What games can we play in the garden?
Lots of games we traditionally think of as being indoor activities can be taken outside. In fact, many have been adapted for the garden with oversized versions. There are also games that require little or no equipment, making them widely accessible and portable so they can be played almost anywhere, including in the play areas and open spaces we create as part of our new communities.
Here are our top five outdoor games:
- Football – the beautiful game in its simplest form needs just a ball and two players. Larger Redrow developments include sports pitches, while others include multi-use games areas where different sports can be played. Or you could simply use jumpers for goal posts. Walking football is increasing in popularity too, so age or fitness levels are no barrier to joining in.
- Tag, tick or tig – known by various names depending on where you live, this classic game of chase requires no equipment, just a group of friends to play. Variations include freeze tag or pool noodle freeze tag, where one noodle is held per team and they can use it to unfreeze team mates.
- Hide and seek – another classic requiring no equipment, with one person counting while the others hide ready to be found. Sardines works on the same principle but with one person hiding and everyone else searching. As each person finds the hider, they squeeze into the hiding place for the seekers to find.
- Rounders or cricket – both are classic bat and ball games to be played in teams.
- Skipping – can be enjoyed solo or as a group, with two people turning the rope. There are lots of rhyming songs to skip to, including those with actions to add to the difficulty level.
Garden games to make at home
- Hopscotch – this old school classic is one that adults can’t resist hopping over and joining in when they pass.
What you’ll need: Chalk and a small object to use as a place marker.
How to make: Simply draw out the grid on your patio or on the pavement with chalk. If you’re lucky, you might live near a play area or park with a grid already marked out. The basic grid pattern starts with a single block with the number “one” in, followed by a double block with “two” and “three” in until you reach 10.
How to play: The youngest player usually takes their turn first, throwing the place marker onto the grid. They then hop onto the single blocks and jumping to the double ones, missing the one with the place marker on, turning when they reach the end and picking the place marker up on their return. Throwing the place marker outside of the grid, hopping outside of the grid or on the wrong block all mean the player is out.
- Tin can alley – a traditional fairground or fete game that can be easy to recreate at home. What you’ll need: 10 empty drinks cans or food tins, all the same size, plus three bean bags or balls. How to make: This is a great way to reduce your household waste by reusing empty cans or tins. You could simply clean them out or you may want to paint and number your tins ready to play. How to play: Find somewhere to set up your cans, remembering to allow for throwing distance and the cans tumbling. Make a pyramid using the cans, starting with four on the bottom, working up to a single can on the top. Each player than has three attempts to knock down as many of the cans as possible, with a point per can.
- Giant Jenga – this iconic game is a test of physical and mental skill. Standard tabletop wooden versions and oversized outdoor equivalents are available to buy, but making your own can add to the fun. What you’ll need: Timber, tape measure, a pencil or pen, saw, safety goggles, sander, wood preserver, paint brush. How to make: Mark out the pieces using your tape measure and pencil. Traditionally, it’s played with 54 equal-sized blocks. We’d suggest 75mm x 25mm x 12.5mm. Saw the bocks to size – you can use one piece as a guide to the size. Sand the blocks to help avoid splinters and scratches. Coast with wood preserver and leave to dry. How to play: Stack your pieces in rows of three, alternating the direction of each layer. In turns players remove a block from the tower and place the block they’ve removed on the top. As the game progresses, the tower grows taller and less stable. The game is over when a player causes the tower to tumble.
Garden party games
If you’re hosting friends and family over the summer for a barbecue or garden party, it’s important that as well as being fed and watered, your guests are also entertained. Here are some suggestions of games for all ages and abilities:
- Sports day – evoke a sense of nostalgia for different generations and unleash their competitiveness by pitching families or pairs of friends against one another. Traditional events include the wheelbarrow race – with one person “becoming” the wheelbarrow and the other “wheeling” it across the course; an egg and spoon race to test balance and coordination; welly wanging where the person who throws the welly furthest wins.
- Pin the tail on the donkey or pin the bug on the flower – or other variation to suit your guests. Hang a donkey poster on the fence or attached to a tree, remembering to allow for guests’ heights, particularly children. Blindfold a participant, spin them round and leave them to try and find the donkey to pin the tail to.
- Croquet – a quintessentially British garden game, usually played on a lawn, where a bat is used to push the ball through loops.
How can I make my garden more fun?
Making your garden fun isn’t simply about filling it with toys and games, it’s about creating a space that can be enjoyed all year round and whatever the weather. Here are top tips:
- Create a sensory garden to engage the senses. Plant colourful flowers to attract pollinating bees and butterflies, while stimulating the sense of sight. These flowers, along with herbs will also trigger your sense of smell as they release different fragrances. A pond or water feature you can dip your hand into on warm day adds to the sensory experience through touch and sound too. Consider adding texture with mulch or gravel pathways, again for touch and sound. You could even make your own windchimes using glass bottles.
- Provide homes for nature by building a bat or bird box or bug hotel. Children will love seeing minibeasts up close or seeing different types of birds feeding in their garden. Find out more tips on how to create a nature-friendly garden
- If you’re not lucky enough to live near a beach or perhaps have the post-holiday blues, you could create a “beach” in your garden. All it takes is a sandpit and a paddling pool, and some imagination. Little ones will love building sandcastles or being buried in the sand and then splashing about in the water.
Check out our guide to help you make the most of your garden.