This post contains affiliate links. Read the full disclosure here.
I finished making this play area for the boys this weekend. There are a lot of reasons I went with gravel as opposed to sand but if I’m being brutally honest the biggest is that I HATE the mess sand makes. It gets everywhere, my kids track it all through the house, cats poop in it etc.
There are a few other reasons I avoided sand including reports that play sand could potentially be a carcinogen and the fact that we are renting and I needed to make something that I could easily return to its previous state. After doing some research I decided to go with pea gravel.
Space concerns also ruled out building a large wooden sandbox. I finally had an idea after browsing Pinterest when I came upon this pin: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/54958057938327055/
It gave me the idea to carve out a play area out of one of our existing
This corner bed already had plastic landscaping tarp under it and I thought it would be easy to make the raised bed effect I was going for so I settled on that.
I purchased the following items for the project:
- 7 scalloped stone borders (I only needed 6)
- 3 bags of pea gravel (I wish I had bought 1 more and will probably add it soon)
The grand total for the project worked out to around $26.
How to Build It
The next step was to dig out an area for the rocks to go and to move the mulch to the center “raised” area. This took a lot of work. After I had the area dug out I added the border stones.
At this point I was ready to add the pea gravel but I already knew from researching there would be an issue. Pea gravel is FILTHY. It’s basically coated in orange dirt. Since I wanted this to be cleaner than a sand box I had to wash the gravel. I used an old plastic planting pot with holes in the bottom.
***You could skip this step by using aquarium gravel but when I priced it out pea gravel was $3.88 a bag and aquarium gravel $20+ a bag. So I washed it lol. Update: I did find pea gravel on amazon!
Once I had the gravel nice and clean I added it to the garden and spread it out. Then I added the boys’ trucks. We were gifted this CAT set. It’s very nice but when they eventually break I will replace them with ones by Green Toys since they are more durable and made from recycled milk jugs.
I love how it turned out! The long length is perfect for driving the trucks (and apparently toy boats lol) and the pavers on the outside make nice little seats.
I know the boys will get HOURS of play time out of this area and it makes a nice sensory experience. When we eventually move, if our landlord doesn’t want to keep it I can easily remove the border stones and spread the mulch back over the rocks. Easy peasy.
Toy Truck Recommendations
If you need toy truck recommendations this is the set pictured: https://amzn.to/3iBdyBV
I actually prefer our Green Toys set though! These are super durable and made in the USA of Recycled Milk Jugs. You can see them pictured below. Seriously one of my favorite toy brands!
Let me know what you think in the comments! If you like it, please share the post on Pinterest!
Want to find deals on kids toys and more? Join my Facebook Deals Group!