We discovered that education is not something which the teacher does, but that it is a natural process which develops spontaneously in the human being.
— Maria Montessori
Backyard Plans

Backyard Plans

I haven't read Spark Joy (the book by Marie Kondo about tidying up) [UPDATE: I have read the book now!] but I am familiar with one main point: don't keep something that isn't useful and doesn't bring you joy. I'm paraphrasing, but I've been thinking about it a lot. And sometimes, even if something looks nice, it isn't functional and we don't need to keep it. Cameron and I have never been hoarders; we like to downsize, donate, repurpose, etc. Any way we can clear clutter, we aim for that!

The backyard is one of those places that is in progress.

You see, we moved into this new house a few months ago. And the backyard is crazy small. There's about 6 feet from the back patio area to where "the hill" starts. You see, there's a (very) small portion of the yard that's flat. Off to the left, it slopes downward toward our neighbor's yard (we have a fence as a barrier between ours and theirs). And after the 6 feet of flat ground, there's a big hill. I mean, it's probably a 30-degree incline. If I look out the window from my kitchen, I only see HILL. It's pretty doggone steep and at the top of the hill, there's more fencing that blocks our yard from other neighbors.

The previous owners stuck bushes on most of the hill and some flowering trees at the top, along the fence.

Don't get me wrong... the bushes and little trees are cute! Some people would love them. But they serve no purpose for us. We can't use that space AT ALL. And with a toddler and new baby, we really want to create a play space. There's not enough flat ground to put in a set of swings, or a slide, or anything really. So I started thinking, how can I utilize that hill? And I came up with an awesome Ninja Warrior sort of idea.

I feel a tiny bit guilty about getting rid of the bushes, but they don't bring us joy or functionality. I'd rather get rid of the landscaping so that my kids can have an awesome place to play! 

Here is the current plan. I'm 100% sure that some things will be added, removed, or moved around, but this is my vision!


Along the top, we plan to leave (but trim) the flowering trees and create a flat walkway. The general idea is that there will be multiple ways to get up the hill and multiple ways to get back down.


On the far left, I want to dig into the hill and create natural stairs. We'll reinforce them with either lumber or stones, whichever is cheaper. Next to the stairs we'll put in a slide that's approximately the length of the hill.


We won't have to dig into the hill too much for this, but I'd like to create log steps that go up the hill, juuuust far enough apart that you have to work a tiny bit to get from one to the other.


At the bottom, somewhere in the middle, we plan to put a simple balance beam, maybe just 6 inches off the ground.


Going up the hill will also be a rock climbing wall, like the one below! I'm not sure if we'll build one or buy one that's pre-made.


I think it would be cool to have a climbing net as another way to go up and down. It's sort of like a spider web. My only concern is that, unsupervised, it may be a strangulation hazard (I am not sure; I haven't looked into the safety of it yet).


There's something that's like monkey bars, but they are little handles. I would like to put in a set of monkey bar handles, going up the hill somehow. It may not work, like, at all, but it is something I am considering!


I'm not sure what else to call this, but we'll basically just dig into the earth (or maybe use some pipes or maybe use a hollow log, like the picture below) to create a ball pathway that goes from the top to the bottom of the hill. This would NOT be a way to get back up the hill though, unless we added little handles or steps along the ball course.

I was also thinking of a zipline, buuut there isn't much room to play with. And if it started at the top of the hill, by the time you got to the bottom, you'd fly into the house because it's so steep.

So far that's our plan! We have done basically nothing. I've done some research for pricing. Cameron tore out some of the bushes. And I have done a ton of searches online for inspiration. The goal is to have it completed by around June, when he has his birthday, but even if just parts of it are complete by then, I'll be happy!

Do you have any other backyard ideas that would work well on a hill?
An Activity Table

An Activity Table

Earth Week Plans

Earth Week Plans