Giving your children the opportunity to play outside is important because it offers so many benefits for them to take advantage of such as improved vision, an increased attention span, and a hefty dose of vitamin D. But it can be tough to get to the community park during a busy week. Creating a playground in the backyard is a great alternative as long as maintenance is considered. Here are a few things you can do to ensure your new backyard playground is easy to maintain throughout the years:

Dress up the Ground

It's a good idea to think about replacing the ground surface with low-maintenance grass in your backyard where the playground will be set up. St. Augustine grass is a great option because it's easy to plant, it grows quickly, and it does well in both sun and shade — it also happens to be drought tolerant and pest resistant. When properly taken care of, St. Augustine grass is awesome at weed control. Letting it grow out a little provides a reliable, soft safety net for the kids as they play which reduces the chance of getting hurt.

Invest in Wooden Structures

Wooden play structures hold up well to outdoor weather as long as they've been coated with weatherproofing wax or paint. You don't have to worry about rust or damaged paint, and when the wood starts to wear it blends in nicely with the surrounding natural atmosphere of the yard. Even if the playground you choose to invest in has already been treated for outdoor use, treat it again yourself so you know what type of protection it has and how often you need to reapply that protection. If you feel like getting creative, you can use colored weatherproofing paint to create a bright collage of blue, red, yellow, and other bright shades that your kids are sure to love.

Decorate with Nature

To help make the playground meld in well with its surroundings, decorate some of its surfaces with natural options. For example, you can grow ivy along the legs of the monkey bars or plant sunflowers in pots and put them along the top corners of the unit. Not only will natural plants help filter the air and increase the playground's visual appeal, they will provide some extra shade for the kids to play under when it's hot and sunny outside. This allows for subtle skin protection that will come in handy when you forget to reapply sunscreen before the last application wears off.

Consider Multi-Purpose Features

A great way to up the ante when it comes to the fun factor of your children's new playground is to incorporate features that have multiple uses to take advantage of. For instance a nylon canopy can be used to provide shade above the playground, and if you buy one that's big enough you can build a small treehouse underneath part of the canopy. Or you may find that screwing a small table to the base of the playground that folds up when it isn't in use comes in handy whether it's time to eat a meal, indulge in artwork, or do homework for school. The idea is to expand on the playground equipment so it's useful in a variety of instances, even when the weather is not looking so great outside.

These ideas are pretty easy to integrate as do-it-yourself projects at home, and they won't cost you an arm and a leg to implement. You should also find that these techniques keep your backyard looking great, even when all the kids from the neighborhood are creating lots of foot traffic in the playground.