We've lived in our house for a year and a half and I have been itching to put a swing set up in our backyard since day one. While we were going through the process of house hunting two summers ago, the first thing I had to see at each new house was the back yard. I had to be able to envision my kids playing in that yard, myself planting a garden, putting up a fire pit, hosting BBQs, playing with a dog. If I couldn't, the house was scratched from the list. When we found our current house the yard was love at first sight. We left the open-house and called our real estate agent to put on offer on the house an hour later. It was only when we were doing our final walk-through that I realized I had never even looked inside the kitchen cupboards or stepped foot inside the bathroom, the yard was all that mattered! I could see the garden, the kids running through the sprinkler, playing fetch with our future dog, it was all there. I was never quite sure what type of play structure would be just right for our yard though, but I tested more than a few ideas over the past 18 months.
There were a few problems with each new idea I examined. 1- Hubby vetoed every one of them (haha!) 2- there was a high cost associated with the installation (safety material, cement for sinking posts, material to edge the play area, etc) 3- The yard space required to accommodate the play structure AND the safety area was significant 4- Most of the play structures are not designed for 1 year olds, which would require very close supervision of Little-Bug (meaning no reading or gardening for me while they kids were playing)
Needless to say, I was becoming pretty discouraged when suddenly, an idea occurred to me. I could build the boys a play pirate ship that actually sits on the ground! They would definitely enjoy the pretend-play aspect of a backyard ship, it wouldn't require a safety buffer zone, and I could definitely do a little yard work while they sailed off on an adventure. I decided to get started on the project that very day! We had some fence work done last summer (thanks to a good friend of mine who drove 4 hours to build us our new fence extension!) and we removed a few old fence panels and still had them stacked up in our dog run in the back yard. With a saw, some old cedar fence panels, a couple of wooden stakes and some left over nails from the garage I was able to knock the boat together in an afternoon, and it looks pretty amazing if you ask me ;-)
Next I just needed to accessorize the ship and give it a coat of paint. The kids had a pirate flag hanging in their bedroom already, so I positioned the pirate ship near the cottonwood in our backyard and used the tree trunk as the ship's mast. Then I secured the flag to the tree trunk and presto! The other accessories and the paint were going to be a bit of a bigger challenge.
As luck would have it, I received an email from Amazon.com a few days later asking me if I was interested in re-selling any of my old textbooks. Since I order most of my books from Amazon, they apparently knew which titles I had lying around. I logged in to check it out and quickly realized those books would be worth a lot more to me if I traded them in then they were worth gathering dust on my bookcase! I shipped off a large box of textbooks and a week or so later, a nice credit was applied to my amazon account :) I used a chunk of the credit immediately to order a couple cases of diapers (oh joy) and I also purchased a bread machine, which I have been wanting for quite some time. I was able to use the rest of the credit to purchase a playground steering wheel and telescope for the pirate ship, along with some glossy black and cherry red paint :) (If you are curious, I also picked up a set of popsicle molds) I am now anxiously awaiting the arrival of good ol' UPS so I can polish off that ship and snap a few pics!
In the end, instead of spending $1k+ on a nice cedar play structure, installation, and safety materials I was essentially able to create a great pirate ship out of....nothing! I feel so inspired, I find I am now searching my house for other "do-it-yourself" projects or opportunities to re-use or re-purpose something we have laying around.
*update* First photos here!
*update* New photo here!