Our Backyard Playground Part II: The Reveal and Budget Breakdown!

October 3, 2017

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Today I’m excited to share with you our backyard reveal and spill all the numbers about how much it cost since so many of you requested that info. If you missed part 1, where we talk all about our plans, demo and installing the trampoline and play set, as well as a big map of our entire yard (it’s definitely an interesting shape) you can read all that here.

We’re thrilled with how our side yard looks and functions now!

A far cry from where we started (and lived with for 4 years)…

And here’s looking from the driveway side of the fence. (I should note that last week, we took one set of photos and then my camera battery died, and yesterday I took a few more and it’s safe to say, Fall arrived in Idaho between then!)

Although we definitely wanted this part of the yard to be kid-central, since our backyard (the deck) is more for entertaining, we also OF COURSE wanted it to look as good as it played. Although I am generally full of ideas for the interior of our house, I am so grateful we hired professional landscape designers (Spruce It Up for all you locals) because they nailed everything from the grass around the trampoline to the pockets of plants surrounding each area.

The playset we chose from Wayfair (that they sent to us), I was drawn to because of all the sweet windows and rooflines, the picnic table underneath, and even the lights on it are solar-powered (!!) and light up when the sun goes down. We also love having two slides and Gorilla Playsets are known for their higher weight limits, too. One day, we still plan on giving it a makeover, but the weather has already turned here, so it’s looking more like a spring project. That being said, I don’t mind the wood as much as I thought I would!

Over the summer, we had a family reunion with Chris’s side at this beautiful home in Utah that had its own playground. It was surrounded by big boulders that the kids climbed all over as much as the playground itself. So when the landscape designers told us that they needed to come up with a solution to fill in the grade between the slope down to the playset and the level playing field they created to install it, I immediately knew we wanted several boulders there. Not only do they look beautiful, the girls often perch on them when playing princesses.

The paver path leading up to the deck was a project we added on while the crew was working. It was originally going to be stones (similar to the ones leading to the trampoline through the mulch) but the transition from the deck to much was very abrupt. Even though the paver path was a large extra added expense, it absolutely made the whole yard and I can’t imagine it without it. We’re so grateful Spruce It Up suggested it and we splurged on it.

In the last few weeks, we added this park bench and Polly and I spend a lot of hours on it watching the other girls play, with Charly by our side–naturally.

Every square inch of the backyard was accounted for, but we still longed for a little more privacy, so we had the front of the fence landscaped, too, planting a “Perfect Purple” tree right in front of the playset which will mature nicely.

This was something we planned, saved and budgeted for for 4 years. We thought for awhile it was something we could possibly do ourselves, but I’ve never been so happy to pay someone to do something! It was a lot of work and took a large team of guys over a week and a half to complete. The grand total came to $15,135–which is no drop in the bucket, but a worthy investment in our opinion. I included the breakdown of cost below so you can see how it all added up. When looking at the invoice below, the labor was worked into every line item except the playset (from Wayfair), that’s why there’s a separate labor fee for that. All in all, it probably would have taken us a year to do ourselves, and it wouldn’t look half as good. Ha! I guess we know our strengths and our weaknesses.

One more before and after in gif form for kicks!

We are actually getting our home appraised in the coming weeks, so we’re anxious to see how much of what we’ve done has added to the value of our home (we’re not selling, we’re just paying off our PMI) and will definitely report back. But truthfully, seeing the girls (and all of their friends!) play for hours upon hours in our own yard has already made this project worth every penny.



Playset c/o Wayfair
Trampoline– Trampolines Down Under
Park Bench– Wayfair 

We have since painted the play set and you can check it out here.


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What do you think?

  1. Whitney says:

    Might be a long shot, but do you happen to know why the landscapers needed to offset the grade with the boulders? We’re installing a playground in our yard that has a step grade along the back perimeter (our house is in a cul-de-sac that backs up to a main road, you know those tall privacy hills they build in neighborhoods?) and while we’re going to level the flat part of the yard, it will be pretty close to the base of the hill. We’re planning on installing some sort of better drainage (maybe french drains), so I’m curious if there is some other factor we’re not considering.

    It looks great, we will definitely be referring back to this to paint it!

  2. Lindsey says:

    I love love love the look of your landscape around the play area. And I love how you go on to paint it. I’m wondering if you could share how your older girls play with it and the ages they were at and are at now and how their use with it has changed. I’m sure Polly is on there like a fly to honey. My girls are now 7 and 9 and asking for play equipment but it all seems to small and young for them. Especially as they’re tall for their ages. Thanks in advance!! Xo

    • Julia says:

      We have since moved (just one year ago) and our girls now are 10, 6 and 2. Our 10 year old still swings on the playset at this house and our younger girls love it still too, but I would say the “toy” that has aged the best with kids of all ages is our in ground trampoline.

  3. Carolyn says:

    Hi can I ask how big your mulched space is? I’m considering a similar swing set for my kids and I’m trying to figure out how much space I need for them to safely swing. Thanks!

  4. Megan says:

    We love this! We’ve been researching the rubber mulch, but have heard that it can stain feet. How are you liking yours?!

  5. Kelly says:

    I have been following this EVERY step. Love that you are able to have both an expansive entertaining area AND a play area. So lovely! Quick question: at the beginning of this, you had shared some inspiration photos of what you may be thinking of for the play set. One photo had a play set with a rock wall… it was horizontal. Anyway, I’ve scoured the blog looking for this and cannot find it. Any chance you know which one I’m talking about?

    You guys are the best, love all of your wonderful updates. So sorry about Charley. ????

  6. Anne says:

    This looks AMAZING. It’s like an outdoor room you’ve created! A great investment.

  7. Melinda Page says:

    I know I’m bias here but I love how it turned out, it’s a great addition to your killer patio.

  8. Katie says:

    I LOVE THIS! We lost our above ground trampoline in a bad rain/wind storm (it was tied down and there were 60 MPH winds) this past spring and I have been wanting an in-ground one for my 3 girls!!! They missed having one this summer!

  9. Candace says:

    Thank you so much for sharing!!! We keep dreaming about some of these elements, and the breakdown was super helpful.

  10. Carly says:

    It is an amazing yard! Partnered with the deck! I just want to come hang out.

  11. Erin says:

    Looks beautiful! We also have a similar Gorilla Playset. Did you seal it? We are noticing some wood color wearing and have only had it for two weeks!

  12. Janet says:

    Looks amazing!!!!! Is your backyard considered ‘done’ now, or do you have plans for the third grassy section on the other side?

  13. Christine W. says:

    Looks amazing! When will you reveal Chris’ outdoor kitchen??

  14. Tara says:

    WOW!!! I totally agree, worth every single penny! $15K is an excellent value for everything that you had done, especially when you take into consideration how beautiful it looks, and how much time your family and friends will spend together out here! I’m so impressed, and also a little jealous ;)

  15. Eric says:

    That’s better than most of the playgrounds in my neighborhood, and so much easier to get to. One question – is it easy to clean out under the trampolene?

  16. Nicole says:

    I love the way it turned out. I had never seen an in ground trampoline before y’all did it and I think it’s such a nice way to have a trampoline without it looking clunky.

  17. Jillian says:

    Looks So SOOO good!!! Can’t believe how much form and function you squeezed in! Love how natural the paths look and everything is set up really well! Where do you guys store outside toys- buckets, balls, trucks, shovels, water guns, bubbles?? Or does only my house full of little boys have that storage problem? Ha!

  18. Lauri says:

    Thanks so much for this budget breakdown! It’s nice to have even a general idea of how much things like this cost. And I love that you started out with this awkwardly-shaped area with little function, and now it’s ALL THE THINGS. So beautiful!

  19. Andi says:

    It looks so good! We are just getting started on the majority of our backyard (just wrapped up the patio a few weeks ago). You definitely inspired us, so now we are hiring out for at least a portion of the work! And I cannot get over that trampoline!

  20. Natalee says:

    I love this and agree it would be worth every penny. I was the one that was really conflicted about the rubber mulch and picking leaves out of it, etc. I like that you show the pictures with the debris in it, it looks pretty and natural. Keep us posted on if it does ever bother you, or start to accumulate, or become a headache, etc. I am team rubber mulch, but have been hesitant about it, due to my (perhaps) obsessive need to pick things out of it.

    • Julia says:

      I think the leaves add a lot of charm. The rubber mulch has been wonderful and will last a lot longer than the other mulch too!

      • Katie says:

        My Inlaws have rubber mulch under their playset and it looks great and is nice under foot. I will say that you might find a few pieces sticking in shoes and being brought into the house. You might want to make sure Charlie doesn’t start chewing on them! Sometimes they look like bugs and my dog likes to chew them.

      • Anny says:

        I was meaning to ask if this was rubber mulch. Do you happen to know the brand or was it something your landscaper acquired? We are putting in a play set this month and have to look into the rubber mulch now :) Thank you!

      • Julia says:

        The landscaper provided it. Sorry!

  21. Cathy says:

    Thanks so much for the breakdown in costs! We have a huge backyard (0.4 acres) but we don’t really use it other than grilling and letting our two dogs potty out there. We have an almost 2-year old daughter who LOVES being outside, but we don’t have anything for her to play outside with. So i really want to make our yard more kid-friendly and also good for entertaining when friends come over.

    Somewhat related topic, where do you let Charly go relief herself? Do you designate an area of the yard for her or is it off limits to her? We haven’t set any limits for our dogs, and that’s been my hesitation to let our daughter out and about in the yard unfortunately.

  22. Katie says:

    This looks fantastic! Have you posted previously about your fence? We have a wooden fence painted white around our yard, and it’s starting to look a little less than ideal. With your harsh winters I wondered if you have something other than wood?

  23. Jeanna says:

    It’s pretty awesome, I must say! And worth every penny for sure :)

  24. kaitlyn B says:

    Looks fantastic! I love that even your yard has the Marcum twist on it….clean lines and comfortable. We did our own landscaping at our house, and although we saved a bundle, it was grueling work.

    P.s. Did you post the Charlie Sofa winner yet?

  25. Carol says:

    This looks fantastic!! I don’t have kids yet but I’m envious of this anyway – I can trampoline with the best of them. Haha!

  26. Lacey says:

    The difference is incredible! I think the paver path is my favorite part, like you said it really helps with the transition. I’ll admit seeing the grand total was a bit shocking but then putting it into perspective of the break down helps! For me, it shows how possible this is if you can break it down and start saving for it one thing at a time. I want to makeover our front and backyard but have been so nervous to see the cost but this has definitely helped and inspired me! Thank you!

  27. Sally says:

    A brilliant result (I am officially envious!) – and, you’re right, an absolute case-in-point of sometimes seeing the value in hiring someone to do certain projects!

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We believe we should all love where we live.

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