Cool DIY backyard playground {with FREE plans}

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Are you creating an entire structure from a single element? Back in March, I bought an 8ft slide from Facebook marketplace for $20 and on the way home I knew this slide was going to need a home. The idea for a great DIY backyard playground was born that day.

I started my research and realized there weren't a lot of detailed plans for someone looking to build a compact backyard playground with slides. So I decided to record everything and share it with you! It will make a great addition to our backyard. I already did Water sensory table for 2 people last year and for complete happiness we will only need a sandbox ;D

Is it cheaper to build your own playset?

Buying this type of structure quite expensive, even if you're purchasing a playset set. So I think it's definitely cheaper to make it yourself from scratch. The entire project cost me less than $350 and I'll give you a breakdown of it below.

You can also see my step-by-step drawing of how I built this backyard slide arcade. I hope it will be useful! My husband helped me build the base but I did the rest on my own and the total time spent on this project was around 12-13 hours.

I show you a visual step-by-step plan below, but if you'd like to download a professional 3D plan with step-by-step instructions, material breakdown and cutting list, you can do it here. Thank you for your support!

What type of wood should you use to build a playset?

Cedar and redwood are probably the best options when it comes to creating a backyard playset. While these types of wood are gorgeous and durable, they can also be very expensive. Using softwoods such as pine may be an option, but you need to keep in mind that regular pine is not weather resistant.

However, you can use pressure-treated pine to create a playset. It is durable, weatherproof and will serve you for many years.

Is pressure-treated wood safe for a playhouse? It is safe for children because it is outside and not in a closed area. Of course, cedar is preferred, but you'll get the most bang for your buck with pressure-treated pine.

diy backyard playground

COST: $336 (+ add-ons)



Lumber: ($224)

Note: check new plans for updated lumber list

  • 4- 4x4x8 landscape lumber ($32)
  • 6 – 2x6x8 ($34)
  • 17 – 2x4x8 ($85)
  • 14 – 1x4x8 ($63)
  • 3 – 2x2x8 ($10)

Ingredients: ($112)

Note: I am not a professional builder. Just sharing my experience on how I built this slide based DIY backyard playground for my kids. I am not responsible for the playground you may create with my plans.

DIY outdoor climbing structure building instructions

Step 1. Building the foundation for a DIY backyard playground

Cut 2x6x8 to 48 inches (4 ft) each.

The easiest way to start making the base is to place two 4x4s and add a 2×6 to it. If you want a strong foundation, make sure you level everything.

Work around to make a box of 2x6s on the bottom. Drill pilot holes and secure them with galvanized carriage bolts and nuts (make sure the bolts are galvanized as they resist rust and are suitable for outdoor use). Also make sure your drill bit is long enough to get through 4×4 and 2×4. I had a short drill bit which made this job more complicated.

Once the bottom “box” is complete, it is time to build the foundation for the second floor. Let's call this the “top box”.

diy backyard playground

Here's the interesting part. The location of this “top box” will determine the height of the slide base and how tall it will be. Mine is 64″. When we finished construction, we realized it was a little too high for my kids (ages 3.5 and 1.5). But it's too late. We can't just cut part of it. After brainstorming ways to make it safer in case of a fall, we came up with a solution, but more on this later.

Step 2. Create support for the second floor

Following the same steps as in the bottom box, cut (2)2x6s to 4 ft and create the base of the second floor using carrier galvanized bolts.

The next step is to add a 2x4x8 in the middle of the side where you plan to make the climbing wall. I decided to be extremely careful and make sure the climbing wall was secure. It was probably excessive, though. I secured it with 3″ deck screws. The way this climbing wall is built makes me feel confident it won't collapse when one of the girls climbs it.

Step 3. Add the first layer

Once you're done with that board, it's time to lay the flooring on the bottom of our fantastic DIY backyard playground. To do this, measure the distance inside the box and make a 2×6 inch cut to create 2 joists for the floor. My joists were 47 inches each. Attach with pocket screws using a Kreg jig.

*Note: Since I didn't have 2×6″ on hand, I used 2×4″ instead.

Now that you have joists you can line the flooring using 1×4” (1×6” would also be a good option but was more expensive). I cut 7 of these in half (48 inches each) – I used 14 in total.

While laying the flooring, you will face the problem of the joists getting stuck in the way. The easiest way to cut properly is to use a circular saw. I'm not big on this type of saw, so the cuts aren't perfect, but it still doesn't bother me.

diy backyard playground

I used a 1 ⅝” deck screw to set it in place. I used 2 screws on each side to provide extra security and prevent the wood from wrapping.

Step 4. Make the second floor

diy backyard playground
diy backyard playground

Now it's time to do the second floor. I put 2 beams for flooring. I was originally planning to fix the floor joists with the Kreg jig. As much as I loved him, I wasn't sure he could carry this weight. So I decided to add 4 inch corner brackets to secure it. When I started working on it I realized I didn't have enough pocket hole screws. That's why I only used 4 corner brackets on each beam.

Cut the remaining 1x4s in half (you will have 14 boards) and attach them to the “top box”. I again used double screwing for more support.

Add a 2×4” to the middle of the side where the slide will go. It will serve as a handle and support while children climb the ladder. Mine is 37″

When you finish the second floor you can pat yourself on the shoulder because the end is near 😀

backyard playground ideas diy

Step 5. Build a climbing wall

I was wondering if I should use 1×4” or 2×4”. I decided to choose 2×4” as I thought they were more stable and safe. There was also the aesthetic element that I wanted the wall to be flush with the top and bottom “box”. Cut your 2×4”x8’ dimensions in half and attach to the playground structure with 3” deck screws.

It's a simple but somewhat time-consuming job. I started building the wall from the top because there needed to be a small gap and I would prefer it to be from the bottom rather than the top.

PIN FOR LATER >>>>>>>>>

diy backyard playground, backyard playground ideas do it yourself

Step 6. Create a staircase

Believe it or not, this was the most challenging part of the project. I've never built stairs before. I'm sure there are easier ways to do this, but now I'll tell you how I did mine.

I originally planned to use a Kreg jig for assembly, but since I discovered early on that I didn't have pocket screw holes, I moved on to the next best option.

I measured the length of the ladder and the angle it would go. The idea was to reduce the slope since it was already quite high. In the end, I went the easy route and built my ladder at a 45 degree angle. I made 45 degree cuts at the top and bottom on the miter saw.

The steps are 16” wide. I measured the correct angle and attached it with regular nails for outdoor use. I screwed in 3 inch deck screws to secure it. Then I turned it the other way and put in more 3 inch deck screws.

To attach the ladder to this DIY backyard playground, I placed 3-inch screws from the inside to the outside, 3 on each side.

Step 7. Attach the rails to the top

Note: My new plans improved the railing system and put it vertically instead of horizontally for a few reasons. First, it is safer for children to have vertical railings to prevent them from climbing up. Secondly, it was also not up to code when the railing was placed horizontally.

backyard playground ideas diy

Here's what the newly developed plan looks like. You can download it here.

diy backyard playground plans

To finish this project you need to make rails on the top. I used 2x2s and 2x4s just for aesthetic purposes. I used a 2×4 inch block to make the spacing between rows even. At this point I discovered that I needed a proper ladder and my tiny ladder wasn't going to cut it. You may also need another pair. hands to help you hold it.

Handcuffs are definitely your best friends here. This is what I used.

AND…. At this point YOU CAN ADD THE SLIDE! ;D

I know your kids are excited about this, but it's probably best to test drive it first ;D Check my Instagram to see how I did for the first test drive ahahah

Step 8. Sanding and painting

The next step is the most painful and is to sand everything down so the kids don't get splinters while playing there. I used this palm orbital sander and it worked great. But I would definitely not attempt to sand by hand.

diy backyard playground

The most fun part was painting it and working on the climbing wall design, but I'll tell you about that and all the “add-ons” in next week's slide, so stay tuned to see how I colored the space. fantastic DIY backyard playground condition ;D

backyard playground ideas diy
diy backyard playground


backyard playground ideas diy




diy activity cube toddlers


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