I asked my Beloved’s help with a project and he came through beautifully. We’ve long had some sort of Little Tikes play structure in our yards since my eldest could toddle. There’s always been a few little cars or tractors too. But lately, I realized in a bittersweet sort of way that those structures weren’t be used anymore- and that when I sent them into the back yard to play, everyone sort of stood around and complained they were bored. There wasn’t a lot of room for kicking the soccer ball, and well, there wasn’t much “scope for the imagination” as our favorite red-headed Anne with an e calls it.
I wanted a more open-ended, natural play space that was a more appropriate size and scope for our elementary aged children. Perhaps more importantly, it couldn’t cost more than a few dollars. We cleared the entire back yard out, gave away our Little Tikes structures, raked and cleaned up, and then stood back to evaluate the space. I kept eyeing a structure my husband had built from pallets to store firewood. What if? (I should note here that we were lucky to have a lot of untreated pallets from James’ job.) He laughingly acquiesced but did ask where we were going to put the firewood now?
We pulled it out into the middle of the yard and removed its tarp cover. James had some leftover bamboo screening from another project that he cut to fit the ‘roof’, and we pulled a few more pallets around to make ‘porches’. What I like about this structure is that it is not just a house- it is a stage- it is a ship… and a couple more incarnations since the children began playing with it. We piled some leftover firewood into the more imaginary than real fire pit behind the ‘back porch’. We want to bring some stumps from a friends house to make some seating around the fire pit (and also to make some climbing and balancing possibilities).
Our square-foot garden on wheels is currently in the very back portion where the sunlight is best at the moment. It shifts around the yard over the growing season. While at the hardware store later that weekend, we found some flowers on clearance for $.50 or $1.00 and we tucked them into our old windowboxes (which we were going to get rid of), and so their little space even has a bit of beauty. Our grand total cost? $4.50, for the flowers. It came out so wonderfully, even more useful than I could have imagined. Our back yard is fun again, and the children spend as much time out there as they possibly can- even our seventh grader. I call that a win!