More backyard landscaping tips for keeping kids engaged, entertained, and educated  

In our most recent blog, we introduced Michael Biafore, a professional landscape architect whose company, Biafore Landscape Development, helps Morgantown area homeowners get the most out of their property. In part two, were sharing the rest of his expert advice on designing kidfriendly outdoor spaces. 

Intelligently designed pool gardens 

According to Biafore, two kid-friendly features gaining in popularity among Morgantown area homeowners are pool gardens and outdoor theaters.   

“We have experienced an upswing in requests for swimming pool gardens with amenities such as outdoor kitchens, hot tubs, fire pits, and fireplaces included in the design,” he explains. 

You won’t find the term “pool garden” in any dictionary, but Biafore’s usage reveals how landscape architects integrate design features to form a sustainable and aesthetically pleasing system. Of course, some people stick a garden and a pool in their yard without a plan, but that’s not what Biafore recommends. He says a swimming pool should be planned as one featured element of the overall design, “not a pool with a garden around it as an afterthought.” 

One thing that’s obvious when talking to Michael Biafore is the advanced planning that goes into his tailored landscaping solutions. This is certainly true with outdoor theater options, which he says can stand alone or be integrated into other areas, such as pool houses, outdoor kitchens, decks, and patio. 

“An outdoor theater can be a permanent feature with an outdoor smart TV and fixed surround sound,” adds Biafore, “or it can be more versatile, with a projector and roll-up screen and portable speakers.” 

Adventure play without leaving home 

When we asked what used to be hot and now is not, Biafore’s answer was somewhat unexpected.  

 “The days of swings and a sliding board are past,” Biafore said without hesitation.  

While it’s hard to imagine an outdoor play space without them, there’s a sound reason for the change. Today’s options for custom and prefab play equipment don’t necessarily make the outdoor favorites of yesteryear obsolete, but they do make them relics in certain respects.  

For one, the idea of DIY assembly and landscaping to save money is falling out of favor. In 2022, parents are busier than ever and would rather hire experienced professionals than use valuable time struggling to build complicated structures and create functional, beautiful landscaping.  

Expectations have also changed. Influenced by American Ninja, YouTube videos of parkour, and extreme sports, today’s kids crave play equipment that allows them to mimic those athletes. Think: climbing walls, zip lines, water amenities, hammocks, and other features.  

For those looking for a simpler, open activity space, Biafore says that a well-maintained lawn area allows backyard sports such as croquet, badminton, and frisbee, as well as equipment like trampolines. Plus, these areas provide space for practicing lacrosse, soccer, football, etc. He adds, “Artificial putting and chipping areas are also becoming very popular.” 

Overall, Biafore believes that today’s homeowners are “realizing the value of researching and designing all outdoor spaces so their look and usefulness does not become dated over the years. Working with a professional landscape designer or landscape architect can greatly enhance your project’s look and functionality, while saving you money in the long run.” 

Putting a price on play 

What should a homeowner do to increase the value of their property? Biafore’s response, while not all about the dollar, revealed how smart improvements prove their worth. 

“Designing your landscape for high-end children’s experiences increases the salability of your home even if you don’t recoup every dollar invested. We’ve seen where parents will view homes for sale, narrow it down to a few, then bring their children to see them. Almost always the sale goes to the home that excites the children with landscape amenities designed especially for them. 

“Saving money by entertaining at home saves countless dollars spent on vacations, country club fees, movie tickets and snacks, but having your children and their friends in a safe, educational environment is what all parents hope to have at their disposal in these times of uncertainty,” says Biafore. “This is what we like to call a realized intrinsic value. Plus, the peace of mind that comes from knowing your family is safe, content, and entertained at home is priceless.”