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Not ready for a swimming pool area in your yard? Here are ways to make a DIY backyard splash pad for the whole family.
Nothing beats the summertime heat like splashing around in some nice, cool water. But, don’t worry, you don’t need a massive inground pool to enjoy some backyard water fun on hot days. Creating your own splash pad can give you your very own backyard water park.
You can use a water pump, inflatable pool, sprinklers, water sprayers, or water balloons to start having some splashing fun.
It’s all about putting things together in a way that makes the perfect water play area.
Whether you decide to build a permanent splash pad area or a temporary DIY splash zone, either way will keep you cool.
Take some time to decide where you want your splash pad to be and how you want it to work. Since there are so many options and ideas, it will help if you know some specifics first. For example, how much available space you have, your budget, and who will use the splash pad.
Then, you can keep scrolling for some backyard splash pad inspiration that is sure to make your yard a cool place to be. (Pun intended.)
Ideas for a Temporary DIY Backyard Splash Pad
If you prefer a less time and labor-intensive splash pad, a temporary area works well. You can always buy a ready-made splash pad; but, what if you want something more unique?
Here are three quick ideas for temporary DIY water play areas that make a real splash.
1. Pool Noodles and a Tarp
How about a homemade splash pad in about 30 minutes? Taming Little Monsters shows you how you can create a quick and easy splash zone three different ways with some minor sewing skills.
Basically, you sew a pocket around the tarp for the pool noodles to slide into, creating a water buffer while keeping edges soft and safe.
Don’t have a sewing machine? No problem; there’s a no-sew option as well.
The purpose of the pool noodles is to create an edging on the tarp. It’s a smart move to keep the water from running off.
After you create your splash area, add a regular sprinkler, kiddie slide, water guns, water balloons, and other fun things to ramp up the experience.
2. Kiddie Car Wash
Check out this too-cute idea from HGTV for a kid-sized car wash. Your kids will love to roll through with their favorite push cars or bikes or just run through the wash themselves.
You’ll need 22 pieces of 30″ PVC pipes, plus appropriate fittings, pool noodles, sponges, and a plastic drop cloth.
A PVC pipe cutter makes getting pipes the right size a breeze. It’s a fun project for the kids to have a whole lot of fun with.
3. PVC Splash Pad Frame
Run Like Kale uses PVC pipe from the local hardware store to create a simple frame. Then, using valves, turns it into an easy-peasy water play zone for hot summer days.
Consider how many places you want the water to spray. You can configure the pipes to fit your own design preference.
Also, if you use more connections, you’ll have shorter pipe pieces, making it easier to store when not in use.
4. Slip N Slide Splash Pad
This idea, from The Joys of Boys, will keep younger and older children entertained all afternoon.
Get a Slip N Slide, pool noodles, dowel rods, and a water sprinkler to get this fun DIY backyard splash pad set up in no time.
How to Build Your Own DIY Backyard Splash Pad Area
Before you go purchase some elaborate (and expensive) setup, consider building your own DIY backyard splash pad. If you have the space for it, a permanent splash zone can be just the ticket for endless fun.
Maintaining a more involved splash pad is ideal if you live somewhere where the seasons are warm most of the year.
If you don’t have a lot of space, or will only use your splash pad a few months of the year, check out our temporary DIY splash pad ideas above.
However, if you’re ready to commit to a larger project, check out step by step guide below for building a splash pad area in your backyard.
1. Choose Your Splash Pad Design
You can purchase DIY splash pad kits that make turning your backyard into a water park much easier than starting from scratch.
Check out different available kits to get an idea of the various styles, shapes, and sizes. You’ll also need to consider how many sprayers you want and what material you want to use for your deck or splash surface.
Decide where you want your splash pad to go and map out the area. It’s vital to know how much space you have before you start doing anything else.
Choose a kit that works with your available space, style preferences, and budget.
2. Get the Proper Permits and Make a Plan
You might need a permit for your splash pad; it’s pretty likely. The next step is to contact your local building department to find out everything you need to build residential splash pads.
It’s also wise for a professional electrician to handle all electrical work. The permit will most likely require you to use a licensed electrician anyway.
If you’re not using a kit, thorough sketching of your overall placement of all piping and wires is essential. Make sure all your fittings are the same and take careful measurements.
Allow enough space around the filter system, pump, and tank to perform routine and necessary maintenance. You’ll need to make sure your spacing around these areas and between your valves, etc., follows your local code requirements.
3. Prep the Area for Your Splash Pad
Once your local code office greenlights your splash pad project, you can get to work.
Get a tape measure and spray paint and mark out your splash pad. Also, mark where your pump, tank, and filter will go, ensuring they’re all outside of the splash play area.
Next, start digging about 18 inches deep for your entire splash area. In any place pipes will go, dig slightly deeper to accommodate them.
Also, dig out the space your water holding tank will go. The drain should be at the lowest point of your splash area. For proper drainage, the slope should be roughly 2 inches for every 9 feet.
4. Assemble the Pieces of the Splash Pad
Read the instructions with your splash pad kit carefully. All kits are different, so yours might require some additional prep steps.
It’s time to assemble all of your pieces and parts according to your well-thought-out plans or kit instructions. This is also when you’ll put the holding tank into the special hole you dug for it.
Install the pump and filter system according to their instructions. Lay out the electrical wire, but don’t connect anything to a power source.
Consult with an electrician at this point if you’re at all unsure about the placement.
When placing the pipes for the spray heads, remember you will eventually be filling in the splash area. Therefore, ensure you place them at an adequate height so they will be above ground level after adding fill.
5. Fill in the Splash Pad Area
Before you start to fill in the area, check your work.
Compare your assembly to your plans to ensure everything is in its proper place. Also, make sure all of your connections are secure. Taking extra time now to double check yourself can save you a lot of headaches later.
Can you imagine having to dig everything up because you put a pipe in the wrong spot?
After you’ve confirmed everything’s as it should be, cover the pipe openings where the sprayer heads will go, the valves, drain, etc. This precaution is to ensure dirt and debris don’t clog up the works when you start to fill in the water play zone.
You can use painter’s tape to cover these pieces. Remember, these parts need to extend up past the fill, so you’ll be able to remove the tape later.
If you’ll be pouring concrete as your splash pad surface, fill till you’re roughly 10 inches from the surface. If you plan to use pavers, fill to approximately 8 inches from ground level.
Over the fill dirt, layer about 6 inches of clear aggregate.
Next, pour four inches of concrete if creating a concrete pad. However, if using pavers, pour about a half of an inch of sand, then lay the pavers.
Remember to work in a slope toward your drain for proper drainage.
6. Time for the Finishing Touches
Once your concrete has set, it’s time to finish up the little things.
Remove the tape you used to cover the openings. Trim the pipes for sprayers if they stick up too far, and install your hardware, like sprayers and the drain cover.
Call your electrician to hook up everything as needed to your power source.
7. Test the Splash Pad
You’re almost done with your beautiful splash pad!
It’s time to turn on the water and see how things flow. Check for leaks, potential clogs, etc. Make sure everything works properly and is safe to use.
This can undoubtedly be a big project, so think it through before jumping into it.
Although not as difficult as it might seem, it takes a bit of time and effort. Enlist the help of some friends and carefully think through each step so you don’t have to back track.
And if you’re using a kit, don’t ignore the instructions. When you avoid rushing through the steps, you’ll ultimately save yourself a lot of time and stress.
Wrapping Up Your DIY Backyard Splash Pad
Are you ready to build a mega splash zone or create a temporary water park in your backyard? These ideas are sure to get the inspiration flowing!
You could add a climbing wall or water slide to your own DIY splash pad for more summer fun!
If you chose a new splash pad, which one did you think was a great idea? Share in the comments!
Before you go, here are a few posts you’ll enjoy: