3 bright ways to make a backyard add to family fun
As every child knows and some grown-ups remember, an empty backyard, however large, isn’t nearly as much fun as the one, no matter how small, that has that something extra for play.
Even for that most special kind of recreation known as “doing nothing,” we need encouragement from our environment. This encouragement can range all the way from a child’s playhouse to a barbecue and entertainment center or an imaginative tool house (could be a playhouse too!). And they needn’t be elaborate. Sometimes the simplest means, as in the play castle here, yields the most imaginative results.
So, if your family never stays home because “there’s nothing to see there,” look here for ways to pep up your yard or garden. (Don’t let the family see this story if you think your yard is “good enough.”) There are construction details for each.
Miniature-barn tool house
This miniature-barn tool house, appropriately painted barn red, is just the right size for your own backyard.
The lower sections of the roof tilt open for access to the overhead storage loft for window screens and folding lawn chairs. At the back, double doors open onto a ramp wide enough to wheel in the lawn mower or the roller. The interior walls are covered with pegboard for hanging garden tools. And there is room for a small potting area.
If you don’t need a separate tool house, it could just as easily become a playhouse — or play barn, as the case may be.
Deck & outdoor kitchen
Meals in the treetops are a specialty with the Harry Lehmans of Kentfield, California, since they built their deck and outdoor kitchen.
Before, the land in back of their house was nearly useless because of the steep 20-foot drop. But by building a wood deck over the hill they added nearly 2000 square feet of level space. The food center is set up for ease in cooking and serving outdoor meals.
Overhead doors swing down garage-door style to close the kitchen between meals. You can build your outdoor kitchen too — just [see below] for the building instructions.
A beautiful backyard castle
Any little girl would feel like a princess if she had her own backyard castle! This one was designed by Matt Kahn of Palo Alto, California, for young princess Claire Kahn. Mrs Kahn did the decorating. The tent itself was built of simple canvas and plastic panels.
The roof panels are wired to a metal pipe frame that rests on 1×4 uprights. The walls are triangular tab flaps that are staked to the ground tent-style and straight panels that roll up to become windows. The floor is poured concrete studded with some crown jewels (colored marbles). The castle turret is tall enough for grown-up visitors; an imaginary moat keeps away intruders.
MORE: For another castle design, see this story: Build a dream-come-true play house in your backyard (1962)
Retro backyard barn: Design plans
Your lumber dealer can help you estimate materials. Sides and floor are hardboard over plywood. Roof is shingled.
Retro outdoor kitchen: Construction design
The dimensions should be adjusted to fit the size of the kitchen appliances you plan to install. The outside dimensions can be changed, naturally, to fit the space you have.
Vintage backyard castle: How to build it
The roof is welded 1/2″ copper tubing (available from plumbing suppliers) attached to the wood frame with metal clips bolted to the tubing. Panels are wired to the frame.