Feature Photo- Nature Nook at Mass Audubon’s Boston Nature Center. Design: studioMLA Architects


What do you do when your kids are bursting with energy, but you don’t have time to take them to the park? What if your backyard offered classic play opportunities like building a fort or making a mud pie?

A Yard & A Half’s team now includes Erica Quigley, a landscape designer with experience creating and managing children’s environments. We can help you design and build a play space in your backyard that will engage your children and double as a beautiful place for the whole family to enjoy. Our approach is tailored to your children’s ages and interests, as well as your priorities and budget. Here are some ideas to get your imagination going!


Erica’s Favorite Backyard Play Elements

toddler smells lilacs1. Sensory garden. Children like to feel fuzzy grass seeds, taste mint leaves, and crunch gravel under their feet. We can create a garden that engages all the senses and inspires children (and grownups) to use fresh herbs in the kitchen.

2. A “secret” hideout. We suggest a simple teepee or hut that lets kids make the space their own using branches, fabric, or other materials. They can modify the hideout as their interests and abilities change.

children play in natural sandbox with fountain
Sand and Water. Design: Carolyn Edsell-Vetter. Installation: A Yard & A Half

3. Sand. Especially when combined with water, sand is the ultimate play material for creating mini-worlds. Our experienced team will address concerns you might have about animals and tidiness.

4. Sand table/construction zone. Here’s the spot for messy projects and fun experiments. We can use rustic or contemporary-looking materials to combine elements of a play kitchen, a science lab, and a construction site. Careful planning will keep materials contained and screen undesirable views.

5. Grass maze. Ornamental grasses are a perfect solution for an underused sunny spot, especially if you know someone who likes hide and seek!

backyard firepit surrounded by seating area
Seating Area. Design: Boulder Images


6. Gathering spot. Older children look for a comfortable place to socialize that’s along the edge, where they can watch the action, but feel like they have their own space.

7. Raised bed. This can be a place for the whole family to grow veggies and flowers, or a smaller bed just for the kids.

Winding gravel path through lush garden
Lush Garden Path. Design: Barbara Popolow. Installation: A Yard & A Half

8. Winding paths. Curving pathways encourage wandering, chasing, and acting out imaginary journeys. A great way to connect your child with nature is to create a path through a mini-habitat. We can plant shrubs and perennials that attract birds and butterflies, or place rocks and logs for kids to discover what lives underneath.


We’re ready to work with you and your children to transform your backyard into a wonderful place to play and connect with the outdoors. Give us a call to learn more!