Kid-Friendly Hillside Lot

Hi. We have about 3000-4000 sq. feet on our low-to-moderate downsloping lot that we want to develop/landscape to make it more useable for our kids, both now (they're 2 and 4) and going forward. We are interested in hearing what solutions others have come up with. Costly or inexpensive, sophisticated or simple, professional or DIY, we're open to any ideas. Thanks!
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I think the best thing I ever did, was to terrace our yard using Versa-Lok Mosaic retaining walls. A designer in your area could help immensely with the design.

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Yep, I did the same. My backyard drops 8' in the first 40' from the house. We built 3 retaining walls, one about 3' from the house that is 1' high and acts as a planter. The other two are ~36' & 40' from the house and each is 3' high. So we basically lowered the part closest to the house 1' and raised the part furthest from the house 6'. This leaves us with a play yard that slopes ~1' in 32'. This amount of slope is easily "playable" for my daughters (2 & 4) and allows enough pitch for drainage. We put river rock and plants in the "planters" and ~6" of mulch in the "play yard".
When we did the 1' high "planter" wall we didn't realize how nice it would be to have a low wall for the kids to sit on, and be able to set stuff on. Also, part of the planter is devoted to annuals my wife & kids plant. At the top of the first 3'h wall we were concerned with the kids safety so we build a short (3'h) fence using PVC pipe and decorative "chicken wire" (actually, green vinyl coated wire mesh). This not only helps with safety, but detours them from walking on the wall and it prevents any balls/toys from going over the wall.
Costs were very reasonable. We used retaining wall block that we got on sale (it's always on sale at the end of summer and so we built our walls in early fall. The block we used was 12"w x 4"h x 8"d and costs $.99 each. It took us ~400 blocks to build all three walls. Other expenses included class 5 rock (for under and behind the walls), landscape fabric, drain tile, river rock, mulch and about $30 for the fencing supplies. We have most of the rock and block delivered and the rest we picked up when needed.
As far as do-it-yourself projects go this was not hard at all. It is moderate physical labor and it took us a couple weekends to complete (actually, we haven't yet finished. We bought "cap stones" to put on top of the walls but haven't put them on yet because I'm rethinking the color). Our stuff was delivered to our driveway and them we loaded some into a wheelbarrow and hauled it through the garage to the backyard. Our yard is fenced and the gate is on the opposite side of the house (plus our side yard is too narrow to drive a truck down). If we had been able to have the stuff delivered to our backyard that would have made the whole job much easier.
If you use retaining wall blocks (and you're going to install them yourself) make sure to consider all the available options. Our first choice aesthetically was a bigger block (18"w x 8"h x 12"d) but they weigh ~75lbs. each. Since we knew my wife would be doing a large part of the "hauling" we ended up going with blocks that weigh ~25lbs. so that she could lift them.
HTH,
Michael (LS)
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Just be sure you have no poison Ivy, But you could build an RC car track and a ATV track and get them some fun toys to fly around in.
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snipped-for-privacy@earthlink.net (Greg) writes:

it could be 1000' long and 3-4 foot from top to bottom. an approximation of slope would be good as well.
put a meter/yardstick at a point where the slope looks like the average slope and level it. measure the distance from the end hanging in the air to the point directly below it (use a weight on a string to make sure it is plumb). This measurement is called the "rise". the "run" is the length of your measuring device. the slope is typically rise/run. so if you had a yardstick (3 feet) and the measurement from the downhill end to the ground was 1 foot, you would have a slope of 1/3 = .33. Slope is usually measures as 100% times this, so it's 33% slope.
Now, to bring back trigonometry nightmares, if i remember correctly this ratio is the tanget of the angle made with level ground, so the atan of this value would be the angle it makes with level ground. atan(.33) = 18.26 degrees... which sounds about right according to my mental sketch.
Now why they don't say it's an 18 degree slope instead of a 33% slope... i have no idea.

Well... purely "idea" based since i havn't done this:
Terrace parts of it to make for level playing fields for things like baseball, football, soccer, rolling through the grass, etc.
Keep a sloping area for sled riding if applicable.
Make an area near the bottom for a "kids garden" (flowers, fun vegitables, etc)
If money is no object, i'd have a stream/waterfall meandering down one end of the terraced part (placed to not interfere with games, of course) with a pond large enough to swim/keep fish in (at least 10x10x4') at the bottom.... of course you'll have to monitor your kids until they can swim (which you should be doing anyway... so it should go without mention). Perhaps a few wading ponds higher up for when they are younger or you jsut want to soak your feet. heck if money really was no object... i'd probably put little waterwheels and raceways along the verticals of the terrace.
--
be safe.
flip
Ich habe keine Ahnung was das bedeutet, oder vielleicht doch?
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Greg wrote:

Good suggestions in the thread. A few more --
What is adjacent to the lot? Neighbors? A road? How will you handle this?
Is this in front, back, or side? What access do you have?
Do you want areas for different activities (ballgames, sandlot, swingset)? Do you have an area for adults to hang out and observe (patio, deck, cement porch with room for a plastic chair)?
Kid-friendly probably means any gardening will be low-maintenance stuff like groundcover, hardy plants like hostas, and so forth.
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Plant trees. Let the rest go wild.
While they're still young, you might want to strip the sod off an area so they have an easy access digging place.

"Don't walk in the garden."
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