How to Build an Outdoor Play Area

Updated February 21, 2017

Building an outdoor play area requires time, planning and a drive to complete the project within a financial and time budget. Using swings, water slides, pools and other outdoor accessories that are already built will take some of the burden off the project. With proper planning, you can build a backyard oasis for your family and friends. Follow the steps below. Dust off the tools---you've got some assembling and setting up to do.

Set a time line and budget.

Sketch your outdoor area on a piece of paper. Break the yard into possible stations--including a water activity area, eating area, swing/playhouse area, and sandbox/camping area. Mark designated areas with coloured markers.

Decide what items you wish to buy. Suggestions are in the "Things to Buy" list above.

Measure the ground under each station and determine how much and what type of materials you will need to cover the area. Will it need sand, rock or artificial turf to cover the area? Don't use asphalt and concrete under a children's play area. Sand, gravel, artificial turf, double shredded bark mulch and wood chips provide more protection.

Visit your local home improvement or discount store and buy your supplies. Look for sales and bargains.

Mow and rack any grass on the surface of your outdoor area. Set up the station with grass first. Then move to your next station and prepare the ground (pour sand, gravel or other material) before placing your jungle gyms and other assembled items.

Assemble outdoor items such as jungle gyms and swings in their stations.

Clean up any existing outdoor items you may have and place them into your new outdoor area. Don't be afraid to use items from last season.

Add chairs, tables, outdoor accessories and water to the pool next. Do any decorating at this point--plant flowers and shrubs, paint surfaces, place lights and torches.

Add fire pit, barbecue pit and any outdoor cooking supplies.

Sweep and clean any walkways table surfaces.


Recheck the screws and bolts of any assembled equipment. Don't use asphalt and concrete under a children's play area. Make sure all stations are clean and secure.


Keep all gas and fuel away from children. Place safety gates around any bodies of water if you have young children.

Things You'll Need

  • Notepad
  • Pen
  • Coloured Markers
  • Children items - dome tent, pre-assembled sandpit, inflatable pool or existing pool, pre-assembled water slide, pre-assembled swing set, pre-assembled jungle gym, plastic chairs and tables and pre-assembled playhouse.
  • Adult items - outdoor table and chairs, umbrella, washed gravel, plastic cups, spoons, plates, storage totes, barbecue grill, charcoal, lighter fluid, cooking utensils and fire pit.
  • Tools for assembling swings and jungle gyms (screwdriver, drills, drill bits, hammer)
  • Cleaning rags
  • Broom
  • Lawnmower
  • Rack
  • Water hoses
  • Pool chemicals
  • Rocks or artificial turf
  • Sand
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About the Author

Nick Davis is a freelance writer specializing in technical, travel and entertainment articles. He holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Memphis and an associate degree in computer information systems from the State Technical Institute at Memphis. His work has appeared in "Elite Memphis" and "The Daily Helmsman" in Memphis, Tenn. He is currently living in Albuquerque, N.M.