tried to take a picture of the entire yard.

Backyard project "after".

I like that there’s plenty of open space where they can run around and play. There are a couple of things I still want to do, like put stepping stones from the patio to the play area, so the girls don’t go stomping on the monkey grass every time they go outside. But the big stuff is all finished, and I’m really excited about it.

Of course, we got all of this finished just in time for winter, so they probably won’t get a ton of use out of it over the next few months. But it’ll be ready for them next spring, and I’m already looking forward to it.

  1. Bro . Pinnex Just got home from the trip and wanted to tell you thank you again for the opttuprniuy to be a part of the missions trip. My wife and I had our hearts touched for this difficult and unique mission field. We will defin itley be praying for you luke 18:1Love the Allens