10 easy hacks to turn your garden into an outdoor haven for children

With the extra bank holidays and summer holidays rapidly approaching are you already planning days out to get your children into the fresh air and away from screens for some of the time?

Trips out are great but can be expensive and they involve you 100%. A much-overlooked resource, that many of us are lucky enough to have, is our very own outdoor space - our back garden.

I very clearly recall that verging on hysterical tone in my voice - ‘GO OUTSIDE AND PLAY’ as my children were quite literally bouncing off the walls! It’s not rocket science to note that a child’s boisterous, bouncy and sometimes even destructive unacceptable behaviour inside is totally acceptable behaviour outside - shouting, bouncing, jumping, climbing, screeching, leaping, throwing, chasing, wrestling to name but a few!  So, give yourself a break and get them outside.


Children are programmed to be boisterous and curious and need the opportunities to be so. They are growing healthy bodies and healthy minds.

But….  I also recall when I ordered them outside that I would be met with a chorus of protest ‘But there’s nothing to do outside!’

It’s an investment to think ahead to these moments.  How can you make outside more inviting than inside this holiday? Just imagine a life where your children will play happily in the garden without you and you can have a well-deserved cup of coffee (or a G+T).

No matter the size of your budget or the size of your plot, there are many ways to tempt your children outdoors.

How to create an inviting outdoor play space

Creating an inviting outdoor play space does not have to be expensive and it’s great to involve your children in its creation so they have ownership of and responsibility for it.

Here are 10 ideas that I used both as a teacher & a mum:

  1. Create a couple of pits with wooden edges. One for sand and one for gravel/pebbles - you can put a weed proof membrane at the bottom.
  2. Get a water barrel, a hose, a collection of guttering and a trough for water play and trust the children to access it independently.
  3. Make a simple mud kitchen from old pallets, maybe a discarded cupboard with pots and pans and wooden spoons from the charity shop.
  4. Find room for a small, raised vegetable bed or a trough that they can tend. Grow sunflowers, radishes, carrots, and runner beans for almost instant success.
  5. Add shade - a tree or some strung up awning and a picnic blanket to sit on for quiet times.
  6. We added a little shed for them to use.
  7. Fix an old door to a fence for a painting easel. Use guttering along the bottom for the paint pots (you can get extra wide bulldog clips from Lakeland to secure the paper).
  8. Repurpose paved paths for bikes and ride-ons with archways (tunnels), over which you can grow climbers.
  9. Add spades and buckets, plastic containers with dinosaurs. Cars, trucks, small figures which you can leave outside (we sorted their toys into outdoor and indoor).
  10. Create a fire pit area where you can join them to toast marshmallows, enjoy mugs of pre-bed cocoa and muse over their day. This could be an actual fire-pit or strip back some turf and surround with stones to delineate the area.

Playing in the Garden

Once you’ve got the basics then you can suggest more activities for them to do:

  • Make magic potions - they can have hours of fun collecting natural ingredients, handfuls of soil, colourful petals and mixing their very own potions.

  • Become an expert den builder. Children love creating their very own shelter and they can kit it out as their own personal sanctuary.

  • Encourage birds into the garden by making bird feeders and learn to identify our most common British birds.

  • Create a Fairy Garden. Use a baking tray or seed tray to create a miniature garden and leave it out overnight to see if any fairies come to use it.
  • Make a bug hotel in the corner of the garden. Use recycled materials and then become an entomologist as you observe the creatures that move in.

  • Press flowers for decorative art and craft projects such as greeting cards, gift tags and tea-light holders. You can get good results from common garden flowers and weeds such as daisies and buttercups.

  • Learn to make a fire with a fire striker (this time you will need to be there)!

Spending time outside is good for all of us but we don’t always have the time or resources to visit lots of outdoor destinations (that’s why we started The Den Kit Co!). So let’s use our own outdoor spaces to provide that important outside time. And, if you can make a few tweaks to provide a child garden haven, you will afford yourself some well-deserved peace and quiet!