Slide (and slide) on a water toy in your garden
Last summer, you could easily call the Year of the Backyard Pool, as the pandemic forced families to move away from crowded lakes, beaches and community centers. According to the Pool & Hot Tub Alliance, pool sales increased by more than 20% in 2020, although many families have alternately turned to water bounce houses, backyard splash pads. , Slip ‘N Slides and other items filled with water to keep you cool at home. If you’re similarly looking to transform your backyard into a water park without the long-term commitment of an actual pool, here’s how to get started.
Know your options.
The world of water fun in gardens has come a long way since the sprinklers of four decades ago. Water enthusiasts can now choose from bouncy houses, water tables, elaborate sprinklers, inflatables of all shapes and sizes, water skates and more.
For Jaime Maser Berman, 43, a beauty publicist in Westfield, NJ, the pandemic has resulted in a move to the suburbs, along with a host of water-related toys. Mrs. Maser Berman and her family invested in a Slip ‘N Slide and an inflatable baby pool, and accepted a water table from one of her sisters. His backyard water park project was a success. âIf our backyard was bigger, I would probably try to convince my husband that we should have a water drain house,â she says. (Bouncy houses take up a considerable amount of flat garden space.)
Thomas Jepsen, 30, of Raleigh, North Carolina, bought a bounce house for his children amid the pandemic. Mr Jepsen, managing director of a company called Passion Plans, which connects homebuyers with architects and designers, said his children needed entertainment. Fortunately, Mr Jepsen said, he had “a pretty big yard”, and after his kids visited a friend with a water bounce house, the family fell in love with it and decided to buy one. a.
Major retailers, like Target, Amazon, and Wayfair, have inflatable water bounce houses in stock. They range between $ 300 and $ 500 and are suitable for children ages 5 and up. They can also take up around 150 square feet of space and weigh up to 600 pounds when inflated. Slip ‘N Slides, and their off-brand cousins, can be used on ground that isn’t level, but they still require a lot of garden space; they run about 12 to 60 feet in length.
If bounce houses and slides are too big for your yard, H20GO! manufactures other outdoor water toys like the 6ft tall, approx 4ft long caterpillar, inflatable sprinkler system suitable for ages 2 and up. The Fat Brain Toys company also offers an outdoor water series, with items like a six foot tall inflatable unicorn sprinkler and a compact light show sprinkler that can be attached to any standard hose.
Water tables, which range in price from around $ 50 to well over $ 100, offer young children the opportunity to play in the water without the hassle of a swimming pool. They can be placed either on the grass or on a patio or deck, and when filled, do not need to be restocked for a few days. The Little Tikes company makes sturdy groundwater (as well as a new product on the market called FOAMO Foam Machine, which produces a small mountain of non-toxic foam that can be used outdoors).
The flat pads sit on the ground and allow young children to play in a shallow water disc. Lindsay Fargo, 42, of Santa Cruz, Calif., Bought a pillow for her 2-year-old daughter last year. Ms Fargo, senior consultant, product growth for Little Bridges, which sells multigenerational activity kits, found that the screening area left “room in the backyard for more fun” but was “quite large so that a few family members can enjoy it together. She also liked how easy it was to store it in the garage or garden shed. The splash guard, she said, was easy to use: connect a garden hose and let it go. “No parents’ lungs or trips to the hardware store for the air pumps needed here,” she said.
Relatively light and compact and weighing between two and three pounds, the splash pads can be used safely by children as young as 2 years old. They’re also a good choice for people who want to spend a little less (they’re available for $ 50 and up), or who have smaller outdoor spaces.
Know your needs.
When shopping for outdoor water toys, consider your budget, space limitations, and whether you have a flat floor, which is necessary for pads and inflatables. (And make sure you have a hose long enough to reach them.)
You will also want to take into account the possible drawbacks. The splash pads, Ms. Fargo said, can accumulate particularly cold water, as water continuously flows from the hose and does not have the ability to warm up in the sun. But that doesn’t necessarily have to be a deciding factor. The temperature, Ms. Fargo said, âmay have shortened our playing time a bit, but it made us feel like we were wasting less water.
Water use, as a whole, is a valid consideration, especially when considering the environmental impact. Since water cannot be recycled in many active water toys, the most environmentally friendly option is a water table, which only requires one filling and not the constant running of the hose. Water tables need to be replenished every few days, but they always consume less than sprinklers, bounce houses, and baseboards. And, since they can be used on hard surfaces, they won’t damage your lawn.
Inflatables, in particular, can kill grass, said Caitlin Manner, 37, a writer from Panama City, Fla. Last summer, when her sons were 2, 5 and 8, Ms. Manner bought a bounce house with a pool and slide. âIt definitely killed a patch of grass,â Ms. Manner said. “If you leave it for more than two days, this herb is toast.”
Ms Maser Berman also noted that availability can be a significant drawback and parents of young children should purchase emergency toys this season, before items run out. âMy biggest tip is to buy early in the season,â she says. “Your kids are sort of going to break something.”
Keep them clean.
Outdoor water toys are prone to mold, mildew, pollen, and animal damage. To keep them looking their best, spray them regularly with water and wash them thoroughly if necessary.
Mr. Jepsen recommends cleaning bounce houses and other outdoor water toys with a solution of vinegar and dish soap. Prepare your own solution by combining, in a spray bottle, Â¼ cup of white vinegar, Â½ teaspoon of dish soap and 2Â½ cups of water. Spray the cleaner all over the inflatable, wash with clean water and allow it to dry.
He also suggests deflating and drying bounce houses regularly, tips that can result in any inflatable water toy. At least once a month – and always before putting them away – deflate air-filled water toys and let them sit in the sun on a dry surface until the outside water has evaporated. They should then be neatly folded and stored either in the bag they arrived in or in a sealed industrial grade garbage bag in a dry place.
Since she doesn’t have a basement, Ms. Manner stores her clean, dried, and folded inflatable in a Tupperware container on her porch. Some water toy users, like Ms. Maser Berman, put their items away after each use. âYes, it’s painful to come in and out, every day,â she said. “But you won’t risk anything being ruined by the weather or the animals.”