A pretty house with a big yard for the kids -- that's the dream, isn't it? But too often homeowners manicure their yards so perfectly that little bare feet aren't welcome in them. Instead of creating an outdoor museum, try landscaping your yard for the kids.
Homeowners who live on a busy road might feel uncomfortable letting their kids ride their bikes in the street or driveway. Instead of making the kids wait for a tired parent to load the car with bikes and take a trip to the park, create a tricycle trail in the backyard. Plan out an interesting path that's wide enough for a tricycle and lay down the same type of rubberized surface used on playgrounds in order to protect little ones from falls. Make the trail interesting for the kids by adding road signs along the path. Make it interesting for grown-ups by planting beautiful plants along the path.
Every kid needs a sandbox. Instead of choosing a garish plastic sandbox that will crack and fade in the sun, create a sand pit that is walled off with rocks, logs or stacks of pavers that match the patio. The best part about a sandbox like this is that when the kids outgrow it, it will easily convert into a flower or vegetable garden.
Homeowners who love a yard full of brightly colored wildflowers can make magic for little ones. Among the flowers, build hidden fairy houses and let kids add to them with natural elements they find in the yard, like sticks and leaves. Their imaginations will expand as they create stories about fairies moving through the flower beds at night while they sleep.
Sun protection is important, but it's hard to get kids to put on sunscreen and a hat every time they go outside. Instead, create some shade in the backyard. If the afternoon sun beats down on the sandbox, plant a small tree in its path. Build an arbor over a favorite play area and let vines trail over it to create a shady addition to your landscape. Vegetable gardeners can create bean teepees for kids. Tie six 6-foot poles together in a teepee shape, drive the loose ends into the ground and plant runner bean seeds at the base of each pole. As the plants grow, kids will have a shady place to play and a healthy snack to reach for when they get hungry.