Friday, July 7, 2017

The Backyard Playground Project: The Ridiculously Long-Overdue Update

Not long after I started this blog, I started a project. Remember this...? 

HI, indeed. It's okay if you don't remember. It was 8 years ago. 

In 2009, I took what used to be my childhood play structure, which had rotted away except for the 4x4 support poles, and started rebuilding it. But I didn't want to just make a copy of my old play structure. I wanted to take the essential elements, get creative, and make it my own.

I called this endeavor the Backyard Playground Project, and I blogged about it three times. (Part 1Part 2Part 3). And then... I never did another update. After some time went by, I thought, I'll update again when the playground structure is finished. Problem was, it's never been "finished." I'm always adding things. I may always be adding things. Forever.

But it's always bugged me that I never did another update after 2009. So today I finally went out and took pictures. Ta da! This is what the Backyard Playground Project looks like, as of July, 2017....

(Please excuse all the leaves & weeds!)

So what's been added since the last update? I'll try to go in chronological order.

I covered one of the sides of the lower clubhouse with 2x6 cedar boards. So now one side is completely walled. Another is walled except for an opening door. The third side is open, though a ladder blocks part of it. The fourth side has horizontal bars across it, but light can enter that side, and small child could crawl through the bars. 

It's a nice place to be. It's cozy and secretive without being dark and creepy.

I added two more locks to the little door inside. These have been one of the most popular features among little kids over the years. Kids love playing with those locks!

These painted wood circles on the sides of the ladder were added in early 2010, I think. A neighbor of mine was kind enough to saw a branch into 1/2 inch rounds for me, and I got some of my little cousins to paint them. I applied a sealant so the paint would not fade; then I nailed them on. They add just a touch of color.

They've really held up well, except for their bark... this is one of the few that still has its bark.

My only regret with these is that I wish I'd had the the kids (who painted them) put their names on them!

The slide was added in the early years as well. We got it at Home Depot. You may remember I was originally going to put a fireman pole there, but... for various reasons, I didn't go that route, and now there's a slide there instead. The green color of it is great because it actually sort of blends in with its surroundings. No eyesores, here!

It's not perfectly centered, as you can see, because we needed to give that cherry tree on the right some extra clearance.

I added a 2x4 across the top of the black chinup bar, for structural bracing/support reasons. I will say, this play structure seems very secure. Wobble, it does not.

Below is an example of "it's not quite finished, but here's a picture anyway"... originally what I did here was loop an old rope around these 2x4s, so it kind of looked like part of a pirate ship or something. But after a few years, the rope rotted, and I haven't replaced it yet. 

The last time my 2.5-year-old niece was here, she asked if this was a ladder. Which tells me... I need to go buy some new rope and put it on already.

I found this wooden window frame/planter at Good Will or somewhere and nailed it to one of the sides of the lower clubhouse, just for decoration.

I decided I wanted a second way for kids to climb to the upper level, so I added a "rock wall" to this side. Those "rocks" are just wood pieces that I chiseled, sanded and painted to have a rock-ish shape and color. They are attached through both their fronts and backs by screws, and can even hold my weight.

See that little dot above the door and to the left of the middle "rock"? That's a peephole, like for a front door. Kids inside the clubhouse can look and see who's at the door before unlocking it. :) (I've had some good times playing The Three Little Pigs with my little cousins.)

Remember the "HI" shape from the original picture? In the old days, there were monkey bars going across there, but during the remodel I actually used the rungs from the monkey bars to make the ladder. This time around, I installed a 6x6 cedar beam across there instead. Later, I installed two heavy-duty swing holders. That was a pain! But it's been great having a place to hang swings ever since. Years ago we picked up a bluish-green baby swing, which has gotten a lot of use....

Of course, I could have saved some money and effort by buying smaller swing hangers, if I only ever intended kids' swings to hang there. But I knew someday I'd want to get a hammock swing for me!

And so I have. 

Yeah, so this swing is currently attached with rope and is not utilizing the hangers at all, but that will soon change. I was merely testing it out today. I like it so far! Very comfy.

You may remember that one of my early aspirations was to have a marble run going along the side of the play structure. This never worked out. Long story. Ask me about it sometime if you're interested in the methods I tried and failed at.

Instead, I just added more fun things to the inside!

This valve, which turns like a ship's wheel, was purchased at the liquidation sale for the show Grimm.  I got it on one of the last days of the sale, so it ended up being cheap, and now I have a souvenir!

These red plastic gears, picked up who-knows-where, also can spin...

This I love....

 I got it at one of those industrial antique places. I don't know what it was used for originally (if anyone knows, please lmk!) but I drilled a hole into the wood, then attached this in front of the hole. What with the depth of the metal circle and the depth of the hole I drilled, there's just enough room to hide a small object or two.

So... I think that covers everything?

Like I said before, the most popular element has been the locking door. However, the swing has gotten a lot of use. Some kids like the slide a lot. Others, especially preschoolers, seem to think it goes a bit too fast.

My niece really likes playing on the lower bar, though I can't take credit for that, since that was part of the original structure.

The rock-climbing wall has never really caught on, but I'm glad there's something there, and who knows... maybe when my nieces are a little older they'll discover it.

I had so many ideas when beginning the Backyard Playground Project in 2009. Some ideas never made it, but that's okay. I'm happy with the way it has turned out. If I could change one thing, I think I would've built some kind of steps, rather than a ladder, to reach the upper level. The ladder, with its metal rungs, is a little iffy for small kids. Oh well... recycled materials = yay!

And, of course, if I had more space, I'd expand... build a suspension bridge... go crazy....

But this is what it is.

Stay tuned for my next update in, uh, 2025!

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