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5 Tips to bring more nature into your outdoor environment

One of the biggest hurdles that a lot of childcare centres have struggled with under the new National Quality Standards, is to do with making sure their outdoor environment has natural elements. Some centres only have rubber or synthetic surfaces throughout their playgrounds, and it is hard to put permanent elements like real grass or gardens in, because the plants root system can't break through the rubber.  Getting these surfaces ripped up and re-done can be a very costly experience for owners, so if you are looking for some ideas on how to bring nature to your outdoor environment, on a low budget here are 5 tips that might help you get started.

Tip 1 -Tyre Garden/Veggie beds

Using tyres as garden beds are a quick, easy and cheap way of setting up garden beds, these can be directly laid onto rubber or synthetic grass.  All you need is the following items and you can see if most of these items can be donated to the service.

  • Tyres (either car or tractor tyres if you can get them)
  • Black plastic (place this under the tyre)
  • Soil
  • Mulch
  • Plants/Seedlings


Tip 2 - Digging Patches

Children love digging in the dirt, they also love creating things in the dirt patch like car tracks.  When looking at adding digging patches on rubber or synthetic grass surfaces then you need to look at what you could use to put the dirt in, you could use large tyres, large plastic containers or you could use large rocks to create an area to put the dirt on.  I would suggest if you are placing the dirt directly on the rubber or synthetic surface place plastic down first before you lay the dirt down.

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Tip 3 - Loose parts

Loose parts are a great way of bring more natural items into the playgrounds.  (For further information on loose parts see my earlier blog on loose parts).  You can add items to the outdoor environment like bricks, rocks, tree stumps, piping etc.

Tip 4 - Hay Bales

I have recently seen centres that buy hay bales and use them for all different ideas, they can be used as seating outside, as cubby house walls, as obstacles to climb over etc.  Once they start breaking down then you can add hay to your garden beds as mulch.

Picture from Let the Children Play

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Tip 5 – Vertical Gardens & hanging baskets

You can make vertical gardens from timber pallets or from old timber blinds. Other ideas are to get hanging baskets to either hang of your fence or hang down from you veranda roofs.  I recently went out and purchase a vertical wall garden from Bunnings all up with soil and plants it costs just under $70 dollars.


A great resource to get more ideas from is Let the Children Play their wedbsite is  

You could also check my facebook and pinterest page.

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