If you’ve seen the viral video of little 5-year-old Lylah enthusiastically powering her way through a homemade obstacle course, her dad and stuffies cheering her on, you’ve likely thought, “I can do that!”
You’re right! You can! And we’re here to help you turn your backyard into an athletically challenging (and safe!) place your kids will LOVE to hang out in. Before getting started, there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind before mapping out your obstacle course game plan.
Like any project, think about its purpose: what are the ages and skill levels of the users? You’ll want to make sure the size and obstacles of the course will be challenging enough within their limits.
Next, grab your tape measure, go outside, and actually take a look at the area you plan to build. Are there any obstructions you’ll have to work around? For example, you don’t want to encourage your little monkeys to travel from the structure to a nearby outbuilding rooftop. Check the slope of the ground where you plan to build. Is it even? Can you build in the shade to offer protection from the sun? Is it visible from the roadside (you might not want to attract unwanted attention of young adventurers)?
Safety should always be at the top of your mind when determining the size and location of your obstacle course features. You might also want to check if a building permit, zoning laws, or insurance considerations need to be met. You’ll also need to consider your budget. Naturally, the size of yourcourse will be dependent on what you can invest into it without risking the safety of its users.
After creating a rough plan, list the materials you’ll need and talk to a Project Expert about the value of going with items such as pressure-treated lumber and coated screws. You might want to order 10-20% extra lumber… even if you measure twice, cut once… it’s better to have more than enough than to have to run out for a few pieces of lumber. Also, pick up more screws than you think you’ll need. You’re going to need a LOT of them.
We sat down with Corey Rainone (Project/Contractor Sales Expert at Lyons Timber Mart in Sault Ste. Marie, ON) to create a design plan and a materials list for a DIY backyard obstacle course. Check out some of the obstacles he suggested that would be manageable for even the amateur DIYer.
A climbing wall is a great addition to the side of a structure, or as a standalone obstacle, depending on the age and skill level of the users. Using a knotted rope and footholds can help younger climbers scale the wall more easily. Opting for custom wooden foot/handholds can help cut down on costs.
There are tons of great ideas out there to get your little monkey swinging… whether you use bars, rings, or knotted rope, adding a horizontal swinging obstacle is sure to challenge all age and skill levels.
Adding a vertical rope climb is a great use of space for an end section of your structure. We like how this build, shown on Instructables.com, incorporated both a rope climb and a rope spider wall… perfect for incorporating obstacles for a variety of climbers skill levels.
Simulating the act of swimming upstream, a salmon ladder is a popular Ninja Warrior course obstacle because contestants hold the bar and use their core strength to progress to the next level. When designing this obstacle, go with 1’ intervals between the rungs, and be sure to secure them at about a 35 degree angle to avoid the bar slipping back (the rungs should stick out about 4”).
This challenging obstacle course from NinjaWarriorBlueprints.com incorporated the salmon ladder at the end of the structure.
On the other hand, this unique ninja warrior style obstacle course made use of the structure’s interior posts and had the salmon ladder lead up to the monkey bars! Very creative use of space!
Not all obstacles need to be attached to the main structure. An easier build is the quad step challenge. This obstacle tests balance and coordination, jumping in a zig-zag pattern from one platform to the next.
Design & Build Advice
The design options for your outdoor obstacle course are endless! If you’re ready to create a Ninja Warrior style outdoor play structure for your family, stop by your nearest Timber Mart to talk to a Project Expert for advice on materials, design, and pricing.
Interested in building your own outdoor obstacle course? There are great ideas out there on the world wide web; however, if you want professional advice on designing and building an outdoor structure, visit one of our Project Experts, like Corey (you can reach him by email at CoreyR@lyonsltd.ca).
After building your outdoor obstacle course, be sure to share your success with us! We’d love to see what you’ve done. Post your picture on Instagram and tag us @lyons_timbermart or on Facebook @SSMLyons!