DIY Kids Gravel Play Area, Rustic Bench, and Activity Board

Stephanie Abbott
by Stephanie Abbott
5 Materials
20 Hours
Sand boxes are a backyard classic, but they can be messy, attract ants (fire ants here - you don't want those near kids), and the neighborhood cats. So, what do you do when you have kids that love to dig?
Build an awesome gravel box instead! But I couldn't stop there. I decided to add a rustic bench with a cute vintage truck, and a fun activity wall to keep the kids busy for hours.
Note: I would say this project is easy, but may lean towards medium difficulty if you are just starting out with building projects and your circular saw. :)
Follow the link for full details.
Before building the new play area this was an unused gazebo. But I provide steps to build this gravel box on grass too. Don't worry it's easy.
This activity wall has 2 different kinds of ball chutes, a velcro car, a dinner bell chime, and a kids 3-piece percussion set. (aff)

It's simple to frame out a gravel box with 1" x 6" boards Screw them into 4" x 4" blocks in the corners to support the frame. Then fill with pea gravel.
I also screwed this frame into my gazebo posts and bench to prevent the kids from pulling the frame up.
If you're building this on dirt, make those 4" x 4" corner posts 8" longer on the bottom. Bury that 8" in the ground to keep the kids from lifting the frame after it's been filled with gravel. You'll also want to line with gardening fabric to prevent grass and weeds from growing through the gravel.
Follow the link for full details on the activity wall and bench build.

This bench is cute and the rustic design holds up to all the dirt and toy banging that comes from our little boys.

Want to create a grown up bench for your back patio? Check out my DIY L-shaped Outdoor Bench on Hometalk.
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Suggested materials:
  • Corral boards - $9 for 1x6" x 16' boards   (McCoy's Lumber)
  • Kids Outdoor Rhythm Band   (Amazon)
  • Ryobi Cordless Circular Saw   (Amazon)
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Stephanie Abbott
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!
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2 of 4 comments
  • Brenda  S. Brenda S. on Apr 04, 2017
    This is amazing!!

  • Gailreset Gailreset on Jul 20, 2017
    Great idea for the kids lack of sand use gravel box. Please reconsider using sand and the practice of using a tarp to cover the sand when not in use. Sand allows you and the kids to make tunnels (boring your hand into a mountain of damp sand) make castles, roads, all those fun things you can do at the beach in your own mid-western backyard. My kids loved their sandbox as much as I did as a kid and I hope my grandchildren get to have the same fun. Ditch the gravel.
    Consider this, as my parents did almost 60 years ago,
    1. the sandbox has to be a distance far enough from the house that when you go inside, most if not all the sand falls off
    2. teach your child to brush themselves off
    3. teach your child to cover and anchor a tarp to cover the sandbox.