7 Awesome Backyard Builds

Fun & Games

madcat1If you’re privileged enough to have a backyard, especially one without excessive deed restrictions, there’s a good chance you’ve thought about building something there. After all, you are reading Make’s website! You could buy a playset kit from your local hardware or toy store, but what’s the fun in that? Why not build something truly unique to show off to the world, or at least your immediate neighbors.

Read on, and hopefully these awesome backyard builds, from a roller coaster to a Battle Mech tree house, can give you inspiration for your next project!

Pirate Ship

Besides 17th century merchants, who doesn’t love a good pirate-themed party? They’re great for toddlers, and even college students have been known to construct their own vessels for revelry.  In this case, the land-boat was constructed for a 5 year old birthday party by a father and his 15 year old son.  The build quality is excellent and shows the meticulous planning and work that went into it.

Laser Cut Gymnastics Rings

gymnastics-ringsSure, you could just buy a pair of gymnastics rings, but why not build a set yourself? Builder John Edgar park made his set using a laser cutter. Several plywood layers of varying sizes were cut and then glued together to form the torus shape needed to get a good grip on the rings. I could also see these being made with a CNC router, or even a bandsaw if you have those available. John is seen here exercising with his rings, but they are also great for keeping kids active and entertained!

ATST Cat Play house


What can I say about this video? People really love their cats, and apparently some love both their cats and Star Wars. Although I’d always thought of Chewbacca more of dog-creature, seeing this immediately reminds me of Chewie throwing the Imperial troopers out of their ATST in The Return of the Jedi. The cat-perch is well constructed, and I’m especially impressed with the  authentic-looking worn paint job.

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Madcat Tree House

In the unlikely event that you’re a fan of Mech Warrior without enjoying Star Wars, you could always build your own Madcat mech treehouse (I ignorantly thought it was a catapult. It’s been a while!). As with the ATST above, the paint job is great, but the scale is much bigger, allowing actual children to play inside of it. As noted in the article, adults could also use this to play Mech Warrior in, although there is no mention of how waterproof it is inside! Unfortunately, the link given for this project’s build log isn’t active, but I imagine it was quite epic.

Minotaur Coaster


If you like roller coasters, than you would probably love to have one in your backyard. David Chesney did just that, building one out of wood, with a thin steel rail on the top to reduce friction, in his backyard. Like many ambitious DIY projects, it stretched out several years, but it’s really nice to see something like this finished. Not that this type of project is really ever finished, most of the time it’s just waiting for the next idea. Check out the video below to see it in action, careening over its two treacherous humps!

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Extreme Backyard Water Slide

DIY water slide

According tho the video, this slide was made “for the kids.” Whether you believe this statement or not, it’s quite an impressive use of culverts cut in half, forming 55 feet of personal water slide. The water is recirculated to the top by two pumps through a couple PVC pipes under the slide. It seems the kids do enjoy the slide, although I imagine dad enjoyed building it just as much.

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Backyard Climbing Wall

wallMainDon’t have time to go to the climbing gym? Why not make your own rock wall? Benton was frustrated that, after being a decently-active climber in high school and college, he wasn’t able to pursue this sport as much after getting married and having kids. If you happen to have a rock wall in your backyard, it should be much easier to get a short training session in.

Having a kid myself, I can certainly relate. Going to the gym regularly would be very difficult at this point, but having a hangboard and some other equipment in our house allows myself to not feel quite so out of shape on the rare occasion that I’m able to go to a larger wall. On the other hand, with this project, and most of the others here, having kids allows you a great excuse to build something awesome. You know, “for the kids!”

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Jeremy is an engineer with 10 years experience at his full-time profession, and has a BSME from Clemson University. Outside of work he’s an avid maker and experimenter, building anything that comes into his mind!

View more articles by Jeremy S Cook
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