A Fun Pea Gravel Play Area & Backyard Activity Wall

A Fun Pea Gravel Play Area & Backyard Activity Wall

The Pea 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 pea gravel play area, backyard activity wall, and DIY rustic bench.

Our gazebo has been mostly unused since we moved in 5 years ago. When I told the hubby I wanted to build a pea 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 pea gravel play area on grass, just be sure to use landscaping fabric to keep the weeds out.

To make it easier to understand, I’ve broken down this build into the three main areas; the pea gravel play area, backyard activity wall, and DIY Rustic Bench. 🙂


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Disclaimer: Make sure to always read the directions for any products or tools you use while building. Always check for square and double-check those measurements too. Read the full disclaimer.


Build this fun and easy pea gravel play area, backyard activity wall, and DIY Rustic Bench. All the fun of a sand box, without the mess.
Even the donkeys want to check out the pea gravel play area.
Cost to Build a Pea Gravel Play Area

About $100 will cover a cubic yard of pea gravel and the lumber to frame the box.

Build a Pea 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 of gravel 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 of the block. Can’t be more simple than that.

I did anchor this box to the bench and gazebo with another 3″ screw at each corner. This prevents the kids from lifting it up and letting the gravel spill under it.

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 to anchor your box to the ground. Then line the box with landscaping fabric before adding the gravel.

Build this fun and easy pea gravel play area, backyard activity wall, and DIY Rustic Bench. All the fun of a sand box, without the mess.
This kids rhythm set is so fun and cute.

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. But, you’ll need a truck to haul that loose gravel.

Build this fun and easy pea gravel play area, backyard activity wall, and DIY Rustic Bench. All the fun of a sand box, without the mess.
The finished backyard activity wall.
Cost to Build this Backyard Activity Wall

The lumber for the board and ball chute costs about $30. The 3-piece kids rhythm band is usually around $30 on Amazon. The other items were rescued from my garage scraps. Maybe you have leftover rain gutter, drainage pipe, copper pipes,  or other items that can be re-imagined into your backyard activity wall.

Build this Backyard Activity Wall

This backyard activity wall was made with 2 outdoor grade 2′ x 4′ pieces of plywood. I attached a section of 2 x 4 exterior lumber down each post on the gazebo, then 2 long 2 x 4’s are connecting each of those gazebo posts along the back of the activity wall. I attached the plywood to those long 2 x 4’s with deck screws.

I realize most people won’t be attaching this to a gazebo. You could attach this to a fence or “plant it in the ground” using 4×4’s on the ends of the backyard activity wall.

Build this fun and easy pea gravel play area, backyard activity wall, and DIY Rustic Bench. All the fun of a sand box, without the mess.
Drilling through a bit of spare copper pipe turned this old dinner bell into a musical instrument.

This backyard activity wall is perfect for my busy, noisy boys. They love the band set and banging on the old Texas-shaped dinner bell. I also added a removable wood car that I cut and attached with velcro, a ball chute made from drain pipes, and another ball chute made from wood.

Build this fun and easy pea gravel play area, backyard activity wall, and DIY Rustic Bench. All the fun of a sand box, without the mess.
Cutting a little car to attach to the activity wall with velcro. Custom yellow paint job from my 4-year old.
Build this fun and easy pea gravel play area, backyard activity wall, and DIY Rustic Bench. All the fun of a sand box, without the mess.
A little drainage pipe makes a nice ball chute.
Cost to Build a DIY Rustic Bench

You can get the lumber you’ll need for this bench for less than $50. Nice!

Build a DIY Rustic Bench

This is a simple, rustic bench design that can be easily made with a just a miter saw (or circular saw) and a trusty Drill, like mine. I went for a rustic design 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.

Build this fun and easy pea gravel play area, backyard activity wall, and DIY Rustic Bench. All the fun of a sand box, without the mess.
Attaching the frame to the legs.

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 want 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.

Build this fun and easy pea gravel play area, backyard activity wall, and DIY Rustic Bench. All the fun of a sand box, without the mess.
Bench frame in place and ready to finish.

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. But you can easily extend the back 4×4 posts to a comfortable height for a bench back. Then attach the back to those posts.

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.

Build this fun and easy pea gravel play area, backyard activity wall, and DIY Rustic Bench. All the fun of a sand box, without the mess.
Transferring the image to the bench with a bit of chalk.

I found this great printable on the Nina Hendrick Blog  and used my DIY to resize and edit images to add 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. My favorite Paint Markers made quick work of adding a bit of vintage color. Cute, right?

Build this fun and easy pea gravel play area, backyard activity wall, and DIY Rustic Bench. All the fun of a sand box, without the mess.
Farmers Market & Vintage Goods – I love the charm this truck adds to the new play area.
Build this fun and easy pea gravel play area, backyard activity wall, and DIY Rustic Bench. All the fun of a sand box, without the mess.
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Need more DIY Ideas for Parents? Check out my post full of my Top DIY Products for homes with babies or toddlers. I really can’t give up most of these products, they make my life so much easier.

My Top DIY Products for new parents and parents of toddlers. They make life easier, cleaner, happier, and safer.


Feeling inspired? Get to work and let me know if you have questions. Post pictures of your work and tag Abbotts At Home on FB, I’d love to see it!

19 thoughts on “A Fun Pea Gravel Play Area & Backyard Activity Wall

  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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