Natural Backyard Playgrounds (Full Guide, Equipment & Ideas) - Gardenia Organic (2023)

Are you looking for ideas for a natural backyard playground? You are in the right place.

Ideas for landscape design

Ideas for landscape design

A natural backyard playground has many benefits and is becoming increasingly popular with parents.

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Creating a natural playground in your backyard can be really fun and there are ideas for every budget and ability.

One of the great things about creating a backyard like this is that your kids can help - they're often way more creative than us when it comes to coming up with these ideas.

Table of contents

What is a nature playground?

For anyone new to the concept of natural playgrounds, the idea is simple.

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A natural backyard playground is a playground created from natural resources such as:

  • Earth
  • Holz
  • Water
  • stones
  • and rope

Very little (or no) metal or plastic is used and they are truly sustainable.

All non-natural resources used are recycled materials.

Let's take a look at some of the countless ideas for natural backyard playgrounds.


Tree stumps are perfect additions to any natural backyard playground.

If you have an old tree stump in the ground, you don't have to dig it up to use it - it can be useful as is.

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Embrace it in an obstacle course, turn it into a seat, or craft it into oneFeenhaus. The possibilities are endless!

If you've removed a tree stump and want to make something out of it, there are many ways to do it.

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You can cut it into large circular pieces (about six inches thick or less) and place them on the ground to create a path or hopscotch.

Thicker stumps (12 inches) are great for seating, for example to create a picnic area or an area around a fire pit.

An impressive, natural climbing structure can be created by using stumps of different heights.

Putting larger ones in the center and creating a pyramid shape is one idea, but use your imagination for something your kids would love to play on.

Finally- Stumps are a great addition to any type of obstacle course. You can even incorporate notches for hand or foot grips into larger ones to encourage creative climbing and use.


Since we've talked about stumps, it makes sense to talk about tree trunks next.

Tree trunks are almost as versatile as tree stumps!

You might want to smooth them out a bit so they aren't as rough, but that depends on what you intend to use them for.

Logs are great for sitting on, but if you want to add a little more fun to them, they make great balance beams.

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The great thing about logs is that you can put them anywhere and kids can just let their imaginations run wild.

One minute it's a train, the next they're walking the plank of a pirate ship.

If you're really up for a challenge, why not try making a seesaw out of a log?

Hollow tree trunks

When you come across a big hollowed out log, this is a great play tunnel for kids.

If it's not big enough to climb in, you can get creative with it to do a shoot for pinecones or pebbles that roll down.


Rocks should definitely be included in all natural backyard playgrounds. They are so much fun.

Position very large rocks in an obstacle course or alone for climbing and jumping.

Alternatively, use smaller, smooth stones in a building area.

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Add some buckets or a wagon and encourage your kids to bring out their inner engineer.

How about a pulley system to really get them thinking?

Or an outdoor scale to play around with the weight.

use of the landscape

If your yard isn't flat and has some natural ups and downs, be sure to take advantage of this!

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When creating your own natural backyard, the natural landscape should be used to make the playground unique and original.

For example, turn the hills into fortresses or climbing areas and the troughs into a watercourse.

If you have a big hill, attach a rope to the top for kids to climb.


We've already mentioned stumps and logs, but another thing you should definitely take advantage of is any established living trees in your yard.

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When they are 1.5 to 2 feet wide, they are an ideal climbing structure.

If their branches don't make them naturally climbable, attach:

  • a rope ladder
  • climbing ropes
  • a rope swing
  • orhammock

Create a creative zone

If you've read research on how to harness children's developing brains, you know why this type of activity is so good.

Allocate a space in your garden dedicated to creating, developing, and general tinkering with things.

Just provide resources like acorns, leaves, twigs, pine cones, bark, vines, dried bamboo or whatever else you have on hand and let your kids get creative.

Build a clay kitchen

There's something about mud that most kids just love, and a mud kitchen is a great place for kids to develop their creativity and role-play skills.

For example, there are many wonderful clay kitchen designs on Pinterest, but all you really need is:

  • a children's bench
  • some wooden bowls
  • and wooden utensils

When winter comes, it's easy to convert a mud kitchen into a snow kitchen!

A sandbox

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There are many ways you can add onesandboxinto a natural backyard playground, and you can be creative with how these fit into the backyard.

You don't have to go down the traditional-looking sandbox route.

There are some creative ideas online, with some people even filling old wooden boats with play sand to create a desert island feel.

One thing is for sure, no matter how you add to the sandpit or sandpit, your kids will want tools to rake, dig, and move the sand.

A room to swing

Is a playground really a playground without swings?

There are countless ideas for natural playground swings.

The simplest is a knotted rope hanging from a sturdy branch.

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Or you could use rope and a plank of wood to create a standard swing seat.

If you have the space (and are creative enough!) you can build an entire swing bridge by connecting lots of wooden planks with chains or rope.

Create a marker area

Tagging is so important for growing children.

It's great to pop out colors every once in a while, but sometimes you want something a little less messy.

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There are so many possibilities in a natural playground.

You could create a marker wall with framed areas to "paint" with a brush and water.

You could even work chalkboard paint into some of the frames and give them different ways to take pictures.

Water - good clean fun

Water feature is so easy to create and kids just love it.

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They don't need expensive water features or playground toys, often a trough and some leaves and sticks will keep them boat building for hours!

Here are some ideas for using water creatively in the garden:

  • Mount gutters on a wall or fence so they can pour water and float boats down. This can also be used for balls and marbles!
  • Use recycled bottles to build a water wall
  • Use halved, hollowed logs to build a watercourse
  • Use cement creatively to create shallow natural pools that fill up when it rains

Create a build area

With the right resources, children often come up with the best ideas!

A nature playground is a great place for children to develop their technical skills.

Just provide them with building materials such as wooden planks, blocks, rocks and bricks and let them decide for themselves what to build.

All kids need are a few moving objects and their imagination. These areas are also great for teaching children about risks.

Create a sensory garden

A natural backyard playground should still be a living garden with plants and flowers.

One way to incorporate plants into your natural playground is to create a sensory garden.

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This is a garden area that offers different sensory experiences.

It will stimulate the senses individually or in combination.

Here are some ideas of what a sensory garden might include:

  • A water feature to see, hear and feel
  • Natural, structured surfaces to touch
  • Natural musical instruments such as hollowed wood and hammers or chimes
  • Plants with vibrant colors
  • Herbs and aromatic plants to smell
  • things to taste
  • A barefoot path

Let's take a closer look at each of these points.

Water features for sensory gardens

Water features are a great addition to a sensory garden and a natural backyard playground.

A still pool that ripples to the touch or a gently flowing water feature are both excellent ways to demonstrate a sense of calm and relaxation.

They are also great for touching and listening.

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Natural, structured surfaces

Children love to touch things and a sensory garden is an ideal place to encourage them to do so.

Create a kid-friendly sensory wall with natural textures.

You could use bark, bamboo canes, pebbles, sand, pine cones, grass, or any other natural material you can think of.

Another idea is to grow bamboo and ornamental grasses that rustle when touched.

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Natural Musical Instruments

Natural Backyard Playgrounds (Full Guide, Equipment & Ideas) - Gardenia Organic (12)

There are some fantastic outdoor musical instruments that you can buy online for natural playground backyards.

However, you don't have to buy anything at all.

Some hanging sticks, log slides and a hammer still make great sounds!

Plants with vibrant colors

When talking about sensory gardens, it's often easy to forget the visual and focus on the other senses!

An area of ​​bright flowers (red, yellow and orange) will bring energy and draw attention.

These are a great idea for areas where you want to encourage activity.

Cool colors like blue and purple, on the other hand, are ideal for a calm reflective area.

Red, Orange and Yellow

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Here are some ideas for bright, warm plants:

  • marigolds
  • sunflowers
  • Zinnie
  • marigold
  • snapdragons
  • Swiss chard

blue and purple

  • irises
  • Lavender
  • Clematis
  • thimble
  • Dwarf purple rhododendrons
  • lily of the valley

herbs and aromatic plants

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Here are some great ideas for an immersive sensory experience in your backyard playground:

  • Basil– this is easy to grow and just touching the leaves releases their delicious scent.
  • sage- Pluck some leaves and crush them to release their scent.
  • Curry-Pflanze– Unlike many sweet herbs, the leaves of the curry plant smell like curry spices!
  • mints– there are many different types of mint and it is such a delicious scent.
  • Fragrant geraniums
  • Lavender
  • chocolate cosmos– exudes a wonderfully sweet chocolate aroma

things to taste

Depending on the time of year and where you live, you can create a great space for kids to try things!

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Here are some ideas for things to grow:

  • tomatoes
  • Cucumber (bush varieties are best as they can grow on a trellis)
  • Swiss chard
  • Spinach
  • lettuce
  • Pfeffer
  • carrots
  • radish
  • Edible flowers (marigolds, nasturtium)
  • raspberries
  • blueberries
  • apples
  • pears
  • cherries

A barefoot path

A barefoot trail is a great way to get kids exploring different textures underfoot.

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It's a good idea to mix up a range of solid and loose surfaces.

Here are some things you could add to your trail:

  • Smooth, large pebbles
  • Choose
  • To call
  • cement
  • bare earth
  • Holz
  • Gras

Other Natural Playground Backyard Ideas

We have so many other ideas it's impossible to share them all!

If you haven't had enough ideas yet, here are some more to get you thinking:

  • A garden archway
  • A willow cave
  • A concrete waterway
  • A gravel and excavator pit
  • A tree house and a roller basket
  • A bean teepee
  • A meadow garden.

Final Thoughts on Natural Backyard Playgrounds

You don't need a huge yard to have a great natural playground—nor do you need to be very creative or crafty at crafting.

Most kids will have their own fun with the right gear!

Design your natural backyard playground so that there are endless learning and play opportunities for your kids.

All you need are some things to build and create with. The rest is up to you!

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