Friday, March 28, 2014

Where should we put a play structure?

We've been spending some time lately trying to select the best location for our kids' outdoor playset.

Our yard isn't huge.  We have great views of trees and expansive yards and common areas around us, and it all feels both open and private, but the fact is our property itself is on the conservative side.

We recently decided to get a play structure for the kids' 4th birthday present.  One of our favorite parks is a five minute drive away, but there are no parks within walking distance.  To make the most of our home and warmer weather play time, we are going for it.

After discovering that new ones of good size and quality run upwards of $3000, and knowing that having Mike build one isn't much cheaper and would likely cut into a lot of spring and summer play time (that was a nice way of putting it, wasn't it?), I started hitting Craigslist.  We were thrilled to find a good deal on this guy and got the ball rolling last weekend:

Selecting Child's Play Structure Location

Mike took a look and gave a deposit, and he will be going out to take it down and bring it home in pieces this weekend.  The next step is the one that's causing me to stare out windows and wander our yard quite a bit.  Where should we put it?

Selecting Child's Play Structure Location

This area above is what we consider the convenient one.  It's the flattest part of our yard, so leveling will be minimal.  It's right behind our driveway, so one kid could play there while the other swings and slides--no location compromise to be made during play time.

Selecting Child's Play Structure Location

Above is another view of that same spot.  The trouble with it is it's closer to the main road that runs alongside our subdivision (the SUV in the distance is just beyond it).  The farther from that, the safer I'll feel, but is the other end of the yard really that much safer?  And should it really concern me with relatively compliant four-year-olds who have never headed toward that particular road so far? 

That other end is below.

Selecting Child's Play Structure Location

The space to the left of the trees is a large common area where the kids can run around.  To the right is our neighbor's yard.  The foreground is our property where Mike would have to do some extensive leveling (and yes, that's snow--almost gone).  I like this more secluded space because it feels safer and just more pleasant.  But if one kid wants to do sidewalk chalk on the driveway while the other wants to swing, I would have to position myself pretty strategically to keep an eye on both. 

The third option is right outside our family room window (kind of in between these two locations).  It would break up our backyard quite a bit, especially since we hope to put in a patio next year right beside that.  But being able to watch the kids from the couch someday might be nice...

Mike is going to get out there with stakes and string so we can really visualize these options and the work that could go into both.

The other question that we ponder is ground cover. Should we go all the way and build a play area with wood chips/recycled rubber for safety and easier lawn mowing?  We're leaning no on that one, but I could be swayed.

What do you think?  If you put up a structure in your own yard, what area do you recommend for us?  Are there factors I'm not even considering? 

Quite likely, we'll just be glad to have swings and a slide and so on, regardless of of what location we choose for the play structure!  I can't wait to share this news with Michael and Sophie.  They might get as excited as I am.

See the update here!

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