Audit your outside space

Summer is on the way! It might not exactly feel like it but before we know it the warmer weather will be here and the children will be spending more and more time playing outside. Is your garden ready for them? Maybe it’s time for an Outside Play Space Audit?

Great ideas to use to audit your outdoor space and make it a wonderful place to grow, play and relax.

How to audit your outdoor play space

Dream big

What would be on your wish list for your outside play space? Think about the activities you enjoyed last year and other outside spaces you’ve visited, where the children have had a wonderful play time. What ideas can you borrow from your neighbours, the parks, the beach, the forest? Ask your children to imagine the best garden ever and perhaps draw some ideas for you.

Back to reality

Of course, you have to work with what you’ve got, and space and budget are huge factors in what you can achieve, so evaluate your dreams based on what’s practical. You might be surprised on how much you can include though if you plan thoughtfully. We have a tiny garden but have spaces for messy play, ride-ons, dens, sitting and eating out, growing our own fruit and vegetables, writing and counting, and construction play.

All areas covered?

Try and add in some new play opportunities to your outside space this year. Think about the whole range of play that takes place inside your home and see if you can make them available outside too. Our dinosaur world and fairy garden give us some small world play. Planting seeds and growing vegetables takes science outside. Setting up a Creation Station lets you do arts and crafts outside, such as big scale messy play. And a set of story stones helps you include language and story telling play.

A riot for the senses

Think about the garden from a sensory perspective and see if any aspect is missing at the moment. Do you have beautiful flowers and art, nice smelling herbs, wind chimes or a musical sound wall, lots of natural textures to feel?

Take action

Once you have your plan you can start to make changes over the next couple of months to put them into action. Starting seeds off now, rather than buying fully grown plants later in the year, can work out much cheaper and it’s a great learning opportunity for the children. You can start to gather any new materials you want to include and put the word out with friends and neighbours to source any equipment you’d like.  Just think how glad we’ll be, come the long summer holiday, to have a wonderful play space right outside our backdoor.

More creative ways to use nature to inspire learning

Fill your year with hands-on, creative learning inspired by nature. Click through to see our Garden Classroom resource and get your free Garden Journal.

garden activities for kids cta


  1. Sharon says

    I was only saying to my hubby yesterday that we need to think about the garden. Will be printing this article off, great
    to get the brain cells buzzing
    Thank you

  2. says

    I just audited our outdoor space. Unfortunately we have a small concreted courtyard as our outdoor space and a very limited budget but I think it still turned out well. I do love looking at all those beautiful outdoor spaces on the web but you’re right, you have to be realistic and work with what you have. My little man adores playing out there and I guess that is the whole point.

  3. says

    We are moving this spring and I hope hope we can find a house to rent so we can plant a nice huge garden. My sister even brought me back a really neat coconut wind chime from Hawaii specifically for my future garden, and I want to use it!

  4. says

    Can I make a plea that whilst you are auditing your outdoor spaces, the key to sustainable success is establishing how you USE what you have now (as well as what it is you have) and essentially, what you want to be able to DO out there in the future, rather than what you want to have. The UK’s national school grounds charity has lots of free downloadable resources to help you focus on the thinking and planning required to really get to grips with change outdoors:

  5. says

    This is such an inspirational post, thanks! Our house is relatively new and I just have not done enough with the backyard. We have a long rock retaining wall that has about 2 feet of soil in front of it that I would love to use more. For one, I’d like to hide the wall better. I am liking the look that you achieved with your plants in front of your wall (our wall is made will very large, gray rocks). I think I’ll bring your photo to the garden store and see if they can help me pick out similar plants – lush, but not taking over the yard. We currently have the spartan look.

    • Cathy @ NurtureStore says

      Hi Maureen, I’m glad you liked this piece. Most of the plants in the picture are herbs, which seem to fill out really quickly giving a great look and of course something you can eat too.

  6. adele says

    Thank you for this cath. Really need to get back into eyfs mode and although i do not have a garden yet i think this will be vital info for the future. X

  7. says

    What a great post. The dinosaur, fairy lands and story stones are great ideas and my kids would have as much fun making them as playing with them. Thank you.

    • Cathy @ NurtureStore says

      Great question Little Timbers Family childcare. Let me put some ideas together and I’ll post an article on it.

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