A Rock Play Garden

how to make a play garden 3

One of the things my son enjoys the most is playing in the pile of rocks next to the garden. So I decided to turn this into his very own Play Garden.

Making a Play Garden

1. Picking a Spot

Ideally, the spot should be shady. It can be full of rocks (like ours), on a dirt base (like this one from The Imagination Tree), or even in a large rectangle bucket you can bring inside (like this one from Picklebums).

2. Materials to Use

Here are some ideas of materials to use for a play garden:

  • Rocks or cement bricks
  • Coloured pebbles
  • Plastic plant pots
  • Saucepans
  • Old utensils
  • Easy to care for plants
  • Pebbles or rocks
  • Section of PVC Pipe (cut in half or whole for water play)
  • Outdoor toys
  • Plastic figurines (eg. animal or little people)
  • Toy insects
  • Cups
  • Gardening tools (like a spade and fork)
  • Cutlery
  • Shells
  • Toy Wheelbarrow
  • Digger
  • Outdoor trucks
  • Bucket
  • Pieces of wood
  • Easy to grow plants

3. Collecting The Materials

Creating a Rock Play Garden doesn’t need to be expensive. In fact, you’ll probably find most of the things you need around the house. It’s also easy to find bits and pieces to include at second hand shops. I already had a section of the garden allocated for our Play Garden, but I wanted to make it special so decided to line it with painted cement bricks. I purchased light coloured concrete bricks (perfect for painting) for 52 cents each!

{shopping for bricks}

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4. Decorate

I used paint pens to decorate the bricks because they dry almost instantly and are easy to work with. You can find paint pens at most newsagents, art suppliers and stationery stores.  Regular acrylic paint works well too.  However, it’s a good idea to use an outdoor varnish to seal the paint so the paint doesn’t fade. I’ve had success doing outdoor paint projects with Jo Sonja’s Gloss Varnish – Indoor & Outdoor Use.

{decorating the play garden bricks}

how to make a play garden

5. Arrange

We picked out a Black Prince succulent plant which is easy to care for. We will probably add some more plants soon. I left some weeds in the rock garden because Son likes them (and they do add a bit of colour). The rest of the play garden materials we arranged at the back of the garden for Son to use.

{putting the play garden together}

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6. Play

I enjoyed doing this project with my son, right from the shopping trip to painting of the bricks. I can see it being his special place to play for a long time to come.

{Son’s play garden}

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External Links

There are more play garden ideas on my Pinterest Kids Outdoors Spaces Board.

{click the picture to see my play garden board}

kids play garden

Other Be A Fun Mum Outdoor Links

Playing With Your Kids (a confession)

How to Make a Flower Head Wreath

A Fairy’s Home or a Pirates Trap

Nature Hunt

The Best Family Adventure: Geocaching

Op Shop Cubby

Backyard Games

It’s the Fun You Have Along the Way

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  • Reply
    July 26, 2011 at 9:16 am

    What a great place for boy play! Here’s a thought – can you get PVC pipe split in half longways? I was thinking what fun he would have using them as canals (summer) or with no water just as slides for his little cars. They can butt onto each other and be laid out as he needs them? I think I’ve seen on a preschool site (TeacherTom?) lots of great outdoor stuff like water wheels and sand wheels too that I reckon make wonderful exploratory toys.

    • Reply
      Kelly Be A Fun Mum
      July 26, 2011 at 9:20 am

      Fantastic idea for Summer. I’m adding it to the list. Thanks BC.

  • Reply
    Kate @ Puddles and Gumboots
    July 26, 2011 at 9:20 am

    That’s fantastic! He obviously had loads of fun picking things and helping set it up by the expression on his face in the photos! I am so in love with outdoor play spaces at the moment. We are in the process of putting in a sand pit and an outdoor mud kitchen at the moment. Unfortunately we are still in the rental trap so have only recently gotten permission from our landlord. I want to plant some herbs near the mud kitchen for an extra sensory aspect to it, you’ve inspired me to see if I can include some rocks and pebbles somewhere too! 🙂

    • Reply
      Kelly Be A Fun Mum
      July 26, 2011 at 8:36 pm

      Herbs are a great idea. I especially love lavender so I might get some of that next.

  • Reply
    Kate @ Puddles and Gumboots
    July 26, 2011 at 9:24 am

    Ooh I like the PVC pipe idea too!

  • Reply
    Kelly Lock
    July 26, 2011 at 9:34 am

    My 5 year old son just saw the picture of your rock play garden and said, “Oooooh, can we go there?” hehehe, I will have to think of a good spot for one in our yard!

  • Reply
    July 26, 2011 at 9:52 am

    I love it. Now that the house and deck are done and it’s stopped raining outside play for the girls is next on my list.

  • Reply
    July 26, 2011 at 11:09 am

    LOVE this Kel, will absolutely do this when our sonshine gets a little bigger and his 3 big sisters are at school!! thanks, great post!!!!

  • Reply
    Annabel Candy, Get In the Hot Spot
    July 26, 2011 at 7:53 pm

    Hi Kelly, fun mum by name, fun mum by nature. Looks like a great way to keep the little lad entertained. I am always keen to get mine playing outside and nothing made them happier than creating potions by mixing stones, leaves, dirt and anything else they could find in a bucket and stirring it up:)

    Just goes to show – it really is the little things in life that make us happy!

    • Reply
      Kelly Be A Fun Mum
      July 26, 2011 at 8:42 pm

      Great to see you here Annabel! I absolutely agree: simple things ARE happy.

  • Reply
    July 27, 2011 at 12:47 pm

    We really need to do this. Our yard is pretty much a no go zone with a heap of ticks thanks to the local bandicoot.

    • Reply
      Kelly Be A Fun Mum
      July 27, 2011 at 2:39 pm

      Oh no! That’s a shocker. Hope you can find one small spot for a rock garden. It’s gold!

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