Helping playhouse 'fit' in the yard

grullablue(5)March 3, 2010

My son has a cute little playhouse alongside my large yard. We will be putting rails up on the deck this spring, to spruce the front up a bit... but as cute as the playhouse is, and as much attention as it has gotten, it just exists in our yard. I would like to do something this year to help it fit in better...I would like to do some landscaping around it...nothing extravagant or expensive, just some simple fixing up to help it fit in a little better. I have a photo of it now...I probably have a pic of it without snow on the ground, but would take me forever to dig up! But this shows the playhouse, and the barren yard around it, with the exception of the treeline behind it, which is our lot line. I'm not sure what I want to do.... I know flowerboxes on the windows itself might help dress up the playhouse itself, but this IS a BOY'S playhouse, he might not appreciate that too much. But I do feel like the house just sits doesn't seem to fit somehow...and perhaps if I plant some small shrubbery or something around it even, that may help. Not sure, that's why I'm asking for ideas here! Thank you!

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karinl(BC Z8)

Maybe a pathway leading to it? Can't tell if there already is one under the snow. A side yard planting? Perhaps he could grow a few tomatoes there or something? That would be manly :-)
Or a side patio, with boy-style patio furniture?


    Bookmark   March 3, 2010 at 7:00PM
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This little house like many anthropogenic objects in the landscape is a focal point in your yard. Notice how you would rather look at it than the plants around it or the open space behind it?

Some taller forms behind it to re-inforce this as a focal point would avoid the plunked in look and reinforce it's focal point power to draw the eye. Also more forms could be installed to create or block view of this focal point to create some mystery. As someone mentioned a path could also reinforce visual sight lines.

Further the yard in front of it has an impact on how this focal point is viewed as well. It's like a big jigsaw puzzle, you just have to make all the pieces work together to form a cohesive whole.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2010 at 10:41PM
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Thanks for the suggestions! Nope, no path up to it...that is something I did want to do, but our yard is quite huge, so the path will actually stop. Our yard is 2 total, and this playhouse sits on the edge of it, with the house sitting in the center....the path would be right in the middle of the front yard if we had a path all the way down there. But something to bring one into the playhouse, that I did intend to do. "PLUNKED THERE." That is EXACTLY how I feel! ANd actually, that's exactly what happened too! It was not built there, we did place it there. But it was level spot...considering much of our yard is sloped, and against the treeline, this seemed like a good spot. We cant have it in the back yard, as we have a pond in back, and with the spring thaw and rain, we do deal with some flooding occasionally, so the pond can be unpredictable! We've come close to having our basement wet a couple of times! But, the house was plunked there, that's for sure! And now I want to make it blend in...

I do agree that taller trees behind it would be a big help....but would be quite an expense (or long wait, I'm sure!) or...moving it, which would mean more work, machinery, and having to probably excavate a new spot as well. I also liked this spot because it was easy for me to keep an eye on him from most places I may be....garage, barn, chicken coop, or a quick peek from inside the house....

I believe there's a lot of potential here...definitely...and thinking I'm on the right track by thinking about it now, before garden centers open up for spring!

    Bookmark   March 3, 2010 at 11:01PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Shrubs around it would frame it visually and help cut the wind. Since the eye comes to rest on it (in this view), that should be reinforced with planting behind, that keeps the eye on the playhouse instead of being conflicted between it and the view beyond.

Think of compartmentalizing the garden into rooms, like those inside a building. If you do not feel a need to keep an eye on the playhouse and vicinity while it is in use, it could even be separated from spaces between it and the house by planting or other screening devices, to be discovered in turn as the property is explored.

Long, narrow windy British garden plots are often made "bigger" with walls, hedges, fencing and informal planting dividing up and enclosing multiple spaces within the whole.

Looks like the usefulness and appeal of your site would benefit much from this kind of approach.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2010 at 11:28PM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

It's a charming little house! I agree that it needs more plantings nestled around it. Does it need to relate to other structures etc. in the landscape (e.g. the house?) or can it be treated as a stand-alone project? I'm thinking it needs things that might appeal to a boy (how old?) Why not include a Wolf River apple or two on non-dwarfing rootstock? They are a 'heritage' apple, an offspring of 'Alexander' that was introduced from Russia to England in 1817. The apples are huge - I remember as a child taking almost all day to eat one! For other small trees, and shrubs maybe consider witch hazel, burning bush and various dogwoods. For perennials, maybe goatsbeard, snakeroot, bugbane and catmint. It could become a fun quest with him to find interesting things to plant around 'his' house.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2010 at 10:25AM
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catkim(San Diego 10/24)

I suggest a defensive crenelated fence with moat and drawbridge, a tower to climb with binoculars stowed in a cabinet, and hedgerows to hide behind while tossing water balloons. And don't forget the buried treasure.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2010 at 4:08PM
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catkim(San Diego 10/24)

And a flagpole, gotta show your colors.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2010 at 4:10PM
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grullablue(5) your I can't let him see it or you'll give him way too many ideas! Kid's got enough of his own! LOL (I do like the flagpole idea them all, but that's realistic for us! ha ha ha)

It is far enough away that his little house could be treated as a stand alone project...I had at one time considered putting up a little fence around it, giving him his own little yard...but then I'd have to mow that, too! My son just turned his "playhouse" is fast becoming a "clubhouse" of sorts this year. There's not much inside it...a ladder up to the "loft", a bench, couple chairs, toys...and I did put in a cordless, battery operated doorbell for him last year which he just loved! My husband needs to reinforce the windows...because they aren't withstanding the abuse of opening and closing, and having Alex and his friends climbing through them (just swing out double windows). The porch will be painted white, like the rest of the trim this year, and I plan on putting a couple of hanging solar lights on it, one on each corner post. I have lights in mind, I have two on my chicken coop already, and they have served us well. Alex has a sandbox in a completely different part of our yard, I had considered moving it near the playhouse....big it's a big sandbox...but thought it might add to the look too...I don't know. But for now, I want to concentrate on some greenery around it. An apple tree would be nice...and I like the burning bush idea...I love those, but that part of my yard, when the trees are not bare, doesn't get much sun because of the treeline there. But never thought about it...the house should be out far enough to avoid that problem!

    Bookmark   March 4, 2010 at 4:30PM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

Your post reminded me of one thing I needed to add to this year's 'project list' - paint my shed! A couple of years ago we built a new shed with cedar siding in much the same blue as yours. We chose that color because there is a fair bit of blue and white in the garden - and we both like blue. BUT it has got annoying for me because it draws your eyes too much and the dominant color theme in the backyard is green and white. So I have resolved to repaint the shed this year to a dark olive-y green to blend into the background better. (DH likes to blue though so it'll be a battle to get it painted I think :-) You might also want to consider whether a different color for the shed would help it 'fit' better.

Blue shed:

Mock-up of green shed:

    Bookmark   March 5, 2010 at 11:16AM
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Landscape it like a real house ... a path leading to it, at least partway, and some plants to make it look less "plopped down" there.

Pick the plants scaled to match the house: small trees, compact shrubs.

And ask the kid - he might have some ideas about what he wants.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2010 at 1:28PM
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How about stepping stones as your path? Kids love jumping from step to step, and it makes it less of a major path that way.

I like the idea of shrubs in front making a sort of front yard for the playhouse/clubhouse. Also good for cover of assaults, if used more as a fort. ;) Nothing with thorns, of course.

What about edibles, like strawberries?

    Bookmark   March 9, 2010 at 10:31AM
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i notice a soccer net next to the play house. you should consider including a 'play area' around the house so that all his "toys' stay in the same area of the yard.

area for the pool, sand box, that fort idea was good and a tarzan swing

also you need to think of how the area will be used in 5 years. or when your son out grows the play house stage.

my kids play house was big enough to repurpose into a storage shed.


    Bookmark   March 10, 2010 at 11:40AM
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