DIY: Building a Child's Outdoor Playground on the Cheap

Make a tire swing for your child's own personal playground.

If you want to create a playground in your backyard for your children, you do not have to go out and buy expensive play-equipment sets. With a little creativity and some input from your kids, you can make a land that will provide endless hours of fun for children young and old. Take an inventory of reusable items you have around, ask friends and family if they have materials and check out thrift shops. Your main objective is to create an area that will spark your children's imagination and sense of discovery.


Step 1

Assess where in your backyard you would like the playground to be. It does not necessarily have to be sequestered to one area of the yard, but make sure there is still space for yourself to barbecue, have your garden or lounge with friends.

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Step 2

Take an inventory of items around the house that you could convert into playground equipment. Used tires, an old kiddie pool and scraps of wood all have potential. Check out thrift shops, flea markets and used building supply yards for other materials.


Step 3

Build a tire swing using an old truck or tractor tire and a sturdy rope or chain with three eye bolts and three s-hooks. The length of rope or chain depends on how high you want the swing off the ground and how high the branch is. Drill holes in the bottom of the tire so rainwater does not accumulate. If you are using a rope, make sure to tie it with a sturdy knot, like a square knot. Hang the tire swing from a sturdy branch that is parallel to the ground.


Step 4

Make a sandbox with a used or cheap kiddie pool. Dig a hole in the ground that the pool will fit in and make it as deep as the pool's height. Fill the pool with sand and throw in some plastic containers, buckets, toy trucks or any other potential sand-play toys. Make sure to cover the sandbox with a tarp held down by rocks when it calls for rain.


Step 5

Build a trapeze with a 30-inch wooden dowel. The diameter of the dowel should be approximately 1 1/4-inches. Drill a hole on each side of the dowel, screw in or secure an eye bolt on each side and connect a piece of chain to each bolt. Hang the trapeze from a strong horizontal branch.


Step 6

Construct a fort with your kids that can become their secret hideout. Use branches, logs or wood scraps and ropes or nails. Make sure the fort is completely secure. You can even pitch an old tent or make a homemade lean-to out of pine branches. Be creative and have fun building with your kids.


Step 7

Use masonry or cement paint to turn a paved area into four-square or hopscotch courts or set up a basketball hoop. Other activity center ideas are making a horseshoe pitch, setting up a horizontal, plastic water slide with a sprinkler, or turning a small plot of land into your child's very own vegetable garden.


Collaborate with your children and find out what they would like to have in their playground. Encourage them to help you with the building process.

Things You'll Need

  • Old tire

  • Rope

  • Chain

  • Eye bolts

  • S-hooks

  • Drill

  • Kiddie pool

  • Sand

  • Tarp

  • 30-inch wooden dowel

  • Wood scraps, logs or branches

  • Masonry paint

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