We created an outdoor play area for the kids in one afternoon for about $50. It felt like a big win! We want to share how you can make an outdoor play area for your kids for cheap, too!
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Why we created a DIY outdoor play area
We wanted to make an area that would hold the kids’ play set and sandbox and be easy to mow around. We also wanted something that would make the yard look a little more orderly.
However, most outdoor play space designs take a lot of time and money, and we didn’t want to spend a lot of either to hold our swing set that we got for free. Haha. Wood border beams are costly (and continuing to go up), and a lot of the other methods we found just took a ton of time.
Fortunately, with this method, we were able to finish the play area in less than a day and keep it very close to $50. The kids love it, and it makes mowing the back yard so much easier!
Here’s a before and after of the play space.
How can you save money on an outdoor play space for kids?
Here are some ways we saved money on our outdoor play space:
- Do the work yourself
- Dig a landscape trench instead of purchasing border beams
- Search Facebook Marketplace for play equipment
- See if your city (or a city nearby) sells mulch for cheap
Our city sells bucketloads of mulch for $2 each. We can fill up the back of our pickup for $4. The mulch is actually chips from projects that the guys do around the city, so it’s not pristine mulch like you would buy from a landscaping company. However, the price is right, and it actually works really well for this project (and looks pretty good, too!).
We’ve heard that many other cities do this to make a couple bucks on their extra materials (and clear out their space). It doesn’t hurt to call your city’s department of public works and ask!
What materials do you need for an outdoor play area?
- Weed barrier landscape fabric
- Landscape staples
- A shovel
- A tape measure
What does it cost to build an outdoor play area for kids?
Here’s the price breakdown for our 11′ x 19′ kids’ play area:
- Landscape fabric – $40
- Landscape staples – $9
- Mulch – $4
Total = $53
How to make an outdoor play area for kids for cheap
It took us about half a day to make this DIY playground area. Here’s how we did it.
- Mow the grass in your area as short as you can
- Measure out your play area, marking the corners with spray paint. Make it as big or small as you like. You can use the 3-4-5 method to make sure your corners are square.
- Lay out a string line or a hose from corner to corner in order to get a straight line as you dig.
- Cut the edge around all four sides like you would for a mulch bed. We cut ours about 4″-6″ deep, straight down, so that the chips can slope into it. This makes it super easy to mow around. (Here’s how the cut edges look.)
- Once the edges are cut, lay landscape fabric across the area, securing it with landscape staples.
- Lastly, dump your mulch on the area, spreading it about 3″ deep throughout.
That’s all there is to it! Move your play equipment onto your new outdoor play area, and enjoy your kids!
Wonderful job! We’re outside as often as possible and are always looking for more inspo. Thanks for sharing!
Such a great idea, I bet this makes mowing so much easier!