Sometimes having a smaller backyard can feel even more difficult to fill than a large one. Things like playsets, swings, and trampolines are no-brainers for a large outdoor space but often don’t fit smaller ones. So, what do you put back there?

Create play areas in the yard where you and your kids will want to spend time. We’ve compiled a list of projects, any of which you can easily complete over a weekend. Keep reading for our top ten small backyard ideas for kids.

Build a Sandbox or Gravel Pit

Sandboxes or gravel pits are perfect small backyard ideas for kids because they are contained. Make them as big or as small as you want, depending on your needs. Drill some 2x4s together, and you’re almost done.

Add shovels to a sandbox or toy construction vehicles to a gravel pit. Line the bottom with landscaping fabric to keep weeds from growing up. You might want to also consider constructing a lid to keep out animals. Plus, then you can store any toys inside for easy clean-up.

Child experts agree that playing in the sand is an excellent activity for growing children. Some of our favorite backyard activities involve playing in the sand!

Plant a Garden

A garden may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of a kid-friendly small backyard. However, it’s one of our favorite small backyard ideas for kids because it’s versatile. Besides being a great learning experience, you can get creative when building a garden bed:

  • Build a raised bed similar to a sandbox.
  • Make a portable garden out of a crate or bucket.
  • Keep valuable square footage free by planting in hanging pots.
  • Plant a vertical garden along an available wall.

You and the kids will love watching your plants grow. Let them pick produce when it’s ripe or grow flowers that attract pollinators.

Create an Arts and Crafts Area

Don’t feel like you’re missing out on having a trampoline in your small backyard. Put together an arts and crafts area in one corner of the yard. Include a shelf, table, and chairs. You’ll want to keep it near a water hose if you can. This area is the perfect spot for messy art projects you can’t do indoors!

Keep buckets of chalk so the kids can create artwork on a cement patio. Throw balloons full of paint onto a poster board, and then hose the kiddos down! Or keep baskets on the shelf for natural materials like leaves, rocks, and sticks. Create collages out of these items.

Install a Balance Beam or Slackline

One of our favorite small backyard ideas for kids is to install a slackline. It’s not difficult if you prepare. Many people don’t know that you can make a safe and effective slackline even if you don’t have trees in your yard. Slacklining is a great activity to get the kids out of the house and move around.

Build a balance beam in no time and adjust your plans for kids of all ages and skill levels. Both slacklines and balance beams are low to the ground and are narrow installs. That small footprint makes them an excellent idea for outdoor spaces where you don’t have a lot of square footage.

Build an Outdoor Mud Kitchen

Sometimes kids just need to get messy. Mud kitchens are a great way for kids to play pretend and use their hands. Make your mud kitchen as simple or elaborate as you want. Create a table or build a kitchen, and you’ll need access to mud.

Make this area a bald spot in the yard where the water hose reaches, or add a bag of topsoil to your kitchen. Add old mixing bowls, pots and pans, and utensils. Rocks, leaves, and flowers make great ingredients for mud pies, by the way.

Construct a Tiny Playhouse

A playhouse doesn’t have to take up a lot of room. It can be as simple as four walls and a roof and still be hours of fun. When it comes to small backyard ideas for kids, this may not have crossed your mind, but give us a chance.

Go vertical with multiple floors, or even create a tiny playhouse on stilts! Cut windows or install a front porch. Make the outside super detailed for maximum pretend potential without taking up a lot of space. A tiny playhouse is also a great place to store backyard toys at the end of the day.

Have a Picnic Area

You and your kids might be avoiding your backyard because there’s nowhere to relax out there. A simple solution is to create a place where they want to hang out. Soon you’ll find everyone spending more time in the yard!

A picnic table with a collapsible umbrella creates a great shady spot for summer lunches. Or, keep a picnic blanket and pillows in a tote by the door for easy carrying. Set everything up under your favorite shade tree in the grass.

Run Wild in the Sprinkler or Get a Small Splash Pad

A small backyard may not accommodate a pool, but it can still be a great place to cool off. These days you can find all kinds of sprinkler toys and splash pads that kids will never get tired of using.

Play the sprinkler-version of freeze tag or Simon Says! Turn on some music and have a dance-off under the sprinkler. When everyone’s ready to go inside, it’s easy to store away sprinklers and splash pads.

Build a Big Wooden Connect Four Board

Another idea that we love is building a giant Connect Four board that lives in your backyard. This game is fun for the whole family, you can build it over a weekend, and it looks great! It’s tall but narrow, so it doesn’t take up a lot of room.

Paint the board to match your backyard, or stain the game pieces for a more mature feel. You can move the board around the yard or secure it to the ground. This is a good idea if you have smaller children who might pull on the board.

Install a Tiki Toss Ring and Hook Game

Finally, on our list of small backyard ideas for kids, install a Toss Ring and Hook game. This game is equally challenging for all ages.

This game isn’t a big commitment: it’s easy enough to build that if you find no one playing with it, just take it down. Install it in a few hours, and it can last season after season! The plans are easy to customize, and the game is safe for kids to use on their own.

Final Comments

There you have it! Even small spaces can be tons of fun. Can you think of any other fun ideas for small backyards? Let us know! We just might add them to our list.

For more ideas, check out our full list of backyard ideas for kids and these other guides below.

About The Author

Scroll to Top