DIY Kids Gravel Play Area And Rustic Bench

DIY Kids Gravel Play Area And Rustic Bench

The DIY Kids Gravel Play Area I’ve been working on this month is finally done. Yea! The boys are loving their new digging spot. I’m loving the new rustic bench where I can grab a cup of coffee and enjoy 20 minutes of peace while they play. 😉 As with most of my projects, I used our scrap corral boards, but this can easily be made with pressure treated 2×4’s. Check out the pictures to see how easy it was to make this Kids Gravel Play Area and rustic bench.

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Our gazebo has been mostly unused since we moved in 5 years ago. When I told the hubby I wanted to build a kids gravel play area, he suggested putting it in the gazebo. I was a little unsure at first. Then I realized it was perfect for my idea. But you can build your own Kids Gravel Play Area on grass, just be sure to use landscaping fabric to keep the weeds out. I’ve broken down this build into the three main areas; the rustic bench, kids gravel play area, and kids outdoor activity board. 🙂

How I built a kids gravel play area, rustic bench, and outdoor activity wall. Keeps kids busy for hours without the mess of sand.
Attaching the frame to the legs.
How I built a kids gravel play area, rustic bench, and outdoor activity wall. Keeps kids busy for hours without the mess of sand.
Bench frame in place and ready to finish.
Build a Rustic Bench

This is a simple, rustic bench design that can be easily made with a just a miter saw (or circular saw) and my trusty Ryobi Drill. I went for a rustic build here since it will get lots of abuse. I have already watched it get covered in muddy footprints and banged on with a hammer twice. With it’s sturdy build and distressed paint, this design is holding up perfectly.

I started by cutting my 4X4’s for the corners. Mine are 24″ high. Cut your framing boards to size based on your space. If you want cushions on the seats. Grab the measurements from the cushions you chose to decide how deep and wide you’d like your bench. Give everything a light sand to remove rough spots and to prepare them for paint. Attach the framing boards to the 4×4’s with 2- 3″ deck screws, on both sides. Make sure everything is square and level during this step. Now that your frame is together, you can attach the boards for your seat. Mark the middle of your bench and work from there to the outside to have the boards even on either side.

How I built a kids gravel play area, rustic bench, and outdoor activity wall. Keeps kids busy for hours without the mess of sand.
Transferring the image to the bench with a bit of chalk.

I chose to run my bench seat boards from front to back. The boards are strong enough on their own in this direction. If I wanted to run the seat boards long ways, I would have needed to add extra supports during framing to prevent the boards from dipping in the middle. My bench back is actually attached to the gazebo posts instead of the bench here. This made it easy for me to put a slight angle on the back for extra comfort.

After building the bench seat and back, I painted everything with Behr’s Squirrel Exterior Latex.  Once dry, I distressed all edges and across the seat boards to give it a rustic look that can hide a little wear and tear. Then it was time to give the bench a bit of character. I found this great printable on another the Nina Hendrick Blog  and used my sign making DIY to edit in my own text and adjust the size of the image to this large scale. Then I used white chalk on the back of the sign to trace the image and text onto my bench. ELMERS Paint Markers made quick work of adding a bit of vintage color. Cute, right?

How I built a kids gravel play area, rustic bench, and outdoor activity wall. Keeps kids busy for hours without the mess of sand.
Farmers Market & Vintage Goods – I love the charm this truck adds to the new play area.
How I built a kids gravel play area, rustic bench, and outdoor activity wall. Keeps kids busy for hours without the mess of sand.
The kids love digging in the gravel and playing with their activity wall. I love the rustic elements that keep it looking charming even when the kids cover it in mud and bang on it with their toys.
Build a Kids Gravel Play Area

I chose 5 inches for the height of the box so that my 1-year old can easily get in and out. You could raise yours to hold more gravel for older kids. But 4 inches seems deep enough for our boys. I used 4″ high 4×4 blocks in the corners and attached the framing walls with 2 – 3″ deck screws on both sides again. Can’t be more simple than that. I did anchor this box to the bench and gazebo to prevent the kids from lifting it up and letting the gravel spill under it.

How I built a kids gravel play area, rustic bench, and outdoor activity wall. Keeps kids busy for hours without the mess of sand.
This kids percussion set is so fun and cute.

If you are building this box on grass, I would use 12″ high 4×4 blocks in the corners. Bury those 8″ deep in the ground and you should be fine.

Money saving tip: Buying gravel loose from a landscape supply store is much, much cheaper than buying in bags. We got 1 cubic yard for about $60. That was enough to fill this box and cover a few areas in our landscaping.

How I built a kids gravel play area, rustic bench, and outdoor activity wall. Keeps kids busy for hours without the mess of sand.
The finished activity wall.
Build an Outdoor Activity Board

This activity board was made with 2 outdoor grade 2′ x 4′ plywood (sold in that size at Lowes). I attached a section of 2″x4″ down each post on the gazebo, then 2 long 2″x4″s connecting each of those gazebo posts. I attached the plywood those long 2×4’s with deck screws.

How I built a kids gravel play area, rustic bench, and outdoor activity wall. Keeps kids busy for hours without the mess of sand.
Drilling through a bit of spare copper turned this old dinner bell into a musical instrument.

This activity board is perfect for my busy, noisy boys. They love the Outdoor Rhythm Band I ordered from Amazon. I also added an old Texas-shaped dinner bell for a little more kid-friendly music. A removable wood car that I cut and attached with velcro, a ball chute made from drain pipes, and wood slides for balls round out the rest of the board.

How I built a kids gravel play area, rustic bench, and outdoor activity wall. Keeps kids busy for hours without the mess of sand.
Cutting a little car to attach to the activity wall with velcro. Custom yellow paint job from my 4-year old.
How I built a kids gravel play area, rustic bench, and outdoor activity wall. Keeps kids busy for hours without the mess of sand.
A little drainage pipe makes a nice ball chute.

So, what do you think? Are you ready to build a kids gravel play area, activity wall, or rustic bench? I’d love to get your comments below or post pictures of your projects at Abbotts At Home on FB, I’d love to see them!

How I built a kids gravel play area, rustic bench, and outdoor activity wall. Keeps kids busy for hours without the mess of sand.
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15 thoughts on “DIY Kids Gravel Play Area And Rustic Bench

  1. Wow Steph – this is awesome!!! You put so much thought (and work!) into this. Such a perfect use of the gazebo while your kids are little. And I imagine it’s all removable once the kids are much older. Also, are those donkeys I can see? How did I not know you have cute fluffy donkeys?? xx

  2. Very cool! My kids are older and I wish I had thought of something like this when they were younger ;( I’d be pleased if you visited my blog sometime and linked up your DIY’s to my new linky party, Support Your Fellow Crafter on Monday’s! Thank you so much!

  3. Very nice… this looks great and I like the idea of gravel instead of sand… better to deter cats. My guys would have LOVED this. 🙂

  4. Oh what a cutie pie! A perfect play area for any little boy! Thank you so much for sharing at I DIYed that this week! Hope you see you share again soon!

  5. That is the sweetest ever. Great project for the kiddos. Thanks for sharing this fantastic project at DI&DI.

  6. I think I may have mentioned this already Stephanie, you are an amazing Mom 😉 I love the new play area you built, the boys look like they’re having an absolute ball

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